Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Story of Bhenji Rajbinder Kaur...


Vaheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Vaheguru Ji Ki Fateh

The journey that Guru Sahib placed me on was a long treacherous one; treacherous because of my own faults and wrong doings, making the wrong decisions in life and pushing Sikhi principles away as far as I could in pursuit of worldly happiness.

Thinking back now, the main memories of 'Sikhi' I have as a child was going to the Gurdwara on a regular basis with my mother. I remember an elder Gursikh, who used to come to the Gurdwara, and all the kids knew him as the baba who gave all the children a pencil and paper to take and doodle on. We didn't used to have iPhones or any kind of gadgets in those days, so pencils and paper were a luxury. All the kids used to flock to him and it's funny how that's now one of the few childhood memories I have. As I grew older, my Gurdwara visits became few and far between. I only used to go for weddings etc and only if I was forced. I remember skipping Anand Karaj's (weddings), as I felt they were 'boring' and I used to only go to the reception after, as I felt this was the main part of the wedding!

I started removing my hair as early as I could. I remember feeling a lot of pressure from my school friends to fit in, in this way. I first removed leg hair, arm hair, and then started removing facial hair and started to regularly visit the hair dresser, because I wanted to feel beautiful and wanted to fit in with the crowd. I wanted to become more attractive to others. I won't go in to details, but I rebelled against my parents wishes as much as I possibly could. I would lie to them, sneak out and got in to bad company and didn't care who I was hurting along the way. I used to drink alcohol and stayed out late at night, and just wanted to be a free spirit, I wanted to do what I wanted to do and that was it. I didn't care about my parents worrying at home, or the consequences of someone seeing me while out "doing my thing" and the word getting back to my parents.

When I reached my mid 20s I met my now husband. We were monay (had shorn hair) and based our relationship on mutual attraction. Funnily enough, we first spoke about Sikhi, even though I knew absolutely nothing, and still don't. Within two weeks of meeting, I knew I was going to marry him. I'm not sure how, but call it woman's intuition. There was a long battle between my parents and I about caste as my parents were typically culturally inclined. However my father was first to come round, as I was always a daddy's girl and something pulled at his heart strings and he agreed to the marriage. Mum was a bit harder to convince. During our engagement period, my fiancé was coming more and more in to Sikhi. He started doing sangat with Gursikhs and I remember one time, we met, and he said "I want to take Amrit". I didn't have a clue what Amrit was or what living as a Gursikh involved. I was shocked and emotional and said to him please don't change yet. We were weeks away from our marriage and I wanted all my family to see my husband in the image that I had met him in. We agreed to compromise. The compromise was that he would wait for me and that I would look in to becoming Amritdhari after marriage.

We got married and my husband kept wanting to keep his kesh, but I stubbornly didn't want him to. His love for Sikhi kept growing and growing, and I honestly resented it. I didn't want him to change the way he looked. I loved the way he looked when we first met, and felt so attached to that image. I used to force him to go to the hairdressers. I wouldn't talk to him until he had tidied himself up, as he looked messy with a beard and unshorn hair. I fought his want to change to the point that I would cut his hair for him, as he started to refuse going to the hairdressers. I used to turn off paath or Kirtan he used to play in the car as I wanted his attention.

During the first couple of years of marriage a few elders in the family passed away. This hit me hard and I started to question what happens when we die. At my grandmothers funeral, when everyone recited Sohila Sahib, I couldn't do it as I didn't know it. So I promised myself I would learn this paath. This was the first I had learnt in my then 28 years of life. 28 years.

My sadness about death didn't change the fact that I didn't want my husband to change his appearance. He would go to programs alone and, even though he still cut his hair he used to tie a Dastar. He felt he couldn't go in to sangat without a dastaar on. When he came home from programs I would resent his change and tell him to take his dastaar off. Such was my hate for his change. He used to invite Gursikh to our house to do veechaar with us. But I still didn't want to move towards Sikhi.

It was only until I fell pregnant in 2007, that I really started to change. We were told that I had a high risk pregnancy for Downs syndrome baby. My heart broke. As a mother, your instinct is to want your children to be healthy and happy. My husbands first reaction was to of course turn to Guru Sahib. We started to do Ardaas every day asking Guru Sahib to make sure the baby would be okay. I cried so many times during the Ardaas. I started to listen to JapJi Sahib every day, and would play it on my phone every morning and as my bump grew I would balance the phone on my belly so baby would hear too. I started to read Chaupai Sahib too in English first, as I wanted to understand it.

