Sunday, July 30, 2017

Educational Sikh Plaques

I am so excited to announce that we have new educational plaques in the langar hall at the Gurdwara Sahib. Right now we have 6 plaques and hopefully 12 more will be added soon.

Many thanks to Veerji Harjot and Amanpal for the sewa of creating and printing the posters. The posters are available for download for any individual at http://www.harjot.com



Saturday, July 29, 2017

Sikh Martyrs (Shaheeds)

I’ve been listening to kathas on youtube about Sikh martyrs (shaheeds) this week. I have to admit that I was initially hesitant to listen to kathas on this topic. In the past, when I have heard kathas about shaheedi at the Gurdwara Sahib, it’s been really difficult to hear because we remember the trauma that the Sikhs endured and usually the whole sangat is crying and sad.

A combination of things led me to just click the link and listen to the katha (and then subsequently watch more similar kathas). For one, I had already heard other kathas by Bhai Sahib (Manvir Singh Ji) and that encouraged me because I knew that I would understand and it would be easy to follow. Secondly, I really want to expand my knowledge of history, and listening to katha is a nice way to do that because I could listen while I was fixing clothes in my closet, organizing books, etc. I started listening, and in the videos Veerji kindly explains that it’s important for us to learn our history because history repeats itself. He also shared that when someone asks what the practical application of Gurbani is- it IS all the Gursikhs in our history, they are the practical application themselves. So if we want to be inspired and learn how to live Gurbani, we should learn more about our history. At this point, I ended up having a lot of reasons to listen to the kathas!

What I got from the kathas, was not just facts/knowledge, but also inspiration and pride in being a Sikh. I learned that we don’t have to be totally distraught and cry at hearing our history. When Veerji speaks in his kathas, he speaks about strength, bravery, and determination. He tells about the whole inspirational life story of the shaheeds, not just about their shaheedi. No matter how big the army we faced or what tortures the Sikhs faced, look at how we won by not giving in to the oppressors. Look at how truth got victory. I didn’t realize what difference it makes to present the same facts with chardi kalaa, with showing that we survived and grew as a nation. We should celebrate our resilience. 

Yesterday the Hukamnama I took said “Whatever God does, accept as good.” When Guru Arjan Dev Ji was tortured in boiling water, sitting on a hot plate with hot sand pouring over his body, his mind remained cool and at peace. He accepted God’s will and sacrificed his body. May we all learn from Guru Ji that no matter what the situation is happening in our lives, to make our minds one with God and at peace. Let your situations fuel your desire to find Waheguru’s boat and sail it across the world-ocean. Sing Waheguru, Waheguru, Waheguru and find your way home. 

Kathas by Bhai Manvir Singh Ji:
Baba Bandha Singh Bahadur: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ubLPJz5shc
Guru Arjan Dev Ji Shaheedi: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dL6sWCG1ew
1978 Vaisakhi https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJW5hd7PQUo 
Bhai Taru Singh Ji https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-uQCFCIdQ8
Gurdwara Reform Movement (including Saka Nankana Sahib and Saka Panja Sahib)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R7z-qpKGtwY&t=827s
I will post more links as I find them


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Clay Art (Finished!)

I feel like I posted the original clay versions of these a long time ago, maybe even a year ago! I finally painted them and they are done! 



Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Hand-made Gurdwara

Me and my little sister spent the last 3 days making a model of a Gurdwara Sahib out of craft materials. Originally it was supposed to be for her Barbies but as you can see Barbie is a little bit too big!



