Friday, June 30, 2006

Compassion for poor and suffering

Young Sikh Girl raises money for Canadian Red Cross

Few children make a point of catching the latest edition of World Vision on television. For most kids, the dire circumstances of others their age living without food, water and shelter, and suffering the horrifying effects of AIDS, in the Third-World nations, don't register.

But Japnaam Kaur isn't like other children.

Since age four or five, she has asked her parents to choose channels that are playing World Vision when they sit down to watch TV.

And once the program ends, she always says the same thing: "I want to help them."

With the help of her parents, her school and other children in her neighbourhood, the seven-year-old set up a lemonade stand and recently raised $290 for the Canadian Red Cross.

"I wanted to raise money so that those children can have food, and so that not a lot of people will die from AIDS anymore," Japnaam said.

But she never imagined that her little lemonade stand, along with other stands some friends set up in support of Japnaam's efforts, would be such a hit.

"We sent notes home with kids at Lester B. Pearson school and St. Luke school, asking other people to help out," Japnaam said. "But I only thought we'd make about $50."

Mother Nature had other ideas. A hot, sunny Saturday recently enabled the children to collect boxes upon boxes full of coins.

"We charged 25 cents or a donation," Japnaam said. "One person liked the lemonade so much they had five cups."

It was a lesson for all the children who helped out that day-- as well as some adults.

"We are so proud of Japnaam," said her mother, Sukh. "This is something she's wanted to do for a long time - every summer she's become more and more determined."

Sukh also enjoyed watching her daughter learn what it takes to put a plan in motion.

"You could see every brain wave - like when she figured out that the more people she could get to help, the more money they would raise," Sukh said. "It was amazing to see her make that connection."

And when the sale was over and it was time to count the donations, Japnaam came up with a little routine.

"After she counted each coin she said thank you," Sukh said. "She realized that every little quarter made up such a big pot, and she was grateful for that."

Sukh explained that she and her husband have stressed to Japnaam how lucky she is to be in Canada.

Japnaam's father was a refugee from India 20 years ago, and witnessed the death of countless Sikhs in India.

"We haven't sheltered her from that," Sukh explained. "We've taught her to never turn a blind eye to others' pain."

And that's a lesson Japnaam thinks of every day.

"The people in Africa work a lot harder than we do and all they have is a small hut," she said. "We have big houses and they have nothing.

"I do a little prayer for them every night."

Thursday, June 29, 2006


The name of the Parm-Aatma “God” is proclaimed by Guru Nanak Dev ji as WAHEGURU. It is made up of three words –

Wahe – wonderful, magnificent, superb, astonishing, fantastic, brilliant, great, breathtaking etc. etc.

Gu – darkness, dusk, gloom, night, obscurity, absence of spiritual illumination i.e. spiritual ignorance

Ru – light, spiritual illumination, enlightenment

So altogether it means “Oh Wonderful God, you are the spiritual enlightener and dispeller of ignorance.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

ABC of Parenting

A is for accountability. Hold your children accountable for their behaviour.
B is for boundaries. Set specific limits and make clear what the repercussions will be if those limits are exceeded.
C is for consistence. Hold to the same principles and practices.
D is for discipline. Make the punishment fit the crime. Never discipline the anger.
E is for example. Children are in greater need of models than critics. Set a good example.
F is for forgiveness. Practice it and teach the importance of forgiving.
G is for giving. Teach the joy of giving, not only to family and friends, but to strangers in need.
H is for sense of humour. Keep your sense of humour. Promote laughter with your children.
I is for imagination. Be creative and play with your children. Make up stories of songs when you read and sing with them.
J is for joy. Let your kids know that they are a joy to be with.
K is for knowing. Know your children’s friends and their parents as well as their teachers.
L is for listening. Listen to your children. It will teach them how to listen to others, and their thoughts will give you insights.
M is for morals. Be sure your own standard of conduct is sound.
N is for no. Use it and mean it.
O is for outdoors. Provide as much outdoor activity as possible. Teach respect for nature.
P is for pressure. Reduce the pressure on your children but insist they maintain high standards.
Q is for questions. Pay close attention to their questions and give simple answers unless they demand more.
R is for respect. Show respect, teach respect and earn respect.
S is for source of strength. Share your own faith or beliefs with your children. Faith will be their port in the storms of life later.
T is for togetherness. Have special designated times to be together as a family-but know when to let go too.
U is for uniqueness. Understand the uniqueness of each child and let that child be who he or she is.
V is for voice. Tone of voice can convey more to a child than the words spoken.
W is for words. Keep your word. Promises broken destroy trust.
X is for eXamine. Examine constantly and be aware.
Y is for you. Take care of yourself mentally, physically and spiritually. A happy parent helps a child to be happy.
Z is for zowie! Who would have thought they would
grow up so quickly?