We attended Khalsa Camp for 2 days in 2007 when I was 4 months pregnant. It was mind blowing. Although we only stayed there a short while, we felt a pull from being in that sangat. We bought DVDs from previous Khalsa Camps and when we got home we watched them on repeat for months. We didn't watch anything else as we just wanted to be in that sangat again.

My husbands last hair cut was at his usual barbers. He had a deep conversation with the white hairdresser about Sikhi after she noticed his Kara. Ironically he spoke about kesh (hair) and its importance. At the end of the appointment, she said to him "I don't expect to see you here again". He came home and told me about his conversation and her last words and we felt that Guru Sahib had spoken and that was his command.

My husband was starting a new job and he wanted to go to his new work as a Singh. We agreed, knowing that this would be it, he would remain a Singh from now onwards.

It was only when our baby was finally born in January 2008 that we came to know that she was a normal healthy baby. We cannot put that down to anything but Kirpa from Guru Sahib.

In the first year after our baby was born I started to physically change. Two things really stick in my mind when it came to deciding to make the change in my appearance and follow Sikhi: It was through sangat of other bibian that I found the strength to keep Kesh. I felt if they can do it and look so beautiful then so can I. I started to keep my eyebrows, started to tie my hair back and stopped dying it. It wasn't easy to do this though. I fell a few times, but just kept trying. I think I felt that I owed Guru Sahib something in return for listening to our Ardaasa. Secondly, when our baby was born, when I saw just how perfect Guru Sahib had made her, I thought to myself, I would never want to change her from her perfect natural form, so I had to lead by example. I couldn't be a hypocrite.

My friends and family were very supportive of my change. I didn't get any negative comments from anyone. When my eyebrows were fully grown out and my facial hair had returned to its equilibrium I somehow still didn't feel complete. It was only when sangat came round or we went to Gursikhs houses and bibian showed me how to tie a dastaar, that I felt that I could look in the mirror and everything then seemed to fit in to place. That's what was missing.

Living away from family, and meeting them with my crown on and seeing their reaction was something that I struggled with and was the next hurdle I had to get over. Humans, especially women, especially in the western world, are sensitive beings. We take in too much of what society thinks and says and this is why I struggled. My husband would take pictures of me when I practised tying my dastaar at home and sent pictures to my sisters phones. Their reaction was very positive. So when they did actually see me with my dastaar on they were fine with it, as it was already familiar to them.

By this time, in 2009, my husband was so desperate to give his head to Guru Sahib. He had waited patiently for years now, and he so wanted to take Amrit. For the past year or so since I started to change I kept putting him off, saying I wasn't quite ready. He would get Gursikhs to do Ardaas (pray) for us, so that we could walk on the path together.

I remember after a Kirtan program, on the way home, a Gursikh had travelled with us. He did a little veechaar (Sikhi chat) with me in the car. He knew how desperately my husband wanted to take Amrit as a family, and how long he had waited. The Gursikh said something like "YOU hold the key". It was then that I thought I can’t hold my husband back any more.

Finally, in December 2009, we were blessed with Amrit. It was a wonderful experience. My only regret is that I didn't ask Guru Sahib for Amrit earlier, as this was only the beginning of our journey. I wasted so many years in pursuit of worldly happiness. What I thought was making me happy was the very thing that was pulling me away from Guru Sahib. Of the few things I've learned over the years, one of the key lessons is that as a Gursikh, even the smallest gestures can inspire Sikhi in the most unlikely characters.

Vaheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Vaheguru Ji Ki Fateh

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Note: Thank you to Bhenji Rajbinder Kaur for writing her personal story and sharing it with the Sangat.

Bhenji was inspired by Gursikh bibiaa, they guided her towards Sikhi. Bhenji has now been blessed with the Seva of guiding other females towards the blessed path of Sikhi. Guru Sahib ji has blessed bhenji to form and run the "Kaur's Corner" organisation alongside a team of sisters. The Seva they are doing is awesome and has transformed the life's of many!!  

Vaheguroo!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Story of Bhai Vijay Singh...


As a child I had no interest or concept of religion. My family would attend the gurdwara now and then and I actually had no idea which religion I belonged to. Life revolved around families, which on the surface seemed very close knit. However I have only recently become aware of the differences and disagreements which I was oblivious to 25 years ago. 

