Yatra Camp Guests
Tuesday, April 13th At 9:30 a.m. this morning we all formed our Nagar Kirtan procession and again marched into Anandpur Sahib, hoping to bow our heads at Keshgarh Sahib. What an amazing sight! The Miri Piri Academy students again led us, with their gatka swords and swirling chakras, and drums beating. The thousands and thousands of pilgrims greeted each other with friendly "Bole So Nihals" and "Wahe Guru Ji Ka Khalsas!"
There is such a great energy of spirit here. As we neared Keshgarh Sahib, we realize the crowds were all but impenetrable. All I could think was, HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE HERE? As far as you could see there was an ocean of colorful turbans and chunis everywhere, especially on the hillside that leads to Keshgarh Sahib. The crowd became so intense, that we soon realized we could not proceed forward to Keshgarh Sahib. So, as we were stopped and obviously not going anywhere, the Miri Piri Academy students formed a gatka sparring circle and entertained the crowds for 15 to 20 minutes.
The crowds are literally so full now that as individuals walk through the crowd, you have no space. I mean NO space between you and the persons on all four sides of you. This experience is at once, terrifying and indescribably fun. I must say, there is something about the crowds that you must find just a little comical. In reality, you must have a sense of humor if you are going to enjoy the throngs of people who are here with true bhakti devotion for the tenth masters darshan. The personal space one normally realizes in life is not to be found. I think I can say, it may be a uniquely Indian experience to be packed tightly together like this, in a crowd, waiting to move. You turn your head, and look eye into eye, at the face of a person youve never met in your life, a face you may never see again. And as you experience this, the one thing you both know is, that you are both definitely HERE. You also know you are both not going anywhere soon, so you make the most of it, smile, and laugh. God has a sense of humor. Guru is here in each body, face, and soul.
There are times when you cant move forward or back and you cant see where you are in space either. Your long lost brother could pass by you just a few feet away and you wouldnt even know it. You dont know if there is a step below your own feet or not, so those before you yell out what is coming up ahead. Its a little scary, because if you did fall down, you really wonder if you would be able to get back up again. Fortunately for us, the older students of Miri Piri Academy and some of our yatra sevadars find a space and guide us through the crowds. Many shoes, bags, and glasses are lost to the crowds. In order to return to our camp we proceeded on around Keshgarh Sahib and down through a giant stairway. When we returned to camp I was at once exhausted and energized. I now have a much better appreciation of the saying, "THE JOURNEY IS THE DESTINATION." It is a wonderful feeling.
Evening Meditation Every evening, the Siri Singh Sahib Harbhajan Singh Khalsa Yogi teaches at our Anandpur Sahib Yatra camp. For the most part, the Siri Singh Sahib speaks about the legacy and history of Khalsa. He also teaches us a short set of meditations to energize and center ourselves. Everyone, including our guests, participated in the meditations and chanting.
Dhadhi Kirtanees We are visited by a Dhadhi Kirtan
jetha who play and sing the vars of Guru Gobind Singh. In case you do not know, the type
of musicians called Dhadhis were first employed by Guru Hargobind early in the
seventeenth century. As bards of the court, Guru Hargobind instructed them to sing heroic
folk ballads or vars. The vars tell about acts of valor and heroism and are
traditionally used to inspire groups of Sikh soldiers within the sangat.
Hear the Dhadhi Kirtan Jetha
A Dhadhi Kirtan jetha consists of two or three singers who play and sing while standing up. One member plays the sarangi, which is an ancient stringed instrument from the thirteenth century, while another plays the tiny-two sided finger drum called the dhadh. The third member may be the group leader, who explains the contents of each song. Though they are expected to sing vars of the Guru, they often sing their own poetic compositions, which are about the daring exploits of Sikh warriors and martyrs. This dhadhi kirtan jetha sang stories of how Guru Gobind Singh outsmarted the attack of an army, which had a giant elephant.
Sindhi Sikhs from Pakistan A large jetha of Pakistani Sikhs visited us tonight. They are part of a jetha of Sikhs who stayed behind in Pakistan after the 1947 Partition. We had a gatka and bhangra dance program together. They were some of the most enthusiastic dancers Ive ever seen. Later, their groups ragi jetha stepped up and began playing kirtan. I have never heard the shabds they played before but I was impressed by two details. The first was the fact that, their simple call-and-reply style of kirtan made it so very easy for me to sing along. I felt I was singing shabds I knew very well. The second detail that impressed me was the discipline of their group. When the kirtan began, each and every one in their group sat and most devotedly sang along. It was truly a blessing to be singing with such a strong sangat who was also very happy to have traveled here as a group.
The majority of our yatra stayed at our base camp in the evening and enjoyed kirtan. Several of our yatra jathas again played at evening kirtan programs. Heres a different excerpted journal entry from the musician Siri Ved Kaur Khalsa:
"Tonight we had another kirtan program at the main Pandal. Seva Kaur, Sat Kartar Kaur, Sat Kirn Kaur and Harbhajan Kaur were scheduled to play. SO MANY PEOPLE filled the Pandal again, as far as you could see there were people. I can hardly believe how huge the pandal is and how many people must be seated inside. Masses upon masses of souls. Seva Kaur and Sat Kartar Kaur played Raj Karega Khalsa with a great energy. Next on our schedule was Sat Kirn Kaur and Harbhajan Kaur, who moved into place behind the harmoniums. But just as they sat down to play one man stood up and said "Wahe Guru Ji Ka Khalsa! Wahe Guru Ji Ki Fateh!" and began to address the sangat.
I think the speaker may have wanted us to stop playing and to step down. The ragi of the next jetha motioned for us to leave the stage. I told the ragi that I thought we were supposed to play one more shabad. We had another shabad prepared, and we were scheduled to play for 30 minutes. By this time some other folks then motioned for us to leave. Not wanting to be a disturbance, I stood up and faced the Guru and bowed to leave. The other people in our group began to do the same. Just then an amazing thing happened. As soon as we got up to leave -- the crowd went wild! There was a big uproar as they called out "Ik hor shabd! Ik hor shabd! (One more shabd! One more shabd!)"
The man speaking, then realized that the sangat wanted us to stay and play (some had gone so far as to physically push the speaker). The speaker then called out "Bole So Nihal" to the sangat five times. Each and every call was enthusiastically answered by the huge sangat, and so with much joy and delight we all sat down again and concluded our program with the shabad Khalsa Mero Roop Hai Khaas. "
Wednesday, April 14th Evening On the evening of April 14th, Professor Manjit Singh, Jathedar of Sri Keshgarh Sahib and his staff came to our camp to honor Siri Singh Sahib Harbhajan Singh Khalsa Yogi and his wife Bhai Sahiba Bibi Inderjit Kaur, Dr. Ong Kar Singh, and the entire Yatra group with saropas. It was a comfortable, relaxed evening filled with songs by Guru Singh, Guru Ganesha Singh, Guru Das Singh, Sangeet Kaur, Black Krishna Kaur and many others. Professor Manjit Singh listening to 3HO songs at the yatra camp.
The famous Indian singer Hemlata (who sings in the soundtracks of many Indian movies) sang for us. She was very kind to upon request stand up and sing without her usual musicians. I know very little about her style of singing, but she seemed to be improvising -- almost in a jazzlike manner. She sang like a beautiful bird. Our yatra musicians accompanied her. After this we also had a very inspiring bhangra program and langar which everyone seemed to also enjoy.
Copyright © 1999Gurumustuk Singh Khalsa
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