In a word, Sidak was amazing!
Not that one word could ever adequately sum up one of the most powerful and enriching experiences of my life….
Last year, I took the opportunity to participate in Sidak, a two-week program run by the Sikh Research Institute. I had heard about Sidak from friends, and had been advised most often that the program was “intense.” But truly, just as one word cannot describe the aftereffects of the Sidak experience for me, neither did this one word come even close to preparing me for the adventure I was about to embark on.
I am fairly new to Sikhi. When I was growing up, we went to the gurdwara for gurpurabs or whenever family friends were doing langar seva. I always sat there, disinterestedly, as the prayers and rituals went on around me, counting down the minutes until we could leave and I could go home and change out of my uncomfortable salwar kameez.
Fast forward a decade or so – feeling a lost and ungrounded, I decided that there had to be more to life than working way too many hours, collecting a piddly paycheck, and going about the daily banalities of life. I wanted to be able to turn to something higher and deeper as my foundation. Could that be a religion and a faith? I admired how easily it seemed to come to my more devout friends and colleagues and longed for the sense of peace and higher purpose that they seemed to cultivate effortlessly.
So I took the plunge. The plunge into an intense two-week Sikhi immersion experience. Twice-daily divans, classes, workshops, discussions, seminars, reading, studying, learning, and growing. As a relative beginner in my journey, I chose the Sikhi 101 track – where we spent many hours reading and dissecting Asa Ki Var, learning about Sikh history, and working on Punjabi pronunciation. There were also a number of classes and discussions where all the Sidak participants from the other tracks would come together to learn about other topics, including 1984, leadership and career development.
The two weeks at Sidak changed something for me. Learning where Sikhi started and how it has come to be, realizing that Sikhi is more than just the prayers and the rituals I had grown up watching, bonding with all of the other participants and the instructors at Sidak – each of whom readily admitted that they too were at their own place in their personal journey – and learning from them and drawing inspiration from them. In the end I realized it was above all a privilege to be able to learn and absorb such passionate love for Sikhi from these other people, who all took time away from their own lives and jobs and families to come run Sidak and help all of us develop and nurture our own love for Sikhi.
So here I am, nine months later. And what is the outcome? Sidak grew in me an appreciation of the words and messages of the Guru in providing guidance for living a worthy and fulfilled life, and an overarching love for Waheguru. I now look forward to going to the gurdwara, to feel the warmth and love that comes from being part of a sangat, and to listen to the melodic messages of the shabads that provide timeless guidance and perspective to us.
One could reasonably conclude that my journey was complete, as I had initially begun my quest in search of something more fulfilling, and now I had seemed to find it.
However, as a Sikh, I learned at Sidak too that I am an eternal student – forever seeking to learn and to continue to develop myself and my spirituality. And so my journey continues.
And it is not a solo one – I must take the initiative on my own, but I have my community and my sangat to serve as support and inspiration. And we are so fortunate to have an array of resources available to us, including programs by SikhRI and other institutions.
It is my hope to return to Sidak this Summer for the Sikhi 201 track, to continue my education and development, and to continue to nurture the spirit of Sikhi within me, with the recognition that it will be up to us to continue teaching and inspiring the next generation of Sikhs, as those before us have done for us. I hope I get to meet you there when you come for your own Sidak experience.
Sidak 2013 is from 28 July-10 August this year.
Applications and more information can be found at www.sidak.org