Meeting the beloved against all odds

fareedhaa galeeeae chikarr dhoor ghar naal piaarae naehu ||
chalaa th bhijai ka(n)balee rehaa(n) th thuttai naehu ||24||
bhijo sijo ka(n)balee aleh varaso maehu ||
jaae milaa thinaa sajanaa thutto naahee naehu ||25||

Fareed, the path is muddy, and the house of my Beloved is so far away.
If I go out, my blanket will get soaked, but if I remain at home, then my heart will be broken. ||24||
My blanket is soaked, drenched with the downpour of the Lord's Rain.
I am going out to meet my Friend, so that my heart will not be broken. ||25||

Bhai Sahib was reciting this shabad when I entered the Darbar this weekend. Freed Ji’s shabads have always touched my heart. Once I began to read on Freed Ji’s life and could not continue as after each line my eyes welled up with tears.

I always thought that the ‘muddy path’ that Freed ji is referring to is the ‘Maya’ in the world, that keeps us from remembering God; but it is much deeper than that. It is the mud in our ears to listen to our own praise and Ninda of others. It is the mud in our eyes to admire beauty of other’s spouse. It is the mud of greed, lust and ego in our minds/hearts. It is the mud of ‘AnRas’ in our toungue. Freed Ji says that this muddy paath becomes even more powerful if I try to fight it just like a man caught up in Daldal, when he tries to get out, goes under it more. So what should one do then? How do one reaches the beloved Lord? Then Freed Ji answers to the question in his next verse; the only way to clear the path and rising above the five chor is do uddam. Uddam of remembering Him who is always Ang Sang; who is creator of ‘muddy path’ He, himself removes that mud from the indriyaan and frees one to meet with the Lord.

Bhai Sahib further explained on the ‘Uddam’. Uddam to wake up in Amrit Vela, Uddam to come in the Saadh Sangat, uddam to recite and sing Gurbani. These are all ‘Karam’ we all do with the hope and desire to meet with the Lord and these Karam give birth to ‘Dharam’. Dharam is what helps us on the journey of spirituality & hence seeking God.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Giving – an expression of love or ego?

Giving is our way of getting by in the world. Many of us think –“if I give; the others will like me. Better yet, they may even come to need me. Then I won't be so alone in the world.” Giving becomes a kind of haggle to belong; a proffer for love, rather than an expression of it. This kind of giving does not allow for egoism of any kind, and yet it is excessively egotistic.
Selfishness is vigorous when one knows one’s limits, and sets those limits; meaning prioritizing self-care over caring for others. It insists that you express your feelings, even when it is inconvenient to others. It includes the ability to rest when tired, and to ask for what you want and need, when you want and need it. It is the healthy expression of power. By doing so, we identify the course we take, making it much easier for the blessings of life to come to us.

Friday, June 16, 2006

A Prayer for the Children…

(our school district prayer)

We pray for the children
who put chocolate fingers everywhere,
who like to be tickled,
who stomp in puddles and ruin their new pants,
who sneak Popsicles before supper,
who erase holes in math workbooks,
who can never find their shoes.

And we pray for those
who stare at photographers from behind barbed wire,
who’ve never squeaked across the floor in new sneakers,
who never had crayons to count,
who are born in places we wouldn’t be caught dead,
who never go to the circus,
who live in an X-rated world.

