by Surinder Singh, Springfield, VA
Originally published by Sikh News Network on Dec. 3, 2011.
People go to clubs and Sikhs go to gurdwara. When we go to gurdwara without any basic understanding, it is almost like going to a club where people just hang around, eat, laugh and play. That’s mostly what Sikhs are doing at gurdwaras these days.
I was watching a video on YouTube submitted by a user for Sikh Youth Film Festival. In this video, a team of about 15 people went to various gurdwara sahibs around Northern India and conducted a survey of one question: Why do you come to gurdwara? They asked everyone coming there and it was fun watching how people reacted to this question. Many of them couldn’t think of any reason while others tried to come up with one. And, as you may have guessed by now, 50 percent of them said: langar.
If I were to conduct the same survey here today, I am not expecting any fancier answer than that.
For me going to gurdwara began when I used to crawl to the golak and my parents would run to grab me. It came as a package with my birth in my regularly gurdwara-going family.
Until we are in our tweens, we love to go there because, hey, it is five times bigger a place to play than our homes, isn’t it? But then the phase starts where we start questioning why do we have to go there every Sunday, why do we have to sit there for two hours and listen to something we don’t even understand? Seriously how many of us take time and really read every line of translation being displayed on Sikhi-to-the-Max. We start rationalizing that we are busy at school and we have several projects on hand, perhaps its better to sit home and finish them all.
In my teens I became like that too, but just for a short while only, just to be more measurable than I was before.
But I began missing the routine of going to gurdwara, hanging with my friends, helping in the kitchen, helping with spreading sheets and, of course, eating langar. I began realizing that going to gurdwara had become a part of my life. It was my lifestyle on Sundays.
I started involving myself more and more with sevaa at the gurdwara. Initially it was just a part of being there, that I will go help in the kitchen, but then I started feeling so content, so peaceful and happy after helping.
I was at an age where I was growing out of childhood and stepping in to adulthood. This is the time to develop your lifestyle, not your parents’, not your elder brothers’ or sisters’, just yours. This is the time to start making decisions that influence your future. This is where you start shaking a bit with the thought of just being out there by yourself and living with the result of your choices, good or bad.
The gurdwara became my fort, my oval office, where I will go every Sunday empower myself with some new thoughts, regain some peace through sevaa, recharge myself with some keertan and before going back into the mysterious world I lived in.
Speaking of keertan, the more I listened to it the more it began coming to me. I started understanding some of the shabads. Then I gradually improved and started paying attention to all the words. They all sort of started coming together. When I got lost I could always open my eyes and look at the screen for a clear translation.
I am forgetting the mouth watering part of all this – karah parshaad. Isn’t it the tastiest thing on the earth?
Today, I don’t find reasons to go to gurdwara or not to go. I just go. I don’t even think about it. It is like getting up in the morning and brushing your teeth. You don’t think about it anymore, you just do it. Who doesn’t know the benefits of brushing? There are plenty more reasons to go to gurdwara than not. When you get into this competition of finding the pros and cons, you miss the bus. So stop thinking about it. Just keep going, and one day you will be saying the same thing like me: I am loving it!!!!!
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