Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Destination: Rasa

The samelan crew packed their bags again and this time headed for Rasa – a little village tucked away 1-1.5 hours away from KL. We were serving not only Rasa, but some other nearby villages like Kalumpang, Kuala Kubu Baru, Tanjung Malim, and of course, the ultimate village, Ulu Yam (where our family hails from :p)!
I was sorry to have missed the first day but even just being there on the Sunday was a touching experience. This camp was really special; the kids here have little or no exposure and hence we found our hands full of innocent and perfectly trusting children – a nice relief from the demons of Kuala Lumpur! They were just waiting for us to teach them and guide them and play with them and love them – their manner was truly heartwarming.

We travelled through all sorts of challenges to get there, just in time for...

... registration on Saturday morning

Nishaan Sahib Selami

Opening Hukumnama

Ice breakers
Hari Singh had a session with the parents while we were pulling our hair with the kids lols :)

We were surprised to learn that many of the kids had never heard of/ seen a baana before, so Manpreet had to use what little resources she had at hand to give the children a rough idea so that they could carry on with the Baana Runway competition. Later I received a call asking me to put together some photos of today’s Sikhs in baana to show the kids that they are not just a thing of our past but also the pride of our present.

Our little soldiers all riled up for the Baana Runway competition

The warm sanggat of Rasa and the neighbouring areas – they welcomed us with open hearts and kept our tummies filled!

Jag guiding a participant to lead the prayer of thanks before langgar

As our crowd was small, everyone sat in a circle in the langgar and ate together. We sevadars enjoyed going round making sure the kids were fed before sitting in our own little circle to have our meal/quick meeting before the next activity.

Sukhsharan with one group of kids…

… while Gurreet and Amit discussed Prashaad with another group…

… and Phobinder and Narin guided the rest through the concept of langgar.

The Rasa Gurdwara was quite overwhelmed by this sudden landing of 'foreign' sanggat, and we had to squeeze ourselves into any space we could find for sleeping arrangements. Of course one could argue what better resting place can there be than the feet of the Guru :)

Samelans are never just about the kids – I also look forward to them as it gives our sanggat a chance to get together and have a few laughs – something that is becoming rare as our group is slowly leaving uni and walking into the working world. This is a good chance as any for us to bum around and catch up!

Gurreet helping a participant with the ardaas

We scheduled in a light yoga session – I was a little iffy at first as I wasn’t sure how the local sanggat would react to the whole ‘yoga’ part – some communities in Malaysia have very conservative/ orthodox/ whatever-you-want-to-call-it ideas about yoga and Sikhi. It went well though; I explained the various exercises by drawing from examples in the animal world so it probably came off more as exercise with some meditation rather than something revolutionary, and we all enjoyed a good stretch!


Amit and Esha enacting a typical scene in our Gurdwaras – two women doing seva and gossiping about the whole wide world. We were trying to show the kids what the reality is, and more importantly, how we can deal with it, what prayers we can say and how to heal the situation. Some of the other scenes we enacted were drug addiction, domestic fighting, and anger – situations that they are sure to face.

Aww those sweet kids :)

As we were leaving, we went round to thank the sanggat one more time for their support, for hosting us and taking care of all the logistics at their end.

And this is one of the strangest experiences I’ve ever had at any camp – women were cornering us one by one to ask for advice on how to raise their kids to be good Sikhs, what they can do at home, how to encourage their children, etc etc etc. There was us, in our twenties, guiding 30 to 40 year old women on motherhood! Needless to say, we were all unqualified to offer any advice, but they were so insistent and sincere in their desire to know I couldn’t just walk away without trying to help. I also talked to them about our annual samelan in December and invited them to come – it would be the perfect avenue to expose their kids to other Sikh children and also for the mothers to meet other mothers and gain guidance from them.

While I was there I found out that this was the first time in the Gurdwara’s 100 year odd history that sanggat had come from KL to spend time with them, something that was difficult for me to digest. It made me realise that these are the areas we should be visiting to spread the love; these places that dot the map of Malaysia and we neglect, overlook and don’t bother with because they are too small, but ultimately that should be the purpose of our seva. And I hope that’s what we’re going to try now – Tav Prasaad - reaching out to the little corners.


Jasbir said...

that was beautiful

Balvinder Singh said...

Excellent work and congrats to all the selfless sewadaars and also to the beautiful people of Rasa. You have all made a difference to the lives of the Sikh families in this small town. I remember having visited this Gurdwara for a kirtan programme some 20 years ago and amazingly, the Gurdwara still looks the same. Keep up the good work Harkiren and friends. Guru Ang Sang Sahaai.

Hargobind Khalsa said...

whoa. loved the final 2 paragraphs. made me wish(again) that i was there. makes me hate this flying school even more. i can't believe they are virtually cut off from the KL sangat.

the samelan was a fantastic idea. great work. i'll be there for the next..