We pray for children
who bring us sticky kisses and fistfuls of dandelions,
who sleep with the dog and bury goldfish,
who give hugs in a hurry and forget their lunch money,
who cover themselves with Band-Aids and sing off-key,
who squeeze toothpaste all over the sink,
who slurp their soup.

And we pray for those
who never get dessert,
who watch their parents watch them die,
who have no safe blanket to drag behind,
who can’t find any bread to steal,
who don’t have any rooms to clean up,
whose pictures aren’t on anybody’s dresser,
whose monsters are real.

We pray for children
who spend all their allowance before Tuesday,
who throw tantrums in the grocery store and pick at their food,
who like ghost stories, who shove dirty clothes under the bed,
who never rinse out the tub,
who get visits from the tooth fairy,
who don't like to be kissed in front of the school,
who squirm in church and scream in the phone,
whose tears we sometimes laugh at and
whose smiles can make us cry.

And we pray for those
whose nightmares come in the daytime,
who will eat anything,
who aren't spoiled by anybody,
who go to bed hungry and cry themselves to sleep,
who live and move, but have no being.

We pray for children who want to be carried,
and for those who must.
For those we never give up on,
and for those who never get a chance.
For those we smother with our love,
and for those who will grab the hand of
anybody kind enough to offer.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Journey back to HOME!

Most of the problems that today’s youth in western countries facing is due to the fact that their moms had very little time to spend with them. Parents of these teenagers; who are now in their 40’s & 50’s; migrated to these countries with golden dreams in their hearts but with absolutely nothing in their hands except their hard-earned professional degrees. They put them to good use by getting into professions. But how about the most noble profession called ‘mothering’. Most of the Sikh mothers, I know of, are working mothers. As much as they want to, they can’t afford to leave their jobs, their children spend 40-50 hours a week in child-care or with baby-sitters, who can’t replace a mother’s role in a child’s life. The cost of quitting is probably too high for those who are first generation abroad and do not want to be financial burden on their children in their old age. More than often, guilt - that insidious snake - likes to slither up the backs of such moms who want to be home full-time, but who are still unable to make that move.

I think, we, moms, should cut ourselves some slack. Sure, becoming a full-time, at-home mom is a worthy and admirable goal. Rare are the women who decide today that they want to be home, and tomorrow find themselves there. But for many women who want to achieve that goal, it definitely takes planning; in other words ‘time’. There are bills to be paid before it can actually happen. Committing financial suicide by quitting a job without first planning for the transition helps no one, including the child.

So what can a mom do in the meantime? You do the very best you can with the situation you're in. I would like to urge moms to honor their own personal calling too while aspiring to be their ‘ kid’s mom’. Even though every mother yearns for more time with her children, not every woman is comfortable with the idea of being a full-time, at-home parent. For many, holding a part-time position offers them a perfect balance of work and family. And when mom's commitment to work is cut in half like that, and she uses her expanded time to nurture her children, it's amazing how much peace can enter that household. If finances are not the problem; but your ‘sense of security’ is or ‘fear of unknown’ is – take ‘leave of absence’ from work and enjoy the paradise at home for some time before you turn that ‘letter of resignation’ in. If circumstances won't allow you to quit work all at once, aim at going part-time. Does even going half-time sound like impossibility? Keep looking at that schedule. Where can you cut? Can you work four days instead of five? Thirty hours instead of forty? How about a straight forty-hour week, instead of regularly sticking around for overtime?

Think about a child's reaction if his/her parent was able to shear even five hours a week off their work schedule, then spend that entire five hours with him/her. Most kids would be bouncing on the beds and tumbling across the floor with joy!

