Sikh Children organise Vasakhi Programme in Bradford Gurdwara: raise £215 for Sikhnet

To be honest it was very refreshing....

Leaders of the future - Sikh Children organise Vasakhi Programme in Bradford Gurdwara and raise £215 for Sikhnet

On the evening of Vasakhi, I went along to my local Gurdwara, wondering what would be in store. Had the Gurdwara invited a top ragi from India, or a kathavachak, or would it be a dhadhi jatha like last year? Every year it seems that many Gurdwaras do their utmost to put on a good programme for the Sangat to try and inspire them to think about the events of Vasakhi 1699.

When I got to the Gurdwara with my wife and son the hall was packed, but no-one was on the stage. Instead, a group of children were performing simran facing Guru Granth Sahib Ji. I thought the children must be the warm up act before the main ragis came on the stage. But no, once these children had finished their simran, a group of other children started to do Rehras Sahib.

After Rehras, there was more kirtan from the children, and talks on the meaning of the Khanda, the lives of the ten Gurus and the meaning of the Anand Sahib. Young Sikhs, Arjan Singh and Sukhwinder Kaur introduced each event.

I was amazed - the Gurdwara committee appeared to have given the responsibility of organising and running the whole Vasakhi programme to the children and the whole programme was also broadcast on the local Sikh radio station, Sabrang radio. To be honest it was very refreshing. Each child had obviously put a lot of work into their shabad or presentation, and looked like they really wanted to take part in this Vasakhi celebration. And just to make sure that everyone felt included, the Chaur Sahib sewa was done by the youngest children who changed every 10 minutes to make sure that everyone had a turn.

A collage of the activities by the children

Following Anand Sahib 16 year old Jeevan Singh did Ardaas, and 17 year old Kiranjit Kaur read the Hukamnama of the day in perfect Punjabi. Kulvinder Singh read the Barah Maha, and the whole programme was concluded by possibly the most moving sight of all - Kiranjit Kaur reading Kirtan Sohila, performing Ardaas and Sukhassan, and then finally walking with Guru Granth Sahib Ji on her head to the Sach Khand. ."Amazing".

I had to find out more. It appears that the education secretaries, S. Sukhdev Singh and S. Rajinder Singh had decided to give the children the responsibility to run this year's programme, and had guided them on how to do so.

By treating the children with love, respect and trust and by giving them an opportunity, they demonstrated the true Sikhi Spirit that many adults can learn from. They also invited children from other Gurdwaras to take part - in the true spirit of Ekta. The children really showed confidence in planning and conducting the evening Divan to celebrate Vasakhi. The whole Sangat loved the event and people were asking us when the next children's programme would be.

A proud father, whose son, 16 year old Arjan Singh took on the role of secretary for the night, and whose daughter Kiranjit Kaur read the Hukamnama really appreciated the fact that the Gurdwara had given children the opportunity to run a Divan.

It appears, great foresight was shown by the Committee of the Ramgarhia Gurdwara, Bradford in taking a big risk in the celebration of Vasakhi. The Gurdwara Committee were approached by the Panjabi school staff to allow a group of their students aged 14 to 17 to have the honourable duty, to plan and conduct the Darbar Sahib programme, for one of the most important events of the year. Basically the Committee were being asked to allow young children to replace the usual established jathas to do such a special programme, surprisingly they said yes!

Kiranjit Kaur, who carried out the main Hukamnama and Sukhassan stated: "With Guru Ji's kirpa the event was a great success, I have never received so many appreciative comments before! It was really nice to know that our weeks of hard work of planning and preparation were appreciated. On my part I really appreciated the support given to me by my colleagues - Jeevan Singh (16), Arjan Singh (16), Amrit Kaur (14), Tarandeep Kaur (16) Sukhwinder Kaur (16) and Sukhveer Singh (16), this was our A Team." During the programme, the children explained that they had all been inspired by SikhNet, and showed this video to the sangat:

They explained how they had researched all their shabads and sakhis from Sikhnet and asked the Sangat to donate to help Sikhnet continue the work it is doing. In total on the night, the Sangat raised £215 for Sikhnet. At the end of the programme one of the tutors gave free comics about the life of Guru Gobind Singh Ji to all the children, and I saw many children busy reading these in the Langar hall afterwards, where I also noticed Vasakhi cards and a collage on display.

For these young Sikhs it was the fact that they had been given the responsibility to run a Divan, and not just any Divan, but the main Vasakhi Divan, which had inspired them, and made them all feel like leaders. I learnt a good lesson on Vasakhi, one which relates to the "five beloved ones" who came forward on that day in 1699 - it's not who you are, but how inspired you are that counts.

Jasjit Singh
Doctoral Researcher,
Department of Theology and Religious Studies,
University of Leeds, LS2 9JT
Email: [email protected],


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