Monday, July 24, 2017

Quiz Yourself on Sikh History

What are the names of the Panj Pyare? Who compiled Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji? What year did the Chotta Ghalughara occur? On the banks of which river is Hazur Saheb situated? These questions and over 500 like them can be found on this website: http://www.cyber-link.net/history.htm

Originally I was thinking about getting some ideas on creating my own quiz but I decided to search and see if there was one made already. This one is more comprehensive than any quiz I could make, because it goes well beyond the history of the Guru Jis. I was surprised to realize how little Sikh history I knew after starting the quiz. It's a great learning resource because it goes through our Sikh history in question format. Our family has been quizzing each other so it makes a fun educational game as well. Be sure to check it out.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Miri Piri Divas

Currently we are celebrating Miri Piri Divas at the Gurdwara Sahib. There will be kirtan every evening from 7-9 pm. This is the celebration of when Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji (our 6th Guru) wore one kirpan representing Miri (temporal authority), and another representing Piri (spiritual authority) at the Akal Takht Sahib. Miri comes from Amir meaning ruler/prince, and therefore signifies wordly/political power. Piri comes from Pir meaning saint, and therefore represents a spiritual power. Guru Ji was emphasizing that there is both spiritual aspect to life and a physical aspect to life.

Now more on Guru Ji’s life. Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji was born June 19, 1595 to parents Guru Arjan Dev Ji and Mata Ganga Ji in Guru Ki Wadli, Amritsar. At the time of Guru Arjan Dev Ji’s martyrdom, Guru Ji sent a Sikh to tell 11 year old Hargobind “let him sit fully armed on his throne and maintain an army to the best of his capacity” (1). This was necessary given the injustice and oppression at the time. The Guruship was bestowed on Guru Hargobind on June 11, 1606, when he asked Baba Buddha Ji to give him two swords representing Miri and Piri.  Guru Ji possessed 700 horses, and his army was trained in martial arts and weapons training. This came into use, as they fought and win 4 battles against the attacking Mughals. He also built a fortress at Amritsar called Lohgarh.

Guru Ji built the Akal Takht in 1606. Akal Takht mean’s God’s throne. Again, as the Harmandir Sahib represented spiritual authority, the Akal Takht represented wordly authority.  Guru Ji also founded Kiratpur. He travelled to share knowledge about Sikhi, as did Guru Nanak Dev Ji. He even created an instrument called the Taus, which sounds like a peacock. It is unclear how many times Guru Ji was married. It appears some sources state that he was married once, but his wife changed names after marriage as was common in punjabi culture. Some sources state that he was married three times due to the circumstances- that three Sikhs rose simultaneously in sangat to respond to Guru Arjan Dev Ji’s request for a wife for his son. In those days, once it is offered, you cannot refuse or the girl goes unmarried.  The names of his wives are given as Mata Damodari, Bibi Nanaki and Bibi Mahadevi. His children were Baba Gurditta, Bibi Veero, Ani Rai, Teg Bahadur, Suraj Maal, and Baba Atal Rai.

Among the individuals against Guru Ji were Prithi Mal (his uncle), Chandu Shah, and Saikh Amad Sirhandi, who all went to the emperor Jahangir and made him fearful. Once meeting Guru Ji, however, he was taken aback by his charm. Guru Ji even saved Jahangir’s life when a lion attacked him. Remember, it was Jahangir who ordered Guru Hargobind Ji’s own father (Guru Arjan Dev Ji) to be tortured. Eventually Chandu Shah came up with a new plan when the emperor fell ill, and told an astrologer to say said that only a holy man praying for the emperor can save him, and thus Guru Ji was imprisoned for a year at Gwalior fort. When he was released, he said that he would only leave if the 52 rajas imprisoned with him could leave as well, and thus this day is called Bandi Chorr Divas (Diwali). Guru ji passed on the Guruship to Guru Rai Ji in 1701 and merged with the supreme light.

