Saturday, March 04, 2006

Travelling to Gravesend for Anand Kaaraj

Today I attended someone's wedding at Gravesend Gurdwara. Ravjeet Singh and I went from London Bridge to Gravesend. We got to London Bridge station about 9.40am and quickly bought our tickets because the train was leaving at 9.55am.

I looked at the board and it said "Platform 4" to Dartford and from there we had to get a bus to Gravesend (because Gravesend train station was closed). Chalo, so we went towards the train platforms. At the barriers I asked one of the ticket officers "Excuse me. Could you please tell me where platform 4 is?" He replied, "Yes. Where are you going." "Gravesend" I replied. Sat Naam. The bloke didn't bother to tell me where PLATFORM 4 is! Instead he goes, "Let me check what the quickest route is". I told him that I don't need to know the route; I have checked it on the Internet. I just wanted to know where PLATFORM 4 is. Waheguru!

The bloke started to look at his files and said "Erm... no direct trains to Gravesend... so let’s see you will have to take..." Rab Bhalla Kare! I KNEW THIS. I just wanted to know which direction PLATFORM 4 is. I said, "Leave it, its okay." He replied, "I can't tell you the platform without making sure it’s the right train for you." Just as I leave he says, "Yes, you have to get platform 4!" O deary me! How frustrating (because I already knew that)! I found out where platform 4 is by myself! lol.

We got off at Dartford train-station and got on the bus. Waheguru! The bus was pretty old looking. It felt like being on a bus in INDIA! It was a BUMPY ride because the bus was old. As we got near Gravesend train-station the bus driver stopped at the traffic lights and opened the doors. So everyone thought 'okay we can get out'. One lady gets out and then he closes the door and carries on driving. Then he reopens the door while in traffic, and closes it again. Either the door had technical difficulties or the driver couldn't make up his mind where to open and close the doors!

Most people had stood up as the driver was opening the door, and the train-station was near approaching. We stood near the front of the bus. The bus driver accelerated and suddenly pressed the brakes. As he did this I lost my balance and fell sideward’s on top of a lady sitting near the window. Sat Naam. She wasn't impressed at all. I grabbed hold of the seat handle, trying to make sure my body-weight doesn't collapse on the lady. But I was struggling. Next thing Ravjeet Singh is tugging on to my Hazooriaa making sure I get up and save the lady from being squashed! I just about got up and the lady was ANNOYED. She looked ANGRY. I said "Sorry" a few times. She said "Its Okay" but on her face I could see that she was upset with me. Waheguru!

Then suddenly an old lady behind me says "You should be ashamed of yourself." I looked back and saw an elderly Gori lady. I said, "Excuse me? Who me?" I hadn't done anything wrong. If she thought losing balance and nearly falling over someone was shameful then God help her. She said, "No, not you. Your friend." Waheguru! Ravjeet Singh looked around and looked confused at what the lady was going on about. I didn't know whether to laugh or not! It was hilarious but at same time the old lady was getting annoyed and loudly speaking to us.

The lady said to Ravjeet Singh, "I saw you push the lady. I saw you! You should be ashamed of yourself." "Who me?" said Ravjeet. "Yes, you! You pushed the lady. I bet you wouldn't have done that if it was one of your own lot. You wouldn't push your own sisters but its okay to push others." Sat Naam. Either this lady was old and confused, or she had some issues!

ਫਰੀਦਾ ਬੁਰੇ ਦਾ ਭਲਾ ਕਰਿ ਗੁਸਾ ਮਨਿ ਹਢਾਇ
fareedaa bure daa bhalaa kar, gusaa man na hadhaa-e.
Fareed, answer evil with goodness; do not fill your mind with anger.

ਦੇਹੀ ਰੋਗੁ ਲਗਈ ਪਲੈ ਸਭੁ ਕਿਛੁ ਪਾਇ ॥੭੮॥
dehee rog na lage-ee, palai sabh kichh paa-e. 78
Your body shall not suffer from any disease, and you shall obtain everything. 78
(Ang 1381-82)

We looked blank, thinking "Who’s pushed who!" Waheguru Bhalla Kare! No-one got pushed and the lady in front was getting her baby's buggy out and so why would he want to push her. Instead we actually waited for the lady. Chalo, I suppose it added to the Drama Baajee of the day.

Then we were told to go LEFT from the train station and there would be a taxi stand. We planned to ask one of the Panjabi taxi drivers for directions to the Gurdwara. But there was NO taxi to be seen or taxi stand. We carried on walking and bumped into a Panjabi looking aunty. We stopped her and asked, "Aunty jee, can you help us to find the Gurdwara." I was shocked at her saying "What Adharmeeaa da Gurdwara or which one?" Adharmee literally means 'one without faith' but in India it is also used for "low-caste people".

ਸਾਧੂ ਕੀ ਜਉ ਲੇਹਿ ਓਟ
saaDhoo kee jau lehi ott.
(O consciousness!) If you seek the Support of the Guru,

ਮਿਟਹਿ ਪਾਪ ਸਭ ਕੋਟਿ ਕੋਟਿ

tere mitteh paap sabh kott kott.

millions upon millions of your sins shall be totally erased.

ਜਪੈ ਨਾਮੁ
kehi ravidaas jo japai naam.

