Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Find out why a child got scared at a Punjabi wedding party....

Mum! I am scared that....
A mother took her daughter to the marriage palace (hall) for a relatve's wedding party. But when the daughter saw prostitutes (women dancers) dancing and bearded Sardaars (men with turbans) throwing notes of money over them, the innocent daughter got scared and said to her mother, "Mum! I want to go home.... I want to go home." The mother asks the reason for her being scared. The innocent daughter said, "Mum! I am scared that Sukha Singh and Mehtab Singh are going to come somewhere here."
Bhai Mehtab Singh and Bhai Sukha Singh beheading Massa Ranghar
The mother had shared stories from Sikh history with her child as she was growing up. The daughter remembered that Massa Ranghar, a Mughal government official took control of Sri Amritsar in 1740, and not only desecrated the holy Sarovar (pool) but also sat himself on a seat in Sri Darbaar Sahib, where usually Guru Sahib Ji would be prakaash, and where people would come and listen to Keertan and Gurbani, Massa Ranghar had dancing girls dance to lustful songs that were being played whilst he watched drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco and eating meat.  When two Sikhs of the name- Bhai Mehtab  Singh and Bhai Sukha Singh, were informed of this grave insult and disrespect, they travelled to Sri Amritsar in the guise of tax collectors coming to give tax. When they entered Sri Darbaar Sahib, they found the drunk Massa Ranghar watching women dance, listening to music and smoking. Bhai Mehtab said to him, "I have a gift for you in this bag, look inside." When the drunken Massa leaned over to look in, Bhai Mehtab Singh roared, "O sinner! The Khalsa is here to deliver your death for your evil actions" and then cut off his head, which fell in the bag and later held on their spear. No one knew what to do as these two Singhs ran back to thier horses. They arrived back to where a group of Sikhs were living in Rajasthan and presented Massa's head to the the Sangat.
The mother said to the daughter, "Dear daughter! What can I say? When your father became a Shaheed (martyr), then the descendents (vaaris) of Sukha Singh and Mehtab Singh closed down the brothels. Those who had daughters were happy and people didn't even mention from the mouth words like folk-dancing or folk-singing. But daughter....!"  The innocent daughter replied, "Mother! But what?" The mother lovingly replied, "O child! Those were the good time when people had modesty and people lived in the loving-fear and respect of God. For this reason the BBC recognised Mata Bhaag Kaur as the most courages and fearless women in history. I gave you my word that from now on we will not go to house, marriage palace, hotel of someone getting married where you will get scared."

Note: Massa Ranghar made girls dance who were not his daughters, sisters, mother or relatives. Today Punjabi weddings have become a place where drunk men watch their sisters, mothers, and daughters dance to music with lustful and sexualised lyrics. Even worse, drunk men dance with their mothers, daughters and elders to songs of lust and romance, and even let strangers dance with them on the dance floor. Guru Sahib said our body is "Harmandir" (the Temple of God), so who is worse - Massa Ranghar or modern Punjabis? The Sikhs of the Guru through history showed the world how to respect women, keep dignity and high moral character, but what reply will we give to our Guru?

The above article was based on the following photo found on the Internet:

Friday, August 12, 2016

Toronto Singhs Camp 2016...

With the blessings of Guru Sahib, Toronto Singhs Camp 2016 was held from Wednesday June 22nd to Sunday June 26th. This is the sixth year the camp has been running. Toronto Singhs Camp provides inspiration and motivation to young and old who want to discover the essence of Sikhi. The camp is aimed to reach out to people of different backgrounds and levels of understanding of Sikhi. Bhai Jaspual Singh and the organising team of sevadaars are doing a great job with Guru Ji's Kirpaa. The group continue with seva beyond the camp with regular Amrit-vela sessions, weekly Simran programme, community seva and fun activities.

During the Toronto trip I stayed with Bhai Jaswant Singh Ji, brother-in-law of Giani Kulwinder Singh who used to live in Derby (UK) but now in Surrey, Canada. Staying with Bhai Sahib and Bibi Ji was very inspirational. The amount of humility they have and dedication for Naam, Bani and Rehat is motivational. 

This year's Toronto Singhs Camp camp was attended by around 70 people. The camp is aimed at people aged 17 years and above, however had some younger teenagers who also benefited from the Sangat, Seva, and Simran. It is a great opportunity to experience Sikhi in a relaxed, friendly and spiritually charged environment. This year, Toronto Singhs Camp took place at Pearson Williams Christian Center in London, Ontorio. The beautiful natural surroundings helped to connect with and appreciate the Creator and creation.
This year's workshop facilitators included Bhai Amaninder Singh (Toronto), Bhai Sukhwinder Singh 'Sukhi Baba' (UK), Bhai Manmohan Singh (California), and Bhai Mani Singh (Toronto). The theme of the camp was "conquering the mind".  Each year the camp organisers pick thoughtful topics that are relevant to the daily lives of campers. 1430 angs (respected word for pages) of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji talk and instruct the mind. The mind is a very powerful thing that can either stoop low to lead to destruction of humanity and chaos, or be elevated beyond limits to beautify oneself and the world around them.