Growing up, again I had not interest in religion and would make fun of keshdhari (unshorn hair) children at school. I would make fun of the way they looked, make fun of their names and also make fun of their religion. Members of my close family would regularly get in trouble with the police and many spent time in prison. I still hung around with them and much of their characteristics and persona rubbed off on me. I began behaving, talking, walking like them but one thing I had, which they didn't was a mother who was devoted to Gurbani. She would listen to Kirtan and do paath everyday. I feel that this is one of the main reasons I didn't fall into such bad ways. I know now that she would do ardas for me, that I'm happy and live a successful life. 

I spent sometime studying in Germany and this was really an eye opening experience. As I left, my mum gave me a gutka and wrote a shabad on a piece of paper. She said, "Whenever you feel down read this." It was:
ਅਉਖੀ ਘੜੀ ਨ ਦੇਖਣ ਦੇਈ ਅਪਨਾ ਬਿਰਦੁ ਸਮਾਲੇ ||
"He does not let His devotees see the difficult times; this is His innate nature."
(Dhanaasree M:5, 682)
In Germany was where I began to start the Sikhi journey. Prior to this I had multiple relationships, engaged in smoking, drugs, excessive drinking etc. I also played dhol for a group, my brothers were DJs and we would regularly do gigs across the country. On returning to UK I began a relationship. We decided very early on, that we wanted to get married. As we were engaged, I kept feeling this pull towards Sikhi.

I remember my mum calling me to come upstairs, because there were some young people talking about Sikhi on Panjab radio. The show was 'Sweet Sikhi'. I called the show and said, I played tabla and asked whether they had any programmes coming up. They said, come to Park Avenue Gurdwara on the last Saturday of the month. I arrived there in jeans and a ramaal (head covering). I was given the opportunity to play tabla, which was a great honour. That day I met Bhai Manvir Singh, who became a lighthouse for my journey towards the Guru. A lighthouse directs those towards the safety of the shore and in the same way the Gursikhs direct people to the safety of the Gurus sharan (court).

From there I kept in touch with Bhai Sahib and was introduced to many other gursikhs. They became my role models. I wanted to become like them. I had so many questions and would wait anxiously to ask and give responses. At that time I also learned another valuable lesson. Just because someone dresses religiously or does Kirtan/tabla seva, that doesn't mean they are holy inside. I found some gursikhs (mainly youngsters) to be rude, unhelpful and very dismissive of a Mona (me) trying to come into Sikhi.

As I moved towards making physical changes I realised that I had a huge obstacle, I was engaged to be married. What shall I do? Break off the engagement? We had been dating for 2 years and our connection was very strong, so I made a decision to wait before I make the physical change. I felt that what greater service could it be, for someone to help them come into Sikhi. We got married in a typical panjabi way, although the gyanis who performed the wedding were slightly surprised to see a Mona groom singing the Laavaa as he goes around.

The hurdle now was to try to encourage my wife to build an interest in Sikhi. I would do ardas (pray) many times a day and consult with gursikhs about what to do. Many have differing opinions. I was quite determined for us to change, however recognized that taking Amrit should be a decision someone makes, because they want to, not because they have to, that way the individual is a lot likely to keep their Amrit.

I then tried a different approach by taking the wife to Kirtan programmes and camps so we could build our knowledge and pyaar (love). I could see, that she was moving slowly towards a gursikhi lifestyle. I would ask gursikh bibian to talk to her about Sikhi saroop (image), dastaar (turban) and Kes (hair), so she could feel support in this. I have lost touch with many of the people, who supported us on our journey but I am very grateful and indebted to them for the time and effort they put into us. I would hate the thought of cutting my hair and it became more and more of a struggle for my wife to get me to the barbers. I would put it off, she would eventually stop talking to me. These were very difficult times. I continued waking up at amritvela everyday and did simran (meditate) and Nitnem (daily prayers). I was basically living as an amritdhari (baptised Sikh) but without Kesh.

I recall the final time I went to the Barbers. A Muslim woman was cutting my hair and spotted my Kara. She said, "You're a Sikh!?" I said, "Yes." "Aren't Sikhs supposed to keep their hair?" I replied, "Yes" but felt very embarrassed. From here I began telling her about Sikhi. She was very impressed and she even started feeling guilty about her lack of devotion, for her own faith. By the end of the haircut, she said something which shocked me. She said, "After all you have told me about your religion you seem very much into it, I don't expect to see you here again." It was a WOW moment, where I felt this comment had a driving force behind it. I went home and told my wife what happened and from there she realised that this is a clear sign. From there I kept my Kes. Now the challenge was encouraging my wife to get into it. She had made some progress but was still having the same old demons inside.