Says Ravidaas, one who chants Naam, the Name of Waheguru,

ਜਾਤਿ ਜਨਮੁ ਜੋਨਿ ਕਾਮੁ ॥੪॥੧॥

tis jaat na janam na jon kaam. 41

is not concerned with caste, (low) social class, birth and rebirth. 41

(Ang 1196)

It later on found out that the lady was referring to the "Ravidaas" Gurdwara in Gravesend. Its such a shame that caste-communities have made their "own" Gurdwaras" and labelled the Guru's House with their own names for example, "Ravidaas Gurdwara", "Ramgarhia Gurdwara", "Bhatra Gurdwara"...etc. Have we LOST THE PLOT? What about "GURU's" Gurdwara? Gurbani says that those who do Naam Simran and are linked to Naam are not concerned with caste, birth or these UNIMPORTANT labels. Perhaps this just shows that our Gurdwaras are NOT run by Gursikhs but Manmukhs who are NOT practising or living Sikhi yet become the representatives of Guru Nanak's House. Rab Bhalla Kare!

Chalo, the Aunty jee didn't have a clue anyway where the Gurdwara was because she said she had recently come from India. lol. Waheguru! So we walked on. Sat Naam! At last we find "Randhawa Newsagents". So I am about to walk in and a Singh uncle jee walks out (white trimmed beard and wearing a pagh). "Praise the Lord! Success!" I thought to myself. I asked uncle jee for directions. He had car keys in his hands. I thought he would look at us (wearing Kurta and Bana) and give us a lift to the Gurdwara considering he said it is not too far. But instead he said, "Walk down, go right, then 3rd left." Then he walked off.

We kept walking and found NO Sikh or Panjabi looking person to ask whether we are walking in the right direction. Eventually I faced the traffic coming up the road and spotted a Singh in a car. I waved at it and the Uncle jee stopped his car to the side. Waheguru had answered our Ardaas. The uncle jee was from London who had come for the wedding. He was also looking for the Gurdwara. He offered us a lift. So we sat down. Ravjeet Singh made a phone call to find out about directions and 'hey presto' the Gurdwara was just round the corner.

Eventful journey! :)


Anonymous said...

bhaji, did you get any photos of the wedding?

Manvir Singh Khalsa said...

unfortunately i didn't take any photos of the wedding.

Baljivan Singh said...

Ha Ha Ha can't stop laughing pajee!
How hillarious :)
poor Ravjeet Singh though.

Anonymous said...

Manvir Singh Khalsa Ji,


About the whole caste thing. I used to think that all Sikh’s are the same growing up. Its only when you become older you realise that everything from weddings and Gurdwaras are based on caste. Guru Nanak Ji makes it very clear that in Sikhism there is no caste system but why do Sikhs still base everything on caste. Do you not find it sad?


mandeep singh

Dhadi Master said...

hahahahaha. i cant stop laughing. u falling on the lady, so funny. y did it happen to u?so funny. ravjeet singh get told by the old lady infront of lol.

yea the caste issue cums up again and again.its just laughable, look at ppl being proud of somthing very false ie caste.

Manvir Singh Khalsa said...

Kidaa Dhadi Master Sahib jee!

Waheguru ji ka Khalsa,
Waheguru ji ki Fateh!

Gurmukho! It was funny for us AFTERWARDS at the time I was flustered, embarrassed and thinking "are all Gravesend people like this?"

Don't want to offend any Gravesend Sangat, but the bus journey was awful and Gravesend people didn't represent themselves well!

As we got off the bus a man with a push-chair (who got off our bus) started swearing and "f" this, "f" that.

Sat Naam. So much Krodh (anger)! The bloke said "Dont "f"ing push me". When I heard this I thought "Hiaa Rabbaa NOT AGAIN!!!" (Hoping that he wasn't accuse me or Ravjeet Singh of pushing anyone!)

But Rab Da Shukar that he was referring to someone else. But I felt sorry for the other chap. Waheguru!

msingh said...

Manvir Singh ji on the subject of gurudwaras and caste it would be interesting to know

- why we are in a situation where Gurudwaras are run along 'caste lines'

- should we attend these 'gurudwaras run by manmukhs'?

- is there any 'asli' gurudwara which you would recommend as worthy of attending?


Manvir Singh Khalsa said...

M-Singh Sahib jee.

1. Gurdwaras which are run by caste-lines are usually because they did not feel part of the main Gurdwara. Gurdwara Committees should try to include everyone, however prejudices push some people away.

2. Gurdwara is Gurdwara. Where there is Guru Granth Sahib da Prakaash is a pavitar place and a Gursikh would go to. However some people feel it "disheartening" when Gurdwaras are not run in accordance to Gur Maryada and Committees don't listen to suggestions from Sangat, so people end up going to a Gurdwara where they feel more at peace and where they learn more.

3. "Asli" Gurdwara is GURU-DWAARA, the Guru's Gate. "Asli" Gurdwara is where Guru Granth Sahib da Parkaash is and people can interact and communicate with Guru jee and be inspired. However, we have put our own labels and identities on the Guru's Gate. Someone who labels a Gurdwara after their caste is "no lesser" a Gurdwara - however the Parbandhaks have NOT recognised that this is REALLY "GURU's" House andn not OUR caste community's house.

That's daas' vichaar. I am young and don't know much about the politics or deeper background of the issue regarding formation of caste issues. But I would recommend that Gurdwaras change their name so that they are not named after individuals, groups, castes or personal names in true Sikh spirit.

bhul chuk maaf.

(hope i didn't offend anyone in my comments or in the post)

Confused Khalsa said...

we should think of some names for gurudwara to replace the caste based ones!
my favourite name in the UK is "Khalsa Mero Roop Hai Khaas Gurudwara Sahib" in Southshields, what an inspired name!

msingh said...

Thank you for your reply Manvir Singh ji. I would also add two other things that can also diminish the function of a gurudwara. One is politics, and the other is when people start running as 'cash cows' or busninesses.


dass said...

Start folloing Sikhi nd doing active seva to change things in the community efore you strt thinking of names. there are more sevas then sitting on ur pc! Theres no point of wasting time on thinking about names etc. go and do parchar like Mr Manvir

rsingh said...

hmmm intresting story. Yes intresting day to lol.