References

Old picture of Punjabi Class

Yesterday I found this old photo. Before the Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara was built on Davis Rd, we used to rent out a space. I don't remember a whole lot about it, other than the general layout. Here is a picture of sunday punjabi class.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Sab Sikhan Ko Hukam Hai, Guru Maneyo Granth

If I was to give a gift, it would be to impart the understanding of Gurbani. Such a gift could heal the physical, mental and social aspects of a person’s life. It transforms us in every single way. I know for me personally, all the energy I used to exhaust in anxious thoughts have been converted to multiplying my good qualities- I'm more passionate and creative for example. Yesterday I watched a katha about Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, which has opened my eyes and deepened my relationship with Guru Ji. In the katha, Bhai Manvir Singh talks about how Bani is Guru (the shabad is Guru) and how Guru is God (Vaho Vaho Bani Nirankaar Hai). He gave examples of how Guru Ji is very powerful (for example power to heal, power to change our lives), how Guru Ji hears our ardas and speaks to us via a Hukamnama, and how Guru Ji is always with us.

It was a really inspiring katha for me because truthfully, I had never understood my relationship with Guru Ji in this way. I’ll give you an example of what it used to be like for me. When the Hukamnama was being read as a kid, I used to find some loose thread or something on my suit, and start playing with that. All of my attention was on that little thread. I even see that a lot nowadays with little girls sitting in the Gurdwara. When I got a bit older I realized that I should at least APPEAR like I’m paying attention, given the fact that everyone else’s heads are bowed down. I tried to look the part so I would sit still, but I didn’t understand why to listen, how to listen, what to listen for. Older still, I tried to listen but my mind was lost in thoughts. Over this last year now I tried to read the translations by searching up the Hukamnama on igurbani. At least now I understand the meaning. At the same time, most days my mind says “what a lovely hukamnama” and two minutes later it is forgotten. After hearing this katha, I’m going to really try to apply what I learn from the Hukamnama. Even in Ardas, I think a lot of times we don’t share what is really on our minds with Guru Ji. We should ask our questions with honesty and we will get an answer. So this morning when I did Ardas, I asked what was on my mind, I took a hukamnama from Sikhnet https://www.sikhnet.com/hukam/personal  which I read carefully and eagerly, and I got not only the answer to my questions but some guidance to carry me forward. I think it just helped me to more fully understand how to speak to Guru Ji, and how to listen. 

P.S. In channeling my creative energy, I added a drawing to my recent post about weddings!

Kathas:

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Wildfires

Those of you living in BC already know that the wildfire situation has caused thousands of people to evacuate their homes and our province is in a state of emergency. In Prince George our community has started up a lot of efforts to help out the fire evacuees, including inviting people for langar being served at the Gurdwara Sahib. May our thoughts and prayers be with the families affected, and with the first responders who are there right now trying to manage the situation. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Weddings Continued

While we are on the topic of weddings, check out this katha about modern day Sikh weddings: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=byxR_kkYmOo 

This one is different than the topic covered about laavan in my previous post. I would encourage you to watch it with your families as well because it definitely starts conversations. I watched it with my mum and we both definitely learned a lot and had some good laughs. Bhai sahib explains about where the background of our modern day wedding rituals come from, starting from when the couple meets. He will make you laugh within the first 10 minutes of the video by giving lots of examples to probe our thinking a little bit about why we do the traditions that we do.  I was very interested to hear about our traditions because I had never heard of some of them since I have only really attended the Anand Karaj itself and not everything beforehand. I like that Bhai sahib doesn't tell us what to do or not do, but tells us where things come from so we can choose informatively what traditions we practice at our weddings. So that you aren't thinking "such and such" ritual MUST be performed for luck. 

One of the more serious and important messages that Bhai sahib emphasizes is that should definitely be discussed is that as Sikhs we really do need to stop serving alcohol at any of our wedding events.  It really saddens me to see so many young people drinking and then teaching the generations to come to do the same. Alcoholism is a serious problem in our community and we need to think about our own roles in how we are encouraging the younger generations to drink through things like peer pressure at weddings/parties and punjabi songs. Let us be leaders in changing this part of our culture. Particularly if you are a man in your 20s/30s, the influence you have of being a positive role model to other young Sikhs by not drinking alcohol is huge. Please think about it! 


Sunday, July 16, 2017

Marriage

“They are not said to be husband and wife, who merely sit together. They alone are called husband and wife, who have one light in two bodies.” (Ang 788 Guru Granth Sahib Ji).

