Once a month, a Sikh Gurdwara in west London gives kids the lead! This special day was thought up by parents who wished for their little ones to play a bigger part in their sacred space.

The Gurdwara Khalsa Jatha in Holland Park, around since 1908, holds the title of the UK's oldest Sikh place of worship. According to the folks in charge, they want their youngsters to carry on the legacy of the temple, built with love and effort by their elders. It's like passing on the baton to the next generation. 

Pasta and chips

Navleen Kaur, the event organizer who attended the day with her kids, expressed the necessity for this different approach. She highlighted the challenge of everything being in Punjabi and being too lengthy.

According to Kaur, adjustments were made to connect better with the children. The goal is to create an open space where children can actively participate and share their thoughts on what should be done.

In Kaur's view, the older generation deserves credit for establishing Gurdwaras and providing space. However, she emphasized that learning methods have evolved. The younger generation prefers a more interactive approach, where they can engage, ask questions, and not simply follow instructions.

The day at the Gurdwara was made extra kid-friendly in various ways. The devotional songs, known as kirtan, were made shorter to keep the children engaged and prevent boredom. To ensure everyone can understand, the Punjabi language was either replaced with English or translated.

Even the Gurdwara food, called Langar, gets a kid-friendly makeover. In addition to the usual Indian dishes, pasta and chips were offered, and dads were brought in to do the cooking. Parents were warmly welcomed to join in the fun too. They were encouraged to participate by guiding the children in singing and helping with face painting. It was a day at the Gurdwara that everyone can enjoy together!

'Sense of fun'

Sanjiv Mohan Singh Ahluwalia, bringing along his four-year-old, shared that he finds the children taking over quite delightful. He expressed that religious places often have a serious atmosphere, but when kids bring in their liveliness and joy, it adds a wonderful touch. 

Reflecting on the event, a spokesperson commented on the involvement of children, stating that the presence of children injects life and fun into what can sometimes be a formal religious setting. It's truly heartwarming to witness. One of the kids playing a special role in the ceremony was 12-year-old Anahat Kalra, who took the lead in some devotional singing, adding an extra layer of charm to the occasion.

He said: "I did Gobinday Mukunday and I did the hand actions with it to get the younger children to join in as well. I think the arts and crafts help today as well - all children want their faces painted so it's fun for them."

When children are involved in religious ceremonies, it can add a special touch that makes the experience more meaningful for everyone.By making small changes, such as those made by the Gurdwara Khalsa Jatha, religious places can become more welcoming and engaging for all ages.

*Based on an article by Catrin Nye, published in BBC news on 7th November 2011


Add a Comment