So as you work toward your goal of spending more time with your family, don't let that guilty snake strangle you into depression, thinking about lost years. Instead, focus on the time that lies ahead, and enjoy the small steps in your journey HOME!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

A Sikh Freshman’s ‘must read’ for this Summer

It was a wonderful Saturday at IGS School just before we closed for summer; while children spent decorating pieces of quilt with their thoughts and ideas on “Why am I proud to be a Sikh?”; but it was not so pleasant for a Sikh mother who was all worried about her 14 year old son, who insisted that he wanted to wear ear rings along with heavy duty ‘kara’. My heart goes out to that mom as well as her not-so-young kid; it's not easy being 14 no matter where you live, or who your parents are! It is even more challenging when you are the ambassador of Sikh faith. Being 14 is a difficult transition from being a ‘boy’ to becoming a man; it is the time when kids feel that they must "fit in" with the crowd. Wearing earrings is a recent trend. In early sixties, Americans believed that it was practice of backward and uncultured people; but fashion has taken its toll; now all women; young or old, are seen wearing earrings. The size and design of the rings have no limits. The earrings have grown long enough to touch the shoulders and they swing around when the head is suddenly moved to left or right. Such fashions come and go to be replaced by new ones.

However it is healthier for the mind and convenient for the body to live and dress simply and gracefully. Those who avoid such craze enjoy greater and everlasting peace of mind and keep themselves free from self-inflicted punishment. It also strengthens their mind to think independently and live as leaders among their peers.

Khalsa is distinct from the world. As Sikhs, we must understand that our path is very different from the rest of the world, we must strive to attain the ultimate goal of human life i.e. merger with the Parm-Atma. This does not come without becoming comatose to the world. If we opt instead to please the peers around, then we become more absorbed into the world and further away from God. Sikhi does not fit in nicely to what we want.

According to the Sikh Reht Maryada, there is no objection to wearing any kind of jewelry by an Amritdhari person provided one does not have to pierce his/her ear or nose to wear it. During the olden days, the wearing of earrings and nose rings indicated slavery. The owners used them to identify their slaves. This does not fit in the Khalsa culture. We, the Khalsa, enjoy full freedom and are not slaves of any person or even of any god; hence it is degrading to wear earrings.

The Five Ks imply self-consciousness and self control which arises from a sense of duty to others. It is a discipline which calls for constant training in loyalty and a test of the authenticity of man's professing the faith. One needs loyalty in every activity of life, for attaining whatever ideal one sets to oneself. Now, loyalty to a particular purpose is an asset; but loyalty as a habit of mind is a much nobler virtue. To be noble parent is very good; but to be a loyal follower is infinitely nobler. Since the aim of the Sikh religion was to mould human beings ("sachahu orai sabh ko upar sach aachaar." Truth is higher than everything; but higher still is truthful living. - Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji”); it certainly had to inculcate in its adherents a habit of loyalty that could be applied in all spheres of life.

So the key to survive peer pressure is “BE YOURSELF I know everyone talks about it, but what does it mean? It means that you ‘know yourself’..know where you stand on drugs, alcohol etc. (you'll probably be pressured to experiment more in high school) and above all where you stand as a Sikh as far as your faith is concerned. If you don't think you know yourself, take this summer to find out. Read Sikh History!

Army of Shahid Singhs in 1984

source: by balpreet singh

After the assassination of Indra Gandhi on October 31, 1984, Sikhs were butchered across India.

I heard this true story about a Sikh couple living in an isolated village outside of Punjab. The couple was young and were amritdhari. The Singhni wore a dastaar and they had a young child.

The Sikh couple had an isolated farmhouse in a Hindu dominated area. When news of the assassination reached the area, and it was found out that Sikhs were being killed, some local thugs also decided it was the perfect chance to loot the farmhouse.

The Singh found out about these plans from some well wishers and told his wife that they had very little time and an attack was coming. The Singh said that they should leave their farm and escape to save their lives. The Singhnee however reminded him that they had done Parkash of Sri Guru Granth Sahib on the top floor of the house and how could they run away from Guru Sahib? The Singh again repeated that there was an attack coming and said that their young child would be killed. Singhnee jee insisted again that it would be wrong to run away from Guru Sahib and let the mob disrespect Guru Sahib's saroop.