The first workshop was by Bhai Amaninder Singh on 'Simran and the Mind'. Veer Ji talked about how Simran helps the mind reach its potential, the benefits of Simran and how we can incorporate Simran and Naam in our daily lives.
The second workshop was by Bhai Sukhwinder Singh on 'Fear and the Mind'. Veer Ji talked about what is fear, why we fear things and how Guru Ji helps us to overcome fears and become fearless.
The third workshop was by Bhai Manmohan Singh on 'Prominent Gursikhs'. He shared his personal experience of meeting Gursikhs that had reached high limits with their mind that their lives were a personal inspiration for him and how they inspired him to take up singing Gurbani instead of worldly songs and later to take Amrit.
The fourth workshop seva was given to Daas. The topic was 'Rehat and the Mind'. Gurbani says that "Keeping the True way of life, the Mind will become True." Gurbani guides us that we can guide, strength and elevate our mind through disciplining ourselves from outside with the Guru-given code of conduct. Campers explored how wearing the Panj Kakkaar and refraining from Kurehats (prohibitions) instructed by the Guru help and guide the individual's mind.  

The fifth workshop was by Bhai Sukhwinder Singh on 'Depression, Anxiety and the Mind.' The topic was well chosen as it is very relevant topic that touches the lives of many individuals and families. Sadly, as a Punjabi community we don't talk about mental health openly. Veer Ji's wife works in the Mental Health sector, which helped Veer Ji to provide an insight on the effects and consequences of mental health, as well as how we can best support loved ones going through mental health issues. It was a very emotional workshop and well appreciated by the whole Sangat.
The sixth workshop seva was given to Daas. The topic was 'What is the Mind?' The workshop was based on Gurbani and what Gurbani says about the Mind. Gurbani mentions that the Mind is reborn again and again, and therefore does not die with the body. The Mind is powerful that it can create, destroy, elevate or sink. The Mind can look out, and look within. The Mind is influenced by sensory organs which pick up information from the world around. The corruption of the sensory organs leads to corruption and poison within, that leads to the birth of vices - lust, anger, greed, attachment and ego. The workshop ended with vichaar on the theme Shabad and how Gurbani tells us we can conquer the mind.
Some photos from the camp:

Camp started with a bonfire. Bhai Mani Singh made a fire without assistance of a flame!

First night - bonfire and ice-breaker with Bhai Sukhwinder Singh entertaining the Canadian Sangat with British humour :)

Satguru Ji's Saroop being taken with respect and grandeur to the Darbaar Sahib in the early hours of Amrit-Vela.

Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji in their fully glory in the Darbaar Sahib

Amrit-Vela Nitnem

 Morning Nitnem

Darbaar Sahib building

 Aasa Kee Vaar - Bhai Bir Singh Ji
If I could give someone the "Degh Sevadaar of the Year Award" it would by Bhai Bir Singh Ji of Toronto. Veer Ji did immense seva at the camp of single-handedly making Degh for the whole camp and carrying it across the Darbaar Sahib. Veer Ji has recently embraced Gursikhi, and shared lots of pyaar and devotion with the Sangat.
If I could give someone "Sevadaar of the Year Award" I would give to Bhai Jaspaul Singh who does so much behind the scenes of seva of setting up not only Singhs Camp but other camps for children, but remains humble and grounded. Veer Jee throughout the camp recorded the workshops and keertans, and has uploaded them on the Singhs Camp Toronto YouTube page.

There would be no Singhs Camp Toronto without full out Langar. As every year, this year the Langar Sevadaars did immense seva in providing Langar to the campers.
Pre-Breakfast langar (starter dish).

Singhs taken laahaa (benefit) of Seva and washing the dishes of the Sangat.

As always Singhs Camp has a wide range of physical activities that are very impressive. These are photos of Singhs doing archery. Some Singhs seem to be taking it quite seriously.

The highlight of the activities was paintballing. I personally didn't do it, but Singhs got covered with paint and had a mock battle. There was sounds of gun fire and smoke! It felt like being on a battlefield.
 In the evening Satguru Ji's seva is done again with great grandeur. It is always inpsiring to see the devotion and care given to the Seva of Maharaaj.

Langar Sevadaars always on the go for serving Langar to campers! Very dedicated team of Sevadaars who didn't even show they were tired!

Evening Langar (round 1).

This was the Sarbloh Langar breakfast, lunch and evening meal.... a generous helping of Degh! :)

Bhai Manmohan Singh Ji's Keertan workshop
  Early morning photo of beautiful scenary
 Early morning photo of beautiful scenary

Keertan during activities

Sangat following Guru Ji to Sukhaasan area

Service fit for a king!

