We were all served some fruit before the Sangat was to do Keertan. Mata Gurdev Kaur Ji asked Bhai Surjit Singh Ji Nadala and I, on several occasions, if we could speak to her grandchildren and convince them to follow the Guru's Path. I explained to Mata Ji that Sikhi is a gift from Guru Ji, and that I don't have the ability to make anyone a Gursikh. We can only share the love and knowledge of the Guru, and provide Sangat for someone. The dard (anguish) and longing Mata Ji had for wanting her family to follow Gursikhi was heart whelming.
Before going to Guru Ji's room, Mata Ji did an emotional benti (request) that can Bhai Sahib do the following Ardaas, "May the Buttaa (plant) of Sikhi remain in my family. May it never dry up. After I am gone, may Sikhi continue in this family." Mata Ji had tears in her eyes when making this request. Bhai Sahib accepted Mata Ji's humble bent (request).
In Guru Ji's room, everyone gathered. Youngsters did Keertan, followed by Bhai Surjit Singh Ji. Mata Ji was clearly joyed and overwhelmed that the Sangat had travelled so far to see her and do Keertan. It made me realize how we take Sangat for granted, and even listening to Keertan! Not everyone has the opportunity to attend the Gurdwara, or Smaagams, either for health reasons or the simple fact that there is no Gurdwara or community nearby.
After the Keertan, Bhai Sahib fulfilled Mata Ji's wish and did Ardaas on behalf of the Sangat, that the seed of Sikhi flourishes and grows in her family, and continues on. It was amazing, how Mata Ji had made all of Guru Ji's bastars (clothes), and does Guru Ji's seva daily, despite old age and health problems.
Before leaving, I took the opportunity to sit with Mata Ji and ask her some questions about her life. Below is a short biography of Mata Ji's life:
Mata Ji's husband was born in New Zealand. Her husband's grandfather had immigrated to New Zealand a long time ago. Therefore, her husband was 3rd generation. Her husband went to India to marry her, and she came over to New Zealand in 1953. In 1973, she made the decision to wear black clothes, to display humility. In 1977, she travelled to India with her in-laws. This was her first time back to India. As her children were now grown-up, she decided that despite her husband not being religious, she wanted to take Amrit. Without telling many people, she decided to take Amrit on her visit to Sri Hazoor Sahib.
When she approached the Jathedar about taking Amrit, he gave her a leaflet to read, and a Gutka Sahib. He asked her to read the leaflet before making her mind to take Amrit. The leaflet stated that women were not given Khande-Di-Pahul at the Takht Sahib, as taking Amrit of the double-edged sword brings Bir-Rass (the warrior-spirit). As women are already hot tempered and full of spirit, taking Khande-Di-Pahul, would risk women causing problems in their respective homes and fighting with their husbands, as they will not be able to control themselves. Therefore, the leaflet said women are instead given 'Kirpan Amrit', which I remember correctly she said was prepared by one Singh.
Desperate to quench her thirst for the Guru, she agreed to the 'Kirpan Amrit', although she did find it strange that Amrit that had been equally given to men and women by Guru Gobind Singh Ji, had been changed by the Takht custodians. Although, in the Amrit ceremony she had not explicity been told to keep Bibek and only eat and dine with the Khalsa, she said that everytime she looked at food that had been cooked by those who did not fully observe the Guru's Rehat, whether at home, at the Gurdwara or someone's house, she would see things moving around in it. She would get turned off. From day 1, Guru Ji blessed Mata Ji with cooking her own food and eating it.
Mata Ji, said although she knew within her soul that she was incomplete without a Dastaar, she never had anyone instruct her to wear a Dastaar or teach her how to tie one. She said that she had never seen a woman with a Dastaar, but knew that it was what Guru Ji intended for both men and women. In 1985, she saw the first Dastaar wearing Singhni in New Zealand. The Bibi's name was Bibi Amarjit Kaur Ji of Dyalpur. Mata Ji said that seeing her made her overjoyed. She straightaway asked her if she could teach her how to tie a Dastaar. Since then, she has kept the Rehat of staying in full Khalsa Bana.
A year later, in 1986, there was an Amrit Sanchaar on 31s December in New Zealand. 25 Singhs of the Akhand Kirtani Jatha, had travelled to New Zealand to spread the message of Guru Nanak Dev Ji through Kirtan and inspire the Sangat to take Amrit. This group of Singhs included Bhai Rama Singh Ji and Bhai Rajinder Singh Ji Dudley. That day, 45 people recieved the gift of Amrit. Mata Ji, also took Amrit in accordance to Gur Maryada and got Naam Drir from the Panj Pyaare. She said, she felt very blessed having being blessed with Amrit and Naam.
In 1989, Bhai Jeevan Singh Ji visited New Zealand. Bibi Ji said that Singhs always asked to eat food cooked by her hands. She felt very priveleged and blessed that she had the opportunity to serve Gursikhs. For some time, Mata Ji stayed at the Gurdwara Sahib as her children were now grown ups, and Mata Ji wanted to dedicate time to serving the Guru and serving the Sangat at the Gurdwara, and escape the influences of Maya. At some point later, she came back home where now her son and grandsons take care of her.
Despite old age, Mata Ji wakes up Amrit-Vela, does Naam Simran, loving does Guru Ji's Saroops's seva, and cooks her own Parshaadaa. Truly the Guru's Sikhi is the life and soul of Mata Ji, and she cannot bear the thought of her children to lose the opportunity of becoming the beloved children of Guru Gobind Singh Ji. Listening to Mata Ji's story, it reminded me time and again, of the embroidery she has made by hand on Guru Ji's Rumaala Sahib - Rehat Pyaaree Mujh Ko, Sikh Pyaare Naahi (Guru Gobind Singh Ji says: "I love the Rehat, not the Sikh.")