On Wednesday 5th December, I arranged for the school where I work to visit Singh Sabha Gurdwara in Coventry. Currently I had been teaching the Year 8s Sikhi (since September till December). Everyone was very excited to go the Gurdwara Sahib. Two other teachers and a retired devout Christian who helps out with the school accompanied the students.
When we arrived outside the Gurdwara Sahib, the students were shown the Nishaan Sahib and its importance was explained. The students then entered the Gurdwara Sahib, removed their shoes, covered their heads and washed their hands. Coming into the Langar Hall, the local sevadaars (volunteers) were introduced (Bheni Manjit Kaur, Veer Tarunjeet Singh TJ, and Veer Raman Singh). The 60 or so students were divided into groups of 3. Each local sevadaar gave a group a guided tour around the Gurdwara. The students had a worksheet with questions that I had prepared. For example they needed to know what is the Langar and its importance and then know what the Sachkhand is and how is Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji treated. This helped students to ask questions and explore more.
After a 45 minute or so guided tour, the students all came back to the Langar Hall. The importance of Pangat was explained. The students sat on the floor in lines. Sevadaars distributed the trays and Langar was poured for them. The students could not believe how generous Sikhs were. They all loved eating the chowl (rice) with masraa dee daal (yellow lentils). Most of them asked for seconds, thirds and fourths! (And they were happy that no one minded pouring them more).
The Philosophy & Religious Studies Teacher, who is from Turkey, was really impressed by the Langar and helped give out the dishes and spent time afterwards cleaning the dishes with other sevadaars in the kitchen. Vaheguru! He found doing seva very rewarding and enjoyable! He also asked for a Dastaar to be tied on him and said he found it very comfortable and relaxing to wear.
After Langar there was a Q&A session with Bhenji Manjit Kaur and then the children were given chocolates as they left. The Gurdwara Sahib kindly provided two large tins of chocolates for the school children as a gift. The school staff and students were really taken aback by the generosity and kindness of the Gurdwara Sahib, considering the Gurdwara asked for no donations.
The next week it was Year 8 Parents Evening. Each parent I met commented how their child loves Religious Studies and how they come home and tell them about what they have learnt about Sikhi. Those students who had been on the trip praised how their children enjoyed the Gurdwara. One particular mother smiled and said to me, "Mr. Singh, my child comes home and always tells me what she has learnt in Religious Studies. After the Gurdwara visit, my daughter came home and said that feels like becoming a Sikh." She said that she asked her daughter, "Why is that?" She replied, "Sikhs are the most loving, generous, kind and welcoming people I have ever known. They are not just nice and loving to their own people, but they share their love and generosity to strangers and people they don't know. They share love and kindness through feeding everyone without asking for anything in return." Vaheguru. I sat there all evening and in my mind contemplated "Dhan Guru Nanak! Dhan Guru Nanak!"
Yesterday, the retired lady who is a devout Christian, came up to me to wish me well for my new job. With a loving smile she said, "Manvir, I really enjoyed going on the trip. It was really educational and just lovely. I came home and told my husband that do you know - if I were not a Christian I would become a Sikh. They are just such lovely people. Thank you so much." Vaheguru.
Dhan Hai Guru! Dhan Hai Teree Sikhee!