Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Gurdwara Visit by School Children



On Tuesday school children visited Singh Sabha Gurdwara, Cross Road, in Coventry. Usually a Bhenji does the seva of showing the students around and doing a short talk, but she couldn't get time off work so Daas had the opportunity to do seva. Local bhajis also came to help out - Bhaji Govinder Singh and Ravneet Singh. Around 50 children or so, aged 9 years old, came. Their teacher said that they were to start their Sikh religion project in a few weeks time, so the visit was to get them a glimpse of the Sikh religion and the Gurdwara before studying it at school.

They took off their shoes, covered their heads and washed their hands and then few at a time went to the Darbaar Sahib and were shown how to do Matha Tekh and then received Parshaad. In Darbaar Sahib they were told that this place is called the "Gurdwara" and that they were sitting in the "Darbaar Sahib". I got them to repeat key words so that they could remember the words correctly. They were told that in the Gurdwara the main part is the Darbaar Sahib.

I asked them, "What is the main focus of the Darbaar Sahib?" One boy answered "The Book" (pointing towards Guru Sahib). The worst thing was that this boy was from a Panjabi Sikh family! I explained that, "Guru Granth Sahib is the Sikh Sacred Scripture, which is the Word of God. It's more special than a "Book" because it's the Word of God and is the Guru of the Sikhs. Sikhs don't like Guru Granth Sahib to be called a Book because its considered very special." Then they were all asked about the purpose of people coming to the Darbaar Sahib. They then replied, "To pray", "To talk to God", "To think in your mind" and "Sing together".

The talk in the Darbaar Sahib was short and then everyone moved to the Langar Hall where mats were laid out for them to sit. Here, the fundamentals of Sikhi were explained in basic language. I asked, "Who is the founder of the Sikh religion?". Again, the boy from the Panjabi Sikh family, put his hand up and replied, "It's Guru Gobind Singh". Waheguru. I said, "Well done, but not quite right." So I got them all to repeat "Guru Nanak". To help them understand, I asked, "Who founded Christianity?" They all said "Jesus". "Who founded Islam?" They said "Muhammad". "Similarly, the Sikh religion was founded by Guru Nanak. He went around the world telling people to be good, remember God, not to be nasty to others and see God within all".

A boy then asked, "What do you call God?" I replied, "Waheguru - meaning Wonderful Lord. There is one God, the same for everyone. People call God different names but it is the one God whose light is within all of you and everywhere." The basic principles of Sikhi are 1) remember and pray to God (Naam Japo), 2) live & work honestly (Kirat Karo), and 3) share with others (Vand Chhako). Afterwards I asked that if anyone remembered the principles.

I explained that after Guru Nanak Sahib jee there were nine other Gurus, who all shared the same light, spirit and message. I stopped and asked, "So how many Gurus were there?" A girl put her up and said, "ten". I then asked, "Who is the tenth Guru?" I looked at the Panjabi boy who had earlier said that Guru Gobind Singh jee was the first Guru. He now smiled and replied, "Guru Gobind Singh".

It was explained that Guru Nanak founded the religion and the other nine Gurus built upon the religion and it was finally completed by Guru Gobind Singh who made the Sikhs into "Saint-Warriors". Guru Gobind Singh gave the Sikhs a distinct uniform To relate it to the school children I pointed out that just as they were wearing school uniforms, the Sikhs have a uniform too.

I asked them "Why Sikhs don't cut their hair?" There was no reply. I then explained that God has given us an arm (they pointed to their arm), then leg (they pointed to their leg) and similarly, God has given us hair. "As Sikhs we see the hair and body as a gift from God and so we don't cut it. The hair is seen as sacred because when we pray and chant God's Name we believe that all the hair vibrate with God's Name. For example, when you are scared, cold or get an electric shock your hair stand up! Similarly, when a Sikh prays in the morning and meditates, energy passes through the hair and each hair meditates on God, so its special. To keep the hair tidy it is combed everyday, tied up at the top of the head and covered with a turban - which is our crown."

Each of the five K's uniform was explained in brief, trying to relate it to their world of thinking and using other examples to illustrate the purpose of the Kakkaars. To end with the concept of Langar was talked about and the Saakhi of Guru Nanak Sahib jee feeding the hungry. They sounded really interested and one asked, "Will we be getting something to eat as well?" lol.

So the talk ended there and the everyone was requested to sit in lines and were given plates and cups. Some said that they didn't want langar because earlier they had been told that they cannot leave "jooth" (wastage). Quite suprisingly only a few of them had a spoonful of sabjee and a quarter of roti. After a few minutes everyone was asking for roti BY ITSELF. lol. Some had mithhe chowl (sweet rice) but all of them kept asking "Can we have more chappattis". They were really happy just eating roti by itself with no daal or sabjee. Waheguru.

Giani jee then gave everyone chocolates and crisps. Waheguru! It was then mayhem! All the children got hyper because Giani jee was generously given two or three crisp packets per person. lol. Two of the teachers came up to me and said, "I cannot believe this." They were both smiling and said, "We are Christians and go to church. We would never welcome any stranger to the church with this much love and generosity. I am overwhelmed by the love of your people and religion and how welcoming you are. You would never expect this from any other religion. I am truly glad that the chldren were able to come to the Gurdwara and see this." Waheguru.

Dhan Hai Guru, Dhan Hai Teri Sikhi! When Goray see Sikhi and share these feelings with you it really makes you appreciate Sikhi and Guru jee.

The purpose of writing the post is that if there are no school visits to your local Gurdwara then please do take up the seva. It doesn't have to be complicated - keep it simple, short, basic, relate to the world of children and keep asking them questions as you speak! Through visiting schools and talking about Sikhi and inviting schools to Gurdware children can grow up knowing who Sikhs are and hopefully take away something from Guru Nanak Sahib jee's message.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh!

Please forward this humble benti to the Saadh Sangat.

'Satgur ki sevaa safal hai, je ko kare chit laaey.. Man chindiaa phal paavnaa,
haumai vicho jaaey..'

On the 5th February, Guru Ka Langar will be served for the first time at
University College London. Serving will be from 10am - 4pm, and we aim to help
provide for as many people as possible to enjoy food from the Guru's kitchen.
This will require an immense committment to Seva, from all of us. Let us all
come together in Simran and Seva to help people from all walks of life
experience the love and humility of Guru Ji.

Please help by doing any of the following:

1. Forwarding this message

2. Confirm your attendance at

http://uclac.facebook.com/event.php?eid=11990755247

3. Invite all your friends to the facebook event.

4. Email sikh.society@ucl.ac.uk, stating the times you/your sevadaars will
available to help.

Even if you only have a short amount of time, please come and help make this a
truly blessed day.

For more details, please see www.uclsikhsociety.co.uk. If you have any
questions, please do not hesitate to contact sikh.society@ucl.ac.uk.

Thank you.

UCL Sikh Society

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh

Anonymous said...

end of month kirtan is really good bhaji. Glad see you came this month to. good work by sevadars

Anonymous said...

Can you please promote the ucl guru ka langar event on your blog paaji?! A lot of sangat check your blog regularily, and it would really help us, your younger brothers and sisters out!
There is a poster on www.uclsikhsociety.co.uk under the events section!

Please attend if you can too!

Thank you

manpreet said...

Sounds like it was a great and informative session! The kids must have sounded really adorable asking for more rotiyaan =)
Manpreet Kaur