The birth of our child Amrita Kaur led to a change in her. A jeevan-vala (highly spiritual) gursikh said to us recently, that you and your wife became gursikhs as a result of your daughter's kamaaee (accumulation of spiritual wealth) from her previous lives. Now our journey towards Amrit was to step up. With Guru's Apaar Kirpa, my wife started keeping her Kes and one thing she noticed was she felt incomplete without a dastaar. She slowly started doing her full Nitnem and in Dec 2009 we were blessed to become part of the Khalsa (pure) Family.

I have no regrets as every mistake, every good decision, all shape our current destiny. Although we still have a huge distance to travel, Guru Sahib, through the Sangat, has laid a clear path ahead. I am eternally thankful to Guru sahib and our Gursikh family for embracing this nobody and bringing him from the dying cold outside, to experience the warmth of the Gurus lap. May guru sahib bless us all with his love.

Guru Sahib Ji has now blessed veer ji, with the Seva (service) of touring the world to educate/inspire many others, on this extremely beautiful spiritual path of Sikhi. Veer ji does this whilst living in girhast (householders life), with a family and a full time job. Guru Ramdas Ji says,
ਹਮ ਰੁਲਤੇ ਫਿਰਤੇ ਕੋਈ ਬਾਤ ਨ ਪੂਛਤਾ ਗੁਰ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਸੰਗਿ ਕੀਰੇ ਹਮ ਥਾਪੇ ||
"I was rolling around in the dirt, and no one cared for me at all. In the Company of the Guru, the True Guru, I, the worm, have been raised up and exalted."
(Gauree M:4, 167)

Vaheguroo! 

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Note: Thank you to Bhai Vijay Singh jee for writing his personal story and sharing it with the Sangat.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Sinner...


"It is God alone who can judge who is really virtuous and who is really sinner. The greatest sinner can become the noblest saint. Our attitude towards evil-doers should be one of compassion and not of hatred. Only those who are willfully cruel should be severely dealt with or avoided"
- Bhai Sahib Bhai Randhir Singh Jee

Monday, March 16, 2015

#I support Bapu Surat Singh Khalsa...

Bapu Surat Singh Khalsa, a Sikh human rights activist from California, USA, is on hunger strike since 16th January for the permanent release of Sikh detainees who have already completed their life sentences but are still languishing in different jails of India.  Bapu Surat Singh Khalsa took this initiative in order to fulfil the earlier commitments and Ardaas that were made by Bhai Gurbakhsh Singh at Gurdwara Lakhnaur Sahib, Ambala. Sadly, after the dramatic collapse of Bhai Gurbakhsh Singh's agitation, the support and interest for these hunger strikes has declined in my opinion. People felt disheartened and questioned the motives and intentions of those starting these protest agitations.   
 
However, it is admirable that elderly Bapu Surat Singh Khalsa has stuck at the cause for permanent release of Sikh detainees and his wish to fulfil the unfulfilled Ardaas of Bhai Gurbakhsh Singh. In the beginning of this month, Bapu Surat Singh was illegally detained by the Punjab Police for peacefully protesting against the Punjab and India Government.  Bapu Surat Singh Khalsa was put on a virtual arrest at the Civil Hospital in Ludhiana by the police, where doctors tried to force feed him. 

The illegal activities and ill intentions of the Indian authorities did not stop there! Bapu Surat Singh's family have been harassed and threatened. On 26th February, his son Ravinder Pal Singh, who is a USA citizen, went to visit him in India and was arrested from the hospital and illegally detained by Punjab Police as a political prisoner. A journalist, Surinder Singh, and a Sikh activist, Damandeep Singh, were also arrested from the hospital. Although the Police released journalist Surinder Singh after a few hours, Damandeep Singh was kept detained for nearly two weeks. It is noteworthy that Ravinder Pal Singh and Damandeep Singh had no charges against them when they were arrested. After 24 hours of being detained, and continued pressure from the USA embassy, the Indian authorities finally filed the charges the next day. Ravinder Pal Singh is still being illegally held. With India's history of human rights abuses, making fabricated cases to imprison Sikhs and their record of torturing Sikhs in custody, it is very alarming.

