Kids Corner


In Jalandhar:
Postcards From The Road





It was a pleasant surprise receiving an invitation to do kirtan in Jalandhar, Punjab.

It was at the 64th Annual Basant Panchami Mela at the Baba Buddha Trust, Nirmal Takht, village Dakoha, Jalandhar.

This is the first time that our 'main' group has been invited for kirtan in Punjab. Previously, we have only done kirtan at all the major gurdwaras in Delhi during the 400th anniversary of the parkash of the Adi Granth in 2004. Then, again, at the invitation of the World Punjabi Organisation.

I was assured that our hosts wanted our full 'foreign' group and the 'sound' from our recorded albums. The organisers assured us that their 'childdren' only like to hear our brand of kirtan! So we descended on the simple country folk of Jalandhar, children from schools from and around jalandhar, plus guests from as far away as Delhi, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Kapurthala, and even Pathankot!

This 'takht' is associated with childbirth -- as would naturally be expected of our reverent Baba Buddha, and the birth of Guru Hargobind. They attract couples -- in typical Indian fashion! -- who are barren and praying for a family, and even those who have opted for in vitro fertilisation. So much so, that the two sons of the resident Bhai Sahib, Bhagwant-Bhajan Singh, are both western qualified medical doctors.

As per Baba Buddha, there is great 'charrahva' (offerings) and parshad of 'missiaan roteean' and onions.

I was forewarned by some (I’m sure, well-wishing) 'kharrkus' who came especially to warn me that by performing here I might be sidelining myself from the 'mainstream'. They were very gracious though when I informed them that I had come to do 'kirtan haazri'. That since I have been doing so in western concerts, folk, arts, new age, multicultural and multifaith concerts globally, then how was this any different?

Furthermore, the fact that my 'jatha' was not allowed to do kirtan haazri at Darbar Sahib, Amritsar, then I am side-lined anyway.

In fact here we were doing kirtan in the Guru's sangat. I was so glad when they stayed on to listen to our kirtan and left after some very warm hugs.

Though the weather in January was bad, the enthusiasm of the huge crowd, the sewa, the joy, the laughter, the fun, was all such a heart-warming sight. The village was overrun by thousands. Dr. Puneet Singh Gill, who is the older son of Bhai Bhagwant Bhajan Singh, told me that as many as 100,000 arrive on the main day. He informed us that there are over 300 sevadars just helping with the traffic flow.

Bhai Sahib himself spent the two days sitting in a tent tying dastaars on the heads of young Sikh boys and saying a prayer for each. No one was allowed to touch his feet. Boys were getting dastaar tied and then told to go and 'mathha tek' before Guru Granth Sahib where the divan was ongoing from 9 am to 4 pm.

Though a 'dera', Sikhi is practised and the focal point of all activities is the Guru Granth Sahib. This is 'primary' Sikhi at its best: about naam juppna, vund ke chhakna and kirat karni.

We do sometimes differentiate between what we consider the 'mainstream which follows the Maryada and the ‘fringe’ groups such as this one which fall outside it. But here, I saw love and Sikhi parchaar at the grass roots level.

Our 'team' for this joyful occasion was: Nepalese tabla player Dheeraj Shrestha on tabla, my youngest daughter Parvyn, her husband Josh on dilruba and guitar, and our sound engineer/musician Quentin on guitar and didgeridoo.

It was a great feeling doing kirtan with my original jatha and it was a joy doing kirtan here. Waheguru willing, our jatha shall get many more of such wonderful opportunities.

February 11, 2015

Conversation about this article

1: Kanwal Prakash Singh (Indianapolis, Indiana, USA), February 12, 2015, 8:48 AM.

Bhai Dya Singh ji: You are a gifted and enlightened ambassador of Sikh tradition, Sikh music, and the all-embracing message of the Sikh Faith. Your "Family of Musicians and their non-traditional musical instruments" have placed the illuminating and moving beauty of the sacred shabads and Sikh raags before audiences around the world and earned the accolades and admiration of Sikhs as well as people of other faith traditions. As I read your experience at the gurdwara commemmorating the venerable Baba Buddha ji, my mind traveled to the evening Rehras Sahib: "... kaitey terray raag puree so kahiyyen / kaitey terray gaavan haaray ..." Dya Singh ji, you are a modern-day Sikh Bard and "Kookkar" of the pilgrimage of the spirit; a devoted teacher of Sikh faith and its exalted message. We remember another celebrated bard and sevak: The venerable Bhai Mardana ji, the travel companion of Guru Nanak and the First Disciple of the Sikh faith. I wonder if the tradition of who can sing at the Darbar Sahib, Amritsar, may be missing the opportunity to share some world-class Sikh emerging talents with the world, searching for interfaith connections, universal messages of peace, goodwill, and learning about the collective spiritual heritage that may benefit mankind? "...wajjay terray naad anayk assunkhan / ketay terray waavan harray ..." May the message of the sanctity and reverberating echoes of the unifying precepts of our shared humanity as enshrined in the sacred Guru Granth Sahib, and an ever-enlarging intersection among diverse faiths, cultures, and communities be our guiding light and anchor as we traverse another dark and challenging chapter as a human family and civilization. Sacred devotional music is a prayer with a transcendent spirit and may be an important bridge to lead us to the crossroads of trust and understanding where our common spiritual mandates may triumph.

2: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), February 14, 2015, 7:16 PM.

Dya jI, I nearly missed your postcard since you missed your usual banner. The piece had slid to second tier by the time I got to it, because of other pressing problems of international importance that Sher ji had to address. Good to hear that you continue to make waves as expected. Looks like the babas do have their uses. It must have been a tad tiring despite your effortless delivery. Looks like you need to go to a health resort and wish to inflict your painful experience on others pursuant to the edict of 'Vund Chhakna'. Keep sending the postcards despite the postage going up, as they are quickly going out of fashion. Nostalgically, I remember in my long by-gone days, the postage used to be 3 paisey. If you wanted a free registration, you didn't put the stamp. The postman would hand-deliver it and there was a fine of another 3 paisey. For a total of 6 paisey the letter became registered and much cheaper and painless than standing in line at the post office. Have fun ... keep the postcards coming before they go extinct.

3: M P Singh (Australia), February 16, 2015, 12:41 AM.

Gurfateh, Dya Singh ji. You have a golden voice, superb knowledge of the raags and you're blessed with dedication towards singing Guru's praises. Please keep it up with Waheguru's grace. Wish I was in your team.

4: Simerjit Singh Sangha (Jalandhar, Punjab), February 16, 2015, 10:19 PM.

Bhsi Sahib: It was indeed a pleasure listening to you live. We hope to convince you to come to our humble city soon again, God willing!

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Postcards From The Road"

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