I wrote a post last year about the meaning of Anand Karaj. Even after reading the translation of the laavan there is always more to learn. In the last four days I have listened to Veerji’s (Bhai Harinder Singh Ji of Nirvair Khalsa Jatha) katha on Anand Karaj. I learned a lot from the last few days and I would encourage all of you to go to the facebook page for the Nirvair Khalsa Jatha and listen to the kathas on Anand Karaj if you missed them. So far they have only posted the first day, but will be posting all of the kathas soon. Remember, the Anand Karaj is not just about physical marriage, but also about the marriage of the mind to God, which is the purpose of all of our lives.

In the katha, Veerji explained the meanings of each of the Laavs. In brief summary, the first laav is about making Guru Ji our guide, making efforts to do naam japna and understanding Gurbani. The second laav is about making the inside the same as the outside (being truthful) and removal of ego. The third is about filling the mind with love for God. The fourth laav is about sehaj (patience). He explained each in the context of the marriage of the mind with God and as well in our relationships.

In my last post about Anand Karaj I focused on the marriage of the mind to God. In this post I’m going to talk a little bit about our physical marriage. (Of course when we merge our mind with God any relationships we have will be easier.) It’s important particularly for those who are yet to be married, what a married life means, what the Anand Karaj means, what we need in a partner. When we are younger we think that a life partner is someone with a list of qualities. Ask my 11 year old cousin and she will tell you a husband needs to know how to cook and that’s most important. What we don’t realize in our youth is that skills are learned and therefore people can learn them later- there are more essential things to a relationship and we can’t and shouldn’t reduce people to a list. In particular it’s become common to get caught up in superficial things like last names, jobs, birth dates (astrology), skills, etc. Yet some people without any education at all have may have more understanding of God than someone with a million-dollar paying job. So let’s try to focus instead now on what Guru Ji tells us in the Anand Karaj.

Veerji explained in his katha that the married couple should make Guru Ji the center of their life, which is why we do parkarma during the Anand Karaj. Both partners should try to understand Gurbani and apply it to their lives. I was reading in Bhai Sewa Singh Ji’s book, Kiv Koodhe Tutay Paal, that we have arguments and fights in our relationships (ex. Families) because our thoughts are being pulled in different directions by maya. When we meditate on God and learn to think alike, the fighting ends. It’s important for us to apply our understanding of the Guru Granth Sahib Ji to our lives so we can learn to live in anand. 

The second laav explains that we should be truthful and honest with our partner. Veerji said don’t be afraid to lose relationships over truth. I used to think that being truthful was somewhat magical. They kind of tend to show that on TV- like you are honest and life is really amazing. I’ve lost friendships over truth though and it’s hard because you sometimes think well if I hadn’t been honest then I would still have that friend. Truthful living is the basis of Sikhi though, and you shouldn’t have to hide the truth to have someone stick around. As the third laav explains, we should fill the mind with love. 

Lastly, as the fourth laav explains, we should be patient with our partner, have full faith in them, and not get angry over small things. This forms a relationship of equals who respect and trust one another, who are supportive of each other. Everybody has their own marriage advice and you can find thousands of articles on how to find a partner, but we should trust the advice that Guru Ji is telling us! Let’s all apply what we have learned about the Anand Karaj to our daily lives- in our physical relationships and in our spiritual life.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Jatha Visiting from UK

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh!
The Nirvair Khalsa Jatha is here this week from the UK. Their programs are particularly helpful for youth because they also explain in English and they are very interactive with the sangat. Please invite as many people as you can to attend. Veerji was explaining the meaning of the 4 Laavan in the Anand Karaj, starting with Laav 1 today, and will be continuing over the next few days. Join us at the Guru Nanak Darbar Sikh temple tomorrow evening.

Check out their live feed and past programs (if you missed from Wed and today):
https://www.facebook.com/nirvairkhalsajathauk/

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh!