Sunday, 2 November 2008
Friday, 3 October 2008
Members distributing CDs and other material. Check out the Mission logo - 'One God', inspired by Ek Oangkaar.
Kirtan on Wheels is more than your average kirtan tour – the idea is not only to sing kirtan; it is also to share messages that can be applied into Sikh lifestyle. The Gurdwaras we visited this time were all little communities tucked away from the cities; hence there isn’t much exposure to Sikh activities in more developed areas.
Sanggat in meditation
The other great thing about Kirtan on Wheels is that it’s not just the Kirtan Jatha that travels - the Mission hired a coach and welcomed members of the KL sanggat to tag along, to bring together the sanggat from different parts of the country. So we had a very diverse group of people on board – Uncle Jis, Aunty Jis, young families, and a whole battalion of youth, who dominated the back of the bus.
The theme is always to bring an element of worship into daily life, but this time we were also addressing an issue that was very relevant to the area we visited: idol/element worship and placing faith in rituals. The message was that just bring all your prayers back to the feet of the Guru!
Sunday programme at Gurdwara Sahib Tanjung Tualang - will all the little cutesy kids right in front.
We visited some of the most beautiful Gurdwaras in Malaysia – my cousins and I were sorely reminded of our own village Gurdwara in Ulu Yam, which has unfortunately lost its charm after that thing called modernisation came to knock on its door. Sigh… It’s really sad that we’re losing so many of our quaint Gurdwaras in Malaysia in a frenzy of tearing down and rebuilding. But before I start embarking on my own little crusade, I’m going to get back to this post :)
The grounds at Gurdwara Sahib Pusing - this Gurdwara has a special place in the hearts of all Malaysians, sanggat regularly comes here with their prayers. This is where we spent the night. Bliss!
Lovely little Gurdwaras and their lovely little langgar areas - sigh...!
The sanggat was beautiful in every place; they were warm and welcomed us with such grace that we felt right at home. And they know how to make a god cup of tea! I drank cha at every single stop – mind you that’s 8 cups of cha over 2 days - this is from someone who never drinks tea unless in India :)This is Cha stop Number 3 :) And I remember the cake. Divine Cake!
See it wasn't just me... Ickle Nimmerta couldn't resist the cha either :)
All in all, it was a weekend well-spent in the arms of Guru’s beloved sanggat. At the sanggat’s request, the Dasmesh Jatha made a second trip there during the Eid break, to continue sharing the Guru’s message.
If anyone is interested to join future Kirtan on Wheels trips you can log on to the Mission website or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
May Guru bless all those who spread His love!
Monday, 1 September 2008
But the many moments spent in front of the screen always yielded the same result - a beautifully blank page :)
I've learnt that the more profound the experience, the greater the silence that follows. The silence is a result of a simple dilemma: where to start (because the journey began years before I boarded the plane), what to skip over (because even the simple act of opening the tent flap every morning was a blessing), who to leave out (because I could talk for ages even about random hugs and smiles from people who shared my space).
And so I am resigned - trying to write about it is futile, as the only thing I'll succeed in doing is short-changing the reader as I trip and fall over words in a vain attempt to describe a spirit-soaring experience.
Instead I hope my pictures will help me do some of the talking. Here is the the lense through which I lived those few weeks.
Still, feel free to corner me and ask... I LOVE to talk about my time in Espanola (as some have painfully realised :p). Some of my favourite memories are about The Rise Up Minstrel and its Cacti-dodging Adventures, waking the Sun up at Morning Sadhana, The Fuzzy White Lines through the corner of my Eye during Tantric, The Forehead-Floor reunions during my visits to My Solstice Sanctuary, The Beautiful Beanie-Gloves-Shawl-Sunblock Relationship, Prayer Beads dancing through my Mind during Meditations, the Guru speaking to me in Spanish, the All-Night Lullaby that put the Universe to sleep, receiving Amrit for the First Time - again.
And of course, the all-time winner, Ishnaan Seva at Espanola Gurdwara, where Water raced down the Blessed Marble to reach the Golden Temple in my Heart. In those few moments I was truly in Amritsar.
I lived several lifetimes, crossed world-oceans, lost myself, found myself, discovered pain, discovered release, clung on, let go, hugged, laughed, cried. I bow eternally to that time and space, where emotion brewed in a pot and released the aroma of bliss.
I cannot end this post without sending out buckets of love and thanks to wonderful Shanti and Tyaga, for hosting us, feeding us, introducing us to Noah and Meeta, and most importantly, giving our minds and souls a home. Even a soaring spirit needs a santuary to rest in :)
And of course, thank you, Yogi Ji, for helping me pave my way to Guru Ram Das :D
Wednesday, 16 July 2008
Saturday, 14 June 2008
The most fascinating thing about sessions here was that everyone sat in their language groups. Since people come from all over Europe and English may not have been their first language, there were a few translators who would stand up in their little circles and explain what was being said. It was pretty neat to hear the Guru's word being translated into French, Dutch, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Italian...:)
There is nothing like doing sadhana to live music :)
All Whites! Taking a break in between Tantric
Monday, 9 June 2008
This is all the more concerning when you think about the racial make-up of my country, which is approximately 60% Malay, 30% Chinese and 8% Indian – which means that excluding the Chinese, who are already naturally fair, there is 68% of the population being told that they should be having sleepless nights at the thought that their skin isn’t comparable to the colour of chalk.
