Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Indiana Smaagam Trip...

In the second week October, Bhai Baljit Singh invited me the annual Indiana Akhand Kirtani Jatha Smaagam took place at Gurdwara Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib in Greenwood. The flight going there was 13 hours but as it was a transfer flight, and due to delays it was considerably longer.

At Birmingham Airport, when going through the security screening, the security officer stopped to compliment the Khanda on my Dastaar. Then when I was on boarding the plane, so many people walked pass and smiled at me. In particular, an elderly white man stopped whilst finding his seat and said, "You look so nice. What does that this badge mean?" I thought this is an ideal opportunity that I can use the Khanda emblem to explain the key concepts of Sikhi in a few minutes. I explained referring to the double-edged sword (Khanda) in the middle, "this represents that as a Sikh I am dedicated to service of the one God." Then reffering to the circle (Chakar), "this represents that the Eternal God, pervades in humanity and in the world." Then referring to the two swords (Siri Sahibs) on the edges, "one sword represents a Sikh's commitment to spiritually perfecting themselves with meditation, and the second sword represents a Sikh's commitment to serve and protect humanity." Within one or two minutes of hearing this, the man said, "that is enough for me to know. That's wonderful, and just looks beautiful."

I thought how amazing it is just to put on a Khanda. I know sometimes people say "I am not worthy of wearing a Khanda" or "I don't want to stand out." But we have to ask ourselves that are we worthy to have taken Amrit, worthy enough to wear a Kirpan gifted by Guru Ji, and the list goes on. The answer is that we are never worthy, but have these things are blessings that continually remind us to step forward and step up to the mark.

Anyway, arriving at New York airport to catch my connection flight, I was again given so much respect by the security staff. When you think of America you probably think of Mr Trump, racism and red necks. However, the people were so friendly. I had so many Americans go past and nod at me to acknowledge me and give respect. People looked and smiled and even one guy did a salute looking at me. This is the power of wearing Bana (Khalsa uniform). Wearing a Dastaar with a Khanda, a hazooriaa (white scarf) around the neck, and chola, truly is a dignifying and graceful appearance graced to us by Guru Sahib, which resonates holiness.

I was surprised to see the building of the Gurdwara Sahib in Greenwood. In the middle of nowhere Sikhs have settled, with a sizeable population and built a beautiful Gurdwara Sahib. The Sangat were very welcoming and full of pyaar. On Saturday, a bus came all the way from Toronto to bring Sanga to the Smaagam. There were young children and elderly people, one whom was walking with a walking stick, who had travelled 9 hours on the bus from Canada to attend the Smaagam and support the local Sangat of Indiana. That is what you call dedication and inspiration! We sometimes become too lazy to travel 1 hour or 30 minutes to attend Sangat, and these Gursikhs travelled 9 hours! Toronto has lots of programmes and Keertans, so why travel 9 hours? It comes down to the commitment to spread the fragrance of Guru Nanak Dev Ji's Sikhi far and wide, and share the gems of Gurbani and Gurmat with those that don't have opportunity. Otherwise we could all sit at home and keep ourselves to ourselves.

Sangat had also come from Ohio, Chicago, Montreal and Califronia. Sometimes we take Sangat for granted, and don't realise that in some places of the world Smaagams are the one of the rare chances they get to experience Sangat of Gurmukhs. Like with any other Smaagam, it was great to meet so many Chardikala Gurmukhs, enjoy the blissful Keertan, and experience the pyaar of the worldwide Khalsa family.

Some photos from the Smaagam:

Saturday morning Aasa Ki Vaar keertan which began at Amrit-Vela and finished at 1pm

Afternoon activities at some Smaagams in sleeping, or for others football or Gatka; but in Indiana it is shooting!

Bhagatjot Singh from New Jersey with two sets of ear protection (which was still not enough to block the loud noise) trying to avoid harming himself with friendly fire.

Rainsbaaee Keertan on Saturday evening

Gursikhs from Chicago and Ohio
 Gursikh sisters at Smaagam

Group photo with Gurmukhs from Toronto and USA Sangat

This Veer Ji is Sunny. He is from a Hindu background and decided to keep his Kesh and wishes to take Amrit. He tries and attends all the North America Keertan Smaagams. 

This young Bhenji is 15 years old and observing Sarbloh Rehat. At such a young age, she has lots of Banis memorized and wakes up Amritvela, whilst undertaking her studies at school. Bhenji did Langar seva.

With Gursikh family

Dhan Hai Guru, Dhan Hai Teree Sikhee!

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