Thursday, September 11, 2014

Camp Chardi Kala 2014 (New York, USA)...

This summer I was privileged to be invited to Camp Chardi Kala in the USA. Camp Chardi Kala has been running for the past 35 years. It was set up by a small group of Sikhs in the 1970s who were concerned about the upcoming generation and didn't want them to lose their Sikh identity and spirit in the wave of Westernisation. These elders sacrificed their time and put every effort into providing a religious experience for young Sikhs in USA which reinforces the Sikh spirit and pride.

 Camp organisers - Bhai Livleen Singh and Dr. Sandeep Singh. Bhai Livleen Singh's father was one of the founders of the camp. He was at the camp and is a very inspirational character who has a great love for Sikhi and the Panth.

At Amrit-vela, some campers and sevadaars would do Aasa Kee Vaar keertan. Some campers showed some real dedication for Amrit-vela and Aasa Kee Vaar. At 7am the camp began with Nitnem of Panj Banian. The very young campers did a shortened form of Nitnem separately. Afterwards campers have breakfast followed by intensive training for learning a particular Nitnem Bani the camper chooses. Following on from this, all the campers would congregate around the Nishaan Sahib to sing shabads and sometimes there would be Gatkaa performed. A short divaan was held afterwards in the Darbaar Sahib where campers do Keertan and the morning Hukamnama is explained. There were Gurmat classes where campers rotated between the different speakers, followed by lunch. The afternoon was for sports and activities. At 4.30pm campers would gather in the Darbaar Sahib for Simran, Keertan and Rehraas Sahib. After evening dinner the campers would gather again in Darbaar Sahib for Keertan and evening activities.

Three particular things stood out for me in the camp. Firstly, the morning Nishaan Sahib salaamee, where the campers gather outside in front of the Nishaan Sahib to sing the shabads - "...Jai Tegun" and "Deh Shiva..". The campers do loud jaikaaray and raise their arms and it helps to instil a feeling of pride of great and rich history of sacrifices and bravery. Secondly, it was so nice to see all the campers able to do keertan and so many campers knew Raag keertan. The Raag keertan was sung so well and some young campers beautifully sang Dasam Bani shabads which otherwise are difficult to pronounce for youngsters let alone sing wonderfully. Thirdly, in the evenings before retiring back to the cabins to sleep, the sevadaars would sing a Sikh lullaby based on the Sikh Gurus, followed by some Simran and Sohila Sahib. It was a really nice way to unwind for the day and go to sleep thinking of all the Ten Gurus and Sri Guru Granth Sahib jee.

 Morning divaan

Hukamnama vichaar by Bhai Jasdeep Singh Texas

Campers being trained to do Ardaas

 Intensive training in learning a Nitnem Bani. This group was learning how to recite Tav Prasaad Svaiyye. Groups then moved on to the meanings of words and the message of the Bani.

Intensive training in how to do Maharaaj's Seva.

Singing outside before Nishaan Sahib

Campers doing Jaikaaray

Gatka being performed in the morning

 Gatka being performed in the morning

 Photo with Bhai Jasdeep Singh Texas. A very inspirational speaker who does Sikhi Parchaar in English and Panjabi.

Morning Gurmat class for elders

Morning talk by Bhai Jasdeep Singh Texas with elder campers

Younger campers learning Gatka

Younger campers presenting what they have learnt in their class

Afternoon activities

One day there was a carnival where campers and sevadaars were plunged into a pool

Some people at the camp took "Thandaa Ishnaan" (cold shower) maryada too far. lol

Camp fire
 Camp fire Saakhi by Bhai Jasdeep Singh Texas

Camp fire bedtime lullaby

Evening Divaan

Young camper taking Hukamnama

Evening presentation on 30 years of 1984

Late night group discussion
Simran and Keertan before bedtime by Bhai Kavitoj Singh.

 Talent show - young Singh sang a rap about wearing a Dastaar. A well thought it rap.

Sangat watching talent show

Veer jee sang a rap about 1984 in memory of 30 years

Keertan from camp be listened/downloaded from the following link:


Dhan Hai Guru! Dhan Hai Teree Sikhee!

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