And I do, seriously, mean chalk. Because those ads are not referring to a healthy fair skin that the other half of the world’s population is blessed with. They are referring to… chalk.
This bugs me for two reasons – first, that I too now am the un-proud owner of whitening moisturiser – because even those of us who do not support such unashamedly confidence-bashing advertising are left with no choices. The ‘whitening’ stamp is now akin to a quality control certificate – if you don’t have it, your product won’t make it to the shelf. This maelstrom, however. will be short-lived – for on my next trip overseas I’m going to hunt down some plain Jane kind of lotion with no references to colour, and I’m going to stack up enough to last me the next 100 years or so. Sigh – the troubles and tribulations of being Brown…… don’t get me started on being left-handed :p
The second bug-me factor is not so easily healed – and here I’m referring to the so, so, so many women out there – especially Indian women, who look in the mirror everyday wishing for a snowfall that will wash away their colour. And naturally, as people are their own worst enemies, these women are not just battling effective advertising, but also pressure from their own families and communities, where the first thing anyone wants to know about someone’s girlfriend/daughter-in-law/newborn baby is: ‘Is she fair?’ And once that question is answered, the Writing is On the Wall dah-lin’, and fate is cast in stone.
This issue is something I can relate to, because when I was in my early teens, my skin colour bothered me too. Brown was nice and all, on someone else. But to be honest I wouldn’t have minded being a shade or two… or three…. Oh alright – the colour of chalk.
You wouldn’t think it if you knew me now though :p – today I am as proud and grateful and content as anything at the way my Creator made me. So I have my imperfections, but who doesn’t, eh? Thank God I grew out of that phase and discovered how much I loved being the colour of the earth and melted chocolate and curled cinnamon sticks!
But my point is that even for someone like me, who grew up in a family where the colour conversation never made it to the dinner table, who was encouraged to spend most of her time under the sun whilst having a non-existent relationship with sun block until recent years, who took no nonsense from anyone, and knew full well that advertising is a money-making sham where people are wheedled into wanting things they could in fact be quite happy without……… even that someone had her faith shaken as a little girl – all because some half-starved, malnourished, chalk-faced model on tellie insisted that she was the definition of beauty and the rest of us should be killing ourselves to look like her.
And so I worry for all those Beautiful Cubes of Brown Sugar scattered across the globe, those for whom colour is the only conversation at the dinner table, sunshine is sin, and fashion magazines the answer to all the world’s problems. For no matter how brightly their personality sparkles, it is simply not given the chance to shine through their dark skin.
And I want to say to them: Your Brownness is not a blemish, it’s a blessing – and no amount of slapping on that muck is going to change your complexion – unless you want to take it up with God directly. So let it rest and go lie in the sun instead! Don’t forget your sun block though – burns are no fun :)
Brown IS beautiful.
And for the record, so is White, Yellow, Black, Red, Beige……and whatever else I’ve missed out. I am being pro-colour, not pro-Brown – this post looks through the Brown glass because that’s what I can relate to, while I hope there are others out there fighting their own little battles for the right and beauty to be whatever colour they are.
Isn’t it ironic that while one end of the globe is obsessed with getting fairer, the other half sunbathes and visits tanning salons to get darker. Why can’t we all just be comfortable in our own skin, literally!
You know, in spite of the fact that God gave the world so much colour, when it comes to people, I hear that He is, in fact, colour blind.
I think it’d be pretty nice if we were too :)
Saturday, 3 May 2008
Thursday, 14 February 2008
Saturday, 19 January 2008
Ekjot, our youngest paathi-cousin, warming up with some practice before his turn
our glorious mothers-paathis-chefs taking a break
sleeping in the corridors is an age-old Ulu Yam tradition – even when there are vacant beds we all habitually charge for the floor!
on one evening, we headed over to our beautiful little village Gurdwara for an informal kirtan session
I like to think that it is this ‘formula’ for an Akhand Paath that brings it meaning, where the journey matters and not the destination. With everyone making the effort to read the translations, the ritual was transformed to meaningful practice. By keeping it in the family it truly becomes for the family, and with everyone having a hand in something we are reminded of the common roots that bind us.
Coming together like this is a grounding experience. It is this family, with its devotion and its tight knot; this home, with its organised confusion of 50 inhabitants; this village, with its little Gurdwara and vegetable patch, that has shaped so much of who I am.