The Singh in frustration then said, "Once they kill us, they will disrespect the saroop anyways so what is the point in staying? We can't save the saroop if we're dead. The best we can do is save ourselves now. There is no benefit in staying! You are being stubborn and stupid."

The Singhnee replied that while she had breath in her body, she would not abandon Guru Sahib, even to save her life and while she was alive, no one could dare do any disrespect.

With the mob now on its way, the Singh in frustration told his Singhnee that she could do what she wanted but he was leaving with their son. He then took the infant and escaped.

Singhnee jee went to Guru Sahib's room, and did ardaas. She asked Guru Sahib for protection and for the courage to, if need be, become Shahid in this seva. She then took a kirpan and waited.

When Singhnee jee saw the mob arrive, yelling and carrying weapons, ready to attack the house. She came down and stood at the door holding her unsheathed Sri Sahib. All of a sudden, the thugs in the mob began to turn around and run away, looking back in terror and then continuing to run. Singhnee jee was confused but amazed at Guru Sahib's kirpa as the mob retreated and did not return.

Some days later, the Singh came back to the village to check on the fate of his wife and their property. He fully expected that his wife would be assaulted and killed and their home looted. As he was nervously walking to his home, a Hindu acquaintence stopped him and asked, "Singh, where did you gather all those Nihangs from so quickly that day???!"

The Singh was confused and asked, "What do you mean?"

The Hindu replied, "That day, when the mob went to attack your house, your wife came and stood in the door and she was surrounded by so many massive Nihangs who were so tall and carrying all kinds of weapons. Where did you gather all of them from so quickly?"

The Singh realised that Shahid Singhs had themselves come and protected Guru Sahib's saroop and his Singhnee's courage had been rewarded. He went home and begged for forgivness from his Singhnee and told her about how all the villagers were talking about the army of Nihangs that had protected their house.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Loving Your Children While Leaning On Waheguru!

One cold Thursday afternoon, I rushed in the Child Care Centre after doing two hours of errands holding ~3 month old baby Harjap to pick up my two-year-old Sukhmani.

"Your daughter pulled hair of one of the children," the teacher said, and gave me-and my little toddler-a disapproving stare, as if somehow perhaps I had something to do with this bad behavior, and that it would surely lead to a life of crime.

"I am so sorry," I said, taking Sukhmani's little hand and gathering her diaper bag and jacket to leave. I felt terrible about her pulling that child's hair, but they'd already left so I couldn't apologize to his mom.

This was my middle child. She was usually so good. Such a happy toddler that since she was born people in grocery stores often stopped us to say what a good baby she was! Neighbors were warmed by her smile.

While this wasn't the only time one of my children exhibited less- than-perfect behavior, it did teach me a good lesson (one which I had numerous other opportunities to practice as my three kids progressed through childhood and I witnessed some occasionally rough waters of adolescence of my nieces and nephews)-never be too smug. Why? Because we all make mistakes. Because Waheguru loves a humble heart. And because the truth is, we never know what our precious little child or teenager is going to do next. While we can take our kids to Gurdwara and do everything possible, we can't always keep our teen from rebelling or making a failing grade or bad decision. While we can teach good manners and encourage sharing and kindness, we can't control their behavior or make them do the right thing.

Now in the case of my toddler's pulling hair blunder, I don't know what sparked it. But I was rehearsing possible reasons as I stumbled out that childcare door to my car, like--it's her first time at this childcare; she didn't know any of the kids; maybe got tired of being pushed around by the bigger kids since she's quiet and mild-mannered. She had communication problem as she could only speak Punjabi at that time. However, my usually cooperative, good-natured Sukhmani might have just been having a bad day. Of course, I scolded her and explained she wasn't to pull hair of anyone, and fortunately it was an isolated case, not the beginning of a pattern of hostile behavior!

But the truth is, as moms we must never be too smug. Webster's Dictionary defines "smug" as highly self-satisfied, complacent, and scrupulously correct.