Guru Ji's Sukhaasan

On the last night there was a Rainsbaaee Keertan

Sukhaasan Seva after Rainsbaaee 

Campers doing Keertan during last divaan on last day of camp

The camp ended with Bhai Manmohan Singh Ji singing the theme Shabad.

YouTube links to camp workshop videos:
Workshop 1 - Simran and the Mind
Workshop 2 - Fear and the Mind
Workshop 3 - Rehat and the Mind
Workshop 4 - Prominent Gursikhs
Workshop 5 - Anxiety, Depression and the Mind
Workshop 6 - What is the Mind

YouTube links to camp keertan videos:
Bhai Manmohan Singh - sukh prabh simran kaa ant na paar
Bhai Sukhwinder Singh - Aarti Aarta and Keertan
Bhai Gursev Singh (Waterloo) - Rehraas Sahib (Keertan)
Bhai Pritpal Singh (Regina) - Jaap Saahib (Keertan)

Sunday, August 07, 2016

It's not what you say sometimes, but how you say it...

I was forwarded a short Sikhi video, and I was so impressed by the concept, quality and script of the video that I checked YouTube to see if I could watch more of the same movie-maker. I discovered these videos are uploaded by 'Ek Onkar TV' and the videos are made by Bhaji Meet Singh (who actually stars in each of the video clips and is the main actor). The concept behind the videos is to highlight common things that people in the Sikh community may be ignorant of, lack of understanding of, or challenges they face, and then present practical solutions and ways of understanding in accordance to Gurmat. 

What I have learnt from these videos is that is even more important how you say something, then what you say. Sometimes we mean well and say something with absolutely good intentions and the information in accordance to Gurmat, but the message is not well received or understood by the person on the receiving end due to the way we either come across, the way things were explained or the simple fact that they have too much ego to accept any other way. Bhaji Meet Singh has showed innovative ways of explaining the most simplistic messages of Gurmat in the most awkward circumstances, and the most difficult of people.

It reminded me of how Guru Nanak Dev Ji went to places and met people who were not the easiest people to talk to and open their hearts to listen to others, let alone correct their behaviour. Yet, Satguru Ji's method of explaining using practical examples and making the person think using innovative ways made the most cold-hearted and egotistical people allow Gurbani into hearts and receive the Guru's message. Whether it is the example of throwing water in the opposite direction to make the Brahmins rethink about their rituals, or questioning the Muslims at Mecca about where doesn't God's House exist when asked not to point his feet towards God's House.

Over the weekend I have been slowly watching as many videos as I can on Ek Onkar TV. I found them so interesting as well as entertaining. Each short clip was full of wisdom, love and laughter as well. I hope Bhaji Meet Singh continues to make these short inspirational videos and continue inspiring us to share Gurmat in such a way that we don't insult others, spread hatred or come across oppressive, but rather come across as open and loving, whilst not compromising an inch of Gurmat. I for sure have been inspired and learnt lots from Bhaji Meet Singh's style, way and dedication to do seva.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Denmark Sikh Family Camp, July 2016...

From 1st July to 3rd July, a three-day Sikh Family camp was held at Gurdwara Singh Sabha Copenhagen in Denmark. The camp was attended by children and adults. Bhai Rajpal Singh and Bibi Prabhujit Kaur from Holland came to do seva of leading classes for children. Approximately fifty people attended the camp over the three-days. This camp was a follow on camp from April's camp. It was good to see that the enthusiasm and devotion of the Sangat is flourishing. As last time, the Sangat shared so much positivity and inspiration that it was a great privilege to be there.

The main topics that the parents and adults class covered over the camp were (i) life and teachings of Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji; (ii) how Rehat helps the mind;  (iii) Panthic Ekta and working together; and (iv) Punjabi Vs. Gurmat wedding traditions. The younger children learnt Saakhis, basics of Gurmat, teachings of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, the authors of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji and Gatka.

Some photos from the camp:

Morning Divaan

Adults/parents class
 Afternoon group work session with adults class
 Afternoon group work session with adults class
 Afternoon group work session with adults class
 Afternoon group work session with adults class
 Afternoon group work session with adults class

 Afternoon group work session with adults class

Afternoon group work session with adults class

 Younger campers playing football

Younger campers learning Gatka from Bhai Jaspal Singh (Sweden)

Younger campers learning Gatka

Afternoon class with adults

Gurdwara Baba Ji teaching Gatka

Evening Divaan - Rehraas Sahib
Evening Divaan
 Sunday Divaan - Bhai Rajpal Singh concluding the camp

Sunday Divaan
 Camper presenting to the Sangat what she has learnt

Campers receiving prizes

Campers receiving prizes

Campers receiving prizes

Dhan Guru, Dhan Hai Teree Sikhee!