“Sikhs and Shastars” seminar in Surrey
November 25, 2012 – Guru Nanak Academy in Surrey, BC hosted a seminar called “Sikhs and Shastars”. The seminar, organized by Shaheed Baba Deep Singh Ji Gatka Akhara (Surrey) & Khalsa Sewa Dal (India), was in commemoration of the Janam Divas of Amar Shaheed Sahibzada Baba Jorawar Singh Ji and in remembrance of Dhan Sri Guru Teg Bahadur Sahib Ji and all Sikh martyrs. Approximately 200 spectators from all ages took advantage of this golden opportunity to learn more about Shastars and their significance in the Sikh way of life.
The “Sikhs and Shastars” seminar invited participants to explore the heritage of Shastars, their uses, their connection with Gurus and Sikhs and the practicality of Shastar Vidiya. The seminar was presented by world-renowned Gatka Ustaad Bhai Onkar Singh Khalsa. Local Sangat was honoured to have Ustaad Onkar Singh here to share his knowledge and experience about Shastar Vidiya. Ustaad Onkar Singh Khalsa is a four-time consecutive national gold medallist Gatka champion, international gold medallist, International Gatka Award holder and researcher/writer on Shaster Vidiya. He started learning Gatka at the age of six and has twenty-four years of experience. He travels the world, holding International gatka camps and teaching over 2000 students annually.
This event was one of the first of its kind in North America. A PowerPoint presentation focused on how every Sikh Guru contributed to the formation of the Khalsa Fauj. The sixth Guru Sahib, Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji is well known for donning two Kirpans, representing the establishment of Miri Piri. However, even prior to this, his predecessors were also brave Saint Soldiers who stood up to tyrants, but sought not to employ their skills in Shastar Vidiya. The Gurus taught peace, well-being for all, and only used force as a last resort to protect the freedom of the oppressed. Gurbani, Janam Sakhis, and pictures were provided in the presentation as examples to support these teachings.
The gallery of Guru Nanak Academy had displayed an exhibition called “The Sikhs and The World Wars” which showcased a collection of rare photos of Sikhs in modern warfare. Viewers were able to appreciate that Sikhs with turbans and beards fought in the front lines for Britain in World War I and World War II to contribute to the world’s democracy. This exhibition showed that the courage the Gurus instilled into their Sikhs and zest to serve humanity is still much alive today.
The seminar also had a fine display of Puraatan Shastars that local Sikhs brought forth to showcase. The Sangat commented that they had learned lots of new facts about the Guru Sahiban’s relationships with Shastars and about the different types of Shastars to which they had never before been exposed.
Many observers stated that their favourite part of the program was the hand-to-hand combat and Gatka demonstration. Viewers were amazed at how seemingly easily Ustaad Onkar Singh defended himself with a Kamarkasa (length of wide cloth tied around the waist) or umbrella against multiple attackers. Shastar Vidiya teaches how regular tools can be used for self-defence.
Guru Nanak Academy hosted this free public event and provided tasty and healthy snacks and refreshments to those in attendance. Sevadaars encourage readers to eat healthy, be more physically active and stress the importance of respecting Shastars and learning Gatka. It was a great learning experience for the whole family, kids and adults alike.
The Sangat praised Ustaad Onkar Singh for being a powerful and knowledgeable speaker who had a friendly, inviting tone to his presentations. Ustaad Onkar Singh is currently teaching Gatka at the Guru Nanak Academy and Khalsa School, both of which are in Surrey. Guru Nanak Academy holds Gatka classes every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings. Other martial arts and physical fitness programs are also available throughout the year.
Sevadaars have been asked to hold similar programs in other cities of Metro Vancouver to promote Gatka-awareness and physical fitness. It is important for our community to support such programs that help promote the Guru’s way of life.
For more information about signing up to learn Gatka or for making donations/contributing towards similar programs visit http://www.gurunanakacademy.com or contact Ustaad Onkar Singh Khalsa at [email protected]. Feel free to check the daily schedule and stop by #209 – 7938 128 Street, Surrey for a visit.