How do you know you've gotten smug about your mothering? Here are some tell-tale clues:
-Critical thoughts creep into your mind when you see other less- than-perfect kids. Another mom's kids at the grocery store are begging for something, wailing, making a scene, she's embarrassed and dropping things and finally yells at the children and you think, "That'll never happen to me. My kids would never do that."

-There's no room for improvement, new ideas or advice from someone else. For example, if you think you've got the corner on great parenting because you home school (or have chosen private schooling) and feel everybody else is wrong who has their kids in public schools and think that if only they'd do it like you do all the problems in our country would be solved;

-if you have followed some parenting formula that worked for you and don't value other parenting styles; if you change the subject or tune out if your older mother-in-law starts sharing her experience with you-you may be becoming a little smug.

I have learnt that when we lose our ability to learn from other’s experience, we are missing out on some wisdom Waheguru may have for us that we are going to need on the journey ahead.

If you feel some smugness has crept into your attitude or if you want to avoid it, here are some tips:
Walk in humility and gratefulness, no matter how well your kids behave, how high their grades are, or how fast their spiritual growth is progressing. And besides, if our kids are doing great at the moment (or turn out great in the end) it's more about Waheguru's grace than our expert parenting skills. Thank Him!

Value and respect other ways of mothering, schooling, and operating as a family-especially if it's different than your way of doing things.

Be compassionate instead of judgmental. Do an ardaas for that mom in the grocery store whose kids are going ballistic. Instead of judging the broken-hearted mother whose teen is more interested in partying and alcohol than youth group, put an arm around her and pray with her for her son or daughter.

Avoid "if-then" thinking. If I raise my children according to Guru's teachings, if I always take them to Gurdwara, don't allow them to (you name it), if I require them to go to Sikh camp every summer, then they will turn out exactly the way I planned them to turn out. I hope they turn out wonderfully well, but all our kids have free choice and "if-then" thinking can set you up for disappointment.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Sewing: A lost dream

Lying at the bottom of my chest of drawers, hidden away from inquisitive husband and kids who just wouldn't understand, is a Kachhehra. Let me be truthful and rephrase that. There are pieces of a white cotton cloth.
These various pieces look especially impressive, because I cut them out using a pair of those zig-zaggedly scissors that make you look like you know what you're doing. Unfortunately, my sewing expertise sputtered out soon after, as I started trying to decipher the inscrutable pattern directions; given by mom-in-law.
Before I could intersect with the interfacing, I found I was unable to salvage the selvage. Spools spun off the top of the machine, needles broke, and the only thing I wanted to know about naps was when I could take one.
Are you lost? Me, too.
So I stuffed my $50 worth of material, laces and collection of my shiny buttons in that bottom drawer and headed for Wal-Mart to repalce my new love of sewing with old love of shopping. That was several years ago. Since I don't have any more time to nurture my hobbies, I guess I've missed my window of opportunity. But I just can't seem to make myself toss that pile of ‘precious’ piecework.
When I first got married 13 years ago, I decided it was my duty to do everything from scratch. This is a ridiculous concept, of course. I don't remember walking into my first job and demanding a typwriter instead of a computer. So why did I think I had to sew my own clothes, make ‘paneer’ at home and cross stitch the bedsheets?
Don't worry that you'll slide off the Singhni’s Homemaker scale if you attempt the same activities, with disastrous results. Decide on a few new tasks you'd like to master, not because of some perfect mother mental image, but because you really want to learn this particular skill and you have an affinity for it.
It's not time for a crash course in Home Economics 101. Leave fretting over which detergent gets whites the brightest to those fictional ladies on TV. The ‘love you have for your children’ is your most important tool in raising them.
As I finger the zigzagged pieces of my unfinished kachhehra, I know I'm not really looking at failure. A lot of affection went into this little trial, even if the project didn't turn out exactly as planned.
As I start to put it in the bag for Amrit, good friend of mine, who does stitching for living, then inspiration strikes. I've got it! I'll save it for my daughter, who is almost 10… surely she will have figured out faster than me.
Nah. Showing some self-control, I wrap up the pattern and pieces to give to Amrit. Let's see how many other mothers are gifted in that area. Meanwhile, I'm going to go, check on my daughter’s Math home work…..that's something I'm good at!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Thought for the Day!