Bapu Surat Singh's family are reporting that their father is being harassed and pressed to end his hunger strike.  When he was arrested, his dastaar was removed on the way to the hospital.  He also fell down and was not given any medical attention.  Police also confiscated his phones and other belongings forcibly. Doctors have forcefully stitched the food pipe on his forehead and nose. He is also being given glucose regularly against his will.  However, despite the administration’s alleged concerns regarding Bapu Ji’s well-being, his health has started declining dramatically after this.

May we all pray for those who have completed their sentences and are being illegally being held in India's prisons. May truth, justice, and humanity prevail. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

AKJ UK Vaisakhi International Smaagam coming up...

Community announcement:


Vaheguru Ji Ka Khalsa!! Vaheguru Ji Ki Fateh!!

Akhand Kirtani Jatha UK’s Annual INTERNATIONAL AKHAND KIRTAN SMAGAM 2015 will commemorate via the essence of Shabad Guru, Vaisakhi and 100th Anniversary of The Ghadar Movement (1915) & The Vaisakhi Massacre of 1978 in Amritsar from Monday 30th March - Sunday 5th April 2015

Akhand Kirtani Jatha  UK  invites you to join sangat from all over the world for the 20th Annual International Akhand Kirtan Event. Many kirtani jathas and sevadaars from around the world will be taking part in kirtan seva. Gursikh Kirtanis have been invited from  India,  France,  Australia,  USA,  Canada  and throughout the Guru Khalsa Panth

Smagam Breakdown
The programme details listed below will take place at Singh Sabha Gurdwara,  Derby : -

Monday 30th March - Wednesday 1st April April 2015Sri Akhand Patth Sahib: 10am Arambh - 5.30pm Bhog followed by Akhand Kirtan: 6-9pm

Thursday 2nd April 2015:Asa Di Var Kirtan: 6am-10am
Rehras Sahib 5.30pm
Akhand Kirtan: 6-9pm

Friday 3rd April 2015:Asa Di Var Kirtan: 6am-10am
Rehras Sahib 5.30pm
Akhand Kirtan: 6-10pm

Saturday 4th April 2015:Asa Di Var Kirtan: 6am-10am
Rehras Sahib 5.30pm
Akhand Kirtan: 6pm-12am

Sunday 5th April 2015:Panthic Seminar & Akhand Kirtan: 10.30am-1pm

Raensbhai KirtanMAIN INTERNATIONAL RAENSBHAI KIRTAN ON Sunday 5th April 2015 from 7pm-5am at Singh Sabha Gurdwara, Princes Street,  Derby,  DE23 8NT. Tel : 01332 773010
For further details contact:
Gen Sec Bhai Rajinder Singh (07966 974505), email – uk@akj.org
Gurdwara Sevadar Bhai Ajit Singh 07533 362911

Amrit SanchaarAMRIT SANCHAAR: Saturday 4th April at 5pm at Singh Sabha Gurdwara, Derby
Can all ablakhyees contact Bhai Hardeep Singh (07969 655015) to provide their names for the Amrit sanchaar. If you have questions, you can contact Jathedar Raghbir Singh on 01926 741 944. If any persons do not have full kakaars, then AKJ  UK  will provide them as part of the seva.

Live Broadcast The whole Smagam & Raensbhai will be broadcast live on www.akj.org, Sangat TV (SKY 836) and SikhNet Radio (Singh Sabha Derby Channel)

Additional Programmes· Special Q&A on Sunday 5th April 2015, 4 - 5.30pm by Sangat TV (Sky 836)
· Special exhibitions will be on display in National Sikh Museum covering history from the Guru Khalsa Panths, the 1978 Shaheedi Saka and Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh, and the ghadar movement.

AccommodationAccommodation has been arranged for the whole Smagam. Bibian accommodation has been specially arranged.  For further details, contact Bhai Baljit Singh On 07795 545475

Airport/Train PickupsTransport will be arranged for all Gursikhs arriving from abroad at Heathrow, Gatwick, Birmingham, and all other UK Airports.  Please contact Bhai Sarabjit Singh (07737 183324).

Coach TransportCoaches/Mini-buses will leave from the following towns for the Raensbhai Keertan in Derby on Sunday 5th April. Please reserve your seats with your town reps ASAP.

