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Ishmeet is the Voice of India

Ludhiana boy Ishmeet Singh Voice of India was announced winner of Star TV's Voice of India contest at a glittering ceremony in Mumbai.

tv Updated: Nov 26, 2007 16:44 IST

In the end, nothing came in his way - not even his being a turbaned Sikh and still taking a shot at a national singing contest. Punjab's industrial city of Ludhiana broke into celebrations after local boy Ishmeet Singh was announced winner of Star TV's Voice of India contest at a glittering ceremony in Mumbai.

The 18-year-old has suddenly been catapulted into a 'Sikh idol' and Sikh religious leaders are already pointing out that one does not need a trendy hairstyle to succeed.

The announcement of Ishmeet's name as the winner of the singing contest could not have come on a better day - it was Gurpurab Saturday, the most auspicious day in the Sikh religious calendar, the birth anniversary of Sikhism's founder Guru Nanak Dev.

From Calgary in Canada to Christchurch in New Zealand, websites and blogs are flooded with congratulatory messages for the Punjab da puttar (son of Punjab).

However, there have been some nasty comments given the fact that Ishmeet pipped his competitor Harshit from Lucknow to the title due to millions of votes from Punjab after trailing in all other regions of the country - east, west and south - during voting for the contest.

"The phones at our residence have not stopped ringing. We are flooded with SMSes too," Ishmeet's uncle Charan Kamal Singh said.

Ishmeet's parents were in Mumbai at the event when he was declared winner by singing legend Lata Mangeshkar in the presence Madhuri Dixit and several other celebrities.

But it is not his singing alone that matters now. Sikh religious leaders are eager to cash in on his success and there is already talk that he will be honoured at the Akal Takht - the highest temporal seat of the Sikhs located inside the Golden Temple complex in the holy city of Amritsar on December 2.

Avtar Singh Makkar, president of the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee, who had only a fortnight ago asked Sikhs and Punjabis to vote for Ishmeet, has described him as "a Sikh role model".

Ishmeet's father Gurpinder Singh said: "He has become a star. He has done all Punjabis proud. They needed a role model in present times when young Sikh boys and girls think that getting their hair cut is their ticket to stardom. He has proved them wrong."

Sikh men, as per religious custom, have to sport a beard and long hair that is kept tied under a turban. Even Sikh women are not allowed to cut their hair. Some Sikh boys and girls, however, get their hair cut these days.

Ishmeet's family has been getting calls from people across India, the US, Britain and Canada, seeking to engage Ishmeet as brand ambassador for their ventures. Most of the callers are either NRI Sikhs or Punjabis.

Besides the goodies, including a Chevrolet car, Ishmeet has bagged a two-year singing contract with Big Music.

The Sikh community sees Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, whose family settled in Amritsar after India's partition in August 1947, as a role model too.