To the keepers of children:

"Remember you are awakening your child's divinity, not creating it. She has come to you as gift from God and is already very connected to God. You need not impose your ideas as much as nurture her relationship with God"

Monday, June 05, 2006

Sikhi Sidak

After Gangu Brahman, informed the officials at Morinda, of Mata Gujri Ji and Chhote Sahibjaade’s presence in his house, in hope of being rewarded by the government; we all know of the arrest of Sahibjaade; sweet little talk by Wazir Khan, offering them riches and good positions when they grew up; all they were required to do was to become Musalman. The kids knew the difference between Islam and Sikhism, and like other Sikh children knew the history of their ancestors, who had sacrificed their lives, sticking to their own faith. They stubbornly refused, not bowing even under threats of death. Failing to persuade or startle them, aggravated and exasperated Wazir Khan ordered that they be put to death.

Nawab Sher Muhammad Khan of Malerkotla, who had accompanied Wazir Khan from Chamkaur, interceded that the children were innocent, their lives be spared. Wazir Khan, slightly mellowed, agreed to give them one more day to think over, and talk to their grandmother.

Instead of asking, they must have told their grandmother what answer they had given to the options placed before them. Even if asked, despite all the love for her grandsons whom she had brought up, since the death of their mother five years back, she, whose husband Guru Tegh Bahadur had voluntarily given his head, for sake of freedom to follow one’s own faith, could give no other advice except that they stay steadfast and not give up the true faith of their forefathers.

Yogi allah yaar khan wrote about the Shaheedi of Chhote Sahibjaade. Mentioning the third day in the Nawab's court; he writes, when constables came to Mata Gujri ji in the morning and announced that Sahibjaade came back for two days but today they are not going to come back, so go ahead, ‘do’ and ‘say’ whatever you want; to your grandsons one last time. Mata Gujri ji said –

“Oh mere laal ke laalo, aayo tumeh kangha toh kara doon
Sir pe sundar pagri saja ke, usme kalgi to lagaa doon
Tumeh jaana hai laarhi maut ko vihaane
Aao tumeh dulha to bana doon”

Such was the ‘Sikhi Sidak’ of Great Khalsa Mother; Mata Gujri Ji; who at such an old age, in spite of being hungry, thirsty, cold in the ‘Thanda Burj’ for three days, did not forget to do Kangha in sahibjaade’s kes. This was the most amazing, glorious, sad and defining moment in the history of Sikhs. We still have such amazing singhniyaan amongst us who build their children’s character by sharing such saakhies of strength and valor with their children; who transform the ‘moh-mamta’ into Guru-Piyaar.

But, where is the ‘Sikhi Sidak’ in those sikh mothers who use lame excuses like “I do not have time to do his hair in the morning before going to school”; “He is going to cut his kesh anyway when he grows up; then why should I bother?”. It is so painful to hear the mothers from Sikh families talking like that? How can they forget the Sikh mothers in the jail of Meer Mannu? How can they forget Mata Gujri ji? How can they forget that ‘death’ is inevitable not ‘cutting hair’? If she is so sure of his cutting hair at later stage, why she does not just kill him because he is going to die ‘later’ for sure?

Friday, June 02, 2006

Before we say 'YES'

Children often get invitations to B'day parties that include 'sleepover'. It was easy when they were young; we simply said "they are not ready yet"; but now they are 'begging' to be with friends; friends are pleading to let them be with them for one fun night. The question about 'sleepover' these days is not so much whether your child is ready, but are you and your entire family ready to deal with the consequences if you have misjudged the character of the stayover house parents. The "nicest" people can do the most terrible things - is a minor child able to extricate themselves from a damaging situation? Will they be able to tell you what has happened? You have to 100% know and trust the caregivers - and even then it's a risk.

What do other Sikh parents think about it? I mean how do you know if it is okay to enturst someone with your child, who you never talk more than saying 'hi' in the parking lot of the school only? Just wondering and once again doubting my parenting skills......