* Southall/Slough - Sevadaar Bhai Japsimran Singh 07400896809
* Ilford - Sevadaar Bhai Upkar Singh 07747 770156
* Coventry -  Sevadaar Bhai Kulwant Singh 07854136413
* Birmingham -  Sevadaar Bhai Bhupinder Singh 07725 973836
* Woolwich - Sevadaar Bibi Navrup Kaur 07747 534502
* Croydon/Tooting - Sevadaar Bhai Harvinder Singh 07501 131313
* Gravesend - Sevadaar Bhai Seva Singh 07831 712430
* Hitchin - Sevadaar Bhai Harkamal Singh 07816361811
* Leamington - Sevadaar Bhai Joginder Singh 07723 367871
* South Shields -  Sevadaar Bhai Karnail Singh 07801 431855
* Reading - Sevadaar Bhai Parminder Singh 07984451061
* Manchester / Bradford - Sevadaar Bhai Maadho Singh 07850 947723

All other UK gurdwara's are requested to provide transport for their local sangat.
Please ring the designated area sevadaar to book your places on the coaches in advance.

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Vaheguru Ji Ka Khalsa!! Vaheguru Ji Ki Fateh!!

Daasre Akhand Kirtani Jatha UK
www.akj.org
Uk@akj.org

Monday, March 09, 2015

Holland Sikhi Tour...

In the last week of February Sikh Family Camps were held across Holland. The first two days were held at Guru Nanak Gurdwara Amsterdam, then two days at Singh Sabha Gurdwara Denhaag, and then two days at Guru Nanak Gurdwara Rotterdam. The camp was organised by the young Gursikhs from Amsterdam, Bhai Jaskarn Singh and Bhai Jaswinder Singh. A group of sevadaars went from the UK to help with the camp which included Bhai Uttam Singh, Bibi Kamalpreet Kaur, Bibi Simrat Kaur and Uncle Bhupinder Singh.  


The camps were filled with fun, activities, keertan, Gurbani calligraphy, talks, Sikh history, dramas, laughs and of course langar! The local Sangats and Gursikhs showed so much pyaar. In particular, most of the children's parents showed great dedication in staying at the camp and attending the classes. The atmosphere of the camps was very Chardi Kalaa! This blog won't able to do justice of how amazing the camps were.
 

AMSTERDAM:


Morning assembly

Bibi Pati Kaur helping to teach the children Gurmukhi. Bhenji Pati Kaur is Spanish but lives in Holland. Bhenji recently took Amrit in November 2014 and is learning Gurmukhi and Panjabi. It is amazing how Guru Ji finds people and brings them into Sikhi. Bhenji's story of her journey to Sikhi is very inspiring.

 Bibi Pati Kaur with a baby that we ended up calling 'Bhagat Ji'. 'Bhagat Ji' was always smiling and loved to be picked up by Gursikhs. He would walk to a Gursikh and just sit in their lap and not cry or move. A very blessed child.

  Class on what Maya is, how it affects us and how Gurmat teaches that we can be saved from Maya.
 
 Group activities

 Elder group practising handwriting a Shabad of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji.

Fun time. Younger children doing a challenge course.

Rehraas Sahib keertan

It was amazing that at Sukhaasan time, all the children would eagerly come to the front and excitingly pick up instruments to play behind Guru Ji as they are moved to their room.


DENHAAG:

Adults group photo

Middle group photo

Youngest group photo

Vaisakhi cards designed by the youngest group

 Gurbani calligraphy class

 Gurbani calligraphy class


Class on basics of Sikhi

 Fun time. Target practice.

You may have heard of the egg and spoon race but this was the Gurmat version - grape and spoon race.

 Bibi Simrat Kaur helping the children to learn the Gurus names through a playful game.

 Group planning a short sketch on social evils that effect the Punjabi community

 Group planning a sketch on 'Proud to be a Sikh'.

 Group planning a sketch on respecting parents

 Drama by campers on the life and teachings of Bhagat Puran Singh Ji Pingalware.



ROTTERDAM:
The Gurdwara Sahib in Rotterdam is in beautiful location. It was originally a school building. The layout of the Gurdwara is great with a library, classrooms, spacious Darbaar Sahib and a lovely lake situated opposite.

 Morning keertan by children.

 Morning divaan Ardaas.

 Questions and answers session with the elder group

 Bhai Jaskarn Singh's workshop with the middle group on "Fear".