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Rise of Khalsa

Yesterday; this DVD arrived in mail; just in time, when children were complaining about their favorite after-school program not being relayed on TV ‘again’. As I flashed the package in air and announced that I have something better than that, it did not bring any smile back, though they had watched ‘Sahibzadey : A Saga of Valor & Sacrificethe first ever animated movie on Sikh history; by Vismaad, last year. In my disappointment I fixed the snacks and milk for them & quietly put the DVD on, pretending to be watching alone. That did the trick!...and they were practically glued to it till the end.

Thanks to Annual Sikh Youth Symposium competitions by Sri Hemkunt Foundation, Inc. that educated them last year on ‘Rise of misls’. Mughal ruler Aurangzeb died in 1707 AD. With that began the downfall of Mughal Empire. Aurangzeb’s son Bahadur Shah became the Emperor. On his way to negotiate peace with the Emperor; Sri Guru Gobind Singh ji stopped at Nanded to meet with Madho Das Bairagi. Guru ji sat on his cot that made Madho Das very angry. He tried all his incantations; but nothing worked on Guru ji. After hot exchange of words; Guruji told him the purpose of his visit. Guru ji said “I came here to make you my disciple”. Madho Das said “I will be pleased my Lord, From now I will be your Banda”. Madho das fell on Guru ji’s feet. Guru ji blessed him with ‘Amrit di daat’ and gave him name Gurbax Singh. But he was popularly known as Banda Singh Bahadur.

In 1708 AD, Governer of Sirhind; Wazir Khan hired two pathans who made an attempt on the life of Guru ji. One of them was dispatched by Guruji as soon as he stabbed Guru ji near chest & the other one was killed by the Sikhs. When Banda Singh Bahadur heard the news; he begged Guru ji to allow him to proceed to Punjab to pull down the tyrannical rulers from their seats and give them punishment for their deeds. Guruji also realized that it was time to ply the sword because all the peaceful means have been failed. Banda was appointed commander of the Khalsa and before sending him Guru ji gave him five arrows from his own quiver as pledge and token of victory. A Nishan Sahib and Nagara was also bestowed on him as emblems of temporal authority. A council of Panj Piyare and about 20 other singhs accompanied him. Singhs all over the country joined him in his mission of war against tyrannies and oppressions of his time. He punished the cold-blooded murderers of Chotte Sahibjaade Zorawar singh and Fateh Singh.

Banda Singh Bahadur had many victories till 1712 AD. He was finally besieged at Gurdaspur for 8 months. A complete blockade of food caused many warriors to die. Remaining Sikhs were starved to surrender. Banda Singh Bahadur was arrested with 200 companions. He was tortured and martyred in Delhi. His young son was killed in front of his eyes; but he died a martye’s death with full faith in the will of God.

After the martyrdom of Banda Singh Bahadur and consequent massacre; for few years the Khalsa disappeared into the hills. As the Mughal raaj started weakening with the invasion of Nadar Shah in 1738-39 they started coming down to the plains. During these turbulent years they were organizing themselves into groups under certain leaders. Each group came to be known as misl. There were 12 mislsSinghpuria, Ahluwalia, Sukkarchakia, Nishanwalia, Bhangi, Kanhaya, Nakkai, Dallewalia, Shaheed, Karora Singhia, Ramgarhia and Phulkian. Sarbat Khalsa provided the central organizing structure of the misls. Sarbat Khalsa issued Gurmatas to convey the decisions to misls.

“The Rise of Khalsa” has the distinction of being the first ever movie made on legendary Baba Banda Singh Bahadur . The movie takes us along on Sardar Banda Singh ji’s journey from his first meeting with Guru Gobind singh ji at Nanded to conquering of Sirhind. Guruji ordained Babaji to reach Punjab and reorganize the Khalsa forces to put an end to tyranny and injustice.

These animated movies by Vismaad are the most effective medium to teach History to children. I request each parent to get their copy TODAY from