Group discussions.

Bibi Simrat Kaur and Bibi Pati Kaur doing the younger group's class.

This Dutch child attending the Gurdwara for the first time during the camp. She loved the experience and participated in the classes. At the end of the camp she came up and said "Thank you for the camp. I really enjoyed myself." It was amazing to see the amount of Kirpaa Guru Ji done at the camp.

Gurbani art class for youngsters. This young Bhenji cried so much at the end of the camp because she didn't want the camp to end. She is the sister of the baby that we ended up calling 'Bhagat Ji'. The family lives very far away in some part of Holland but drove 2 hours to Amsterdam to attend the camp and then drove 3 and an half hours to Rotterdam to attend the camp. Dedication!

 Fun time. Making a mummy competition. 

 Children presenting group work

 Bhenji showing her work that illustrates the three golden rules with examples.

Children showing off their posters that they made with Bibi Simrat Kaur. For the whole week Bhenji worked with the youngest age group. It is a tough job and requires lots of energy, patience and sanity! lol. Despite losing her voice, Bhenji carried on showing pyaar to the children and teaching them.

 Bhai Jaskarn Singh's class on "Nindya" (Slander). He shared tips on how best to do Nindya and how to do it without others finding out etc. (Joking!) Really - Gurmat perspective on Nindya by doing Gurbani Veechaar!

Group dramas. This group presented a short drama on the life and teachings of Bhagat Puran Singh Ji Pingalware.

 Prize medals given to the children on the last day.

 On the second day of the camp many Bhenjees were wearing Dastaars. The Bhenjee on the right (Javleen Kaur, 12 years old) came up to Bhai Jaskarn Singh and asked: "Bhaji do you have time right now? Can I please tell you something?" He replied, "Sure, go ahead." She tells him in a very sweet voice, "Bhaji you know I talk to my friend everyday." Bhaji looked a bit strange because he got the impression she was talking to some boy everyday and started wondering why she would come to him and tell him this.  Then she smiled and said: "My friend is Waheguru Ji and I talk to him everyday." Bhaji was really surprised and replied back: "Vaheguru! Well done Bhenji and always remember that Guru Saahib is not very far away, but in reality Guru Jee is very close with you at all times and places."  It was very inspiring to see the progress that children were making in building up their relationship with Guru Ji. We can all learn something from this young Bhenji. Do we see Vaheguru as our friend? ਭਾਈ ਰੇ ਮੀਤੁ ਕਰਹੁ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਸੋਇ || (O Siblings of Destiny, make God your Friend.)

 Bhai Baljinder Singh from Rotterdam has kept his Kesh since the last Sikhi Family Camp in October 2014 with Bhai Navreet Singh UK. Bhai Saahib is a photographer and also wear the dastaar to work now. With Guru Ji's kirpaa, he also started doing regular Amrit-vela and Nitnem and has a lot of interest in Gurbani and Sikh history.  Bhai Sahib told me that he now only listens to katha or keertan and nothing else. Vaheguru.


The Bhenji wearing the Dastaar is Rajdeep Kaur. At the end of the last camp that was held in October by Bhai Navreet Singh (UK), Rajdeep Kaur Bhenji gave up eating meat. She cried and said, "I find meat really tasty" but wanted to give it up for Guru Ji. At the end of this camp, Rajdeep Kaur Bhenji has decided to wear a Dastaar to school. On Sunday after langar Rajdeep Kaur Bhenji came up to Bhai Jaskarn Singh and wanted to say goodbye as the sevadaars were leaving. He noticed she was emotional and she even started crying. Bhai Jaskarn Singh asked her: "Why are you crying?" She replied: "You are leaving us again." She wanted camp to take place every week. Vaheguru. Many children enjoyed the Sikhi Family Camp so much that they didn't want it to end so soon. The sevadaars also got a lot of pyaar from the sangat.

Sunday divaan talk on the massacre of Sri Nankana Sahib.


I had the opportunity to meet some Dutch Sikhs. In the photo is Bhai Dharamjodh Singh and Bibi Sajjanbir Kaur. Bhenji Sajjanbir Kaur has not taken Amrit yet, but is planning to. She recently discovered Sikhi and now lives the Sikh way of life by waking up Amrit-vela and practising daily Nitnem. Vaheguru.



Dhan Hai Guru! Dhan Hai Teree Sikhee!