By RP Singh
Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia (SNSM) will be hosting the 51st edition of its Annual Gurmat Parchaar Samelan from Dec 14 to Dec 20. Samelan 2014 is the largest annual affair welcoming Sikh youth not only from Malaysia but also from overseas.
This year’s camp will be held at the quaint town of Bentong, Pahang, about 80 km northeast of Kuala Lumpur.
The week long signature events for SNSM, first started in 1963, is held during the year-end Malaysian school holidays.
SNSM Jathedar and Samelan 2014 organising chairman Pavandeep Singh said this year’s edition is expected to receive 800 participants from the host country as well those from Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia.
On top of that, some 200 sewadars (volunteers) from throughout the country will also be on the grounds to help in the smooth running of the event.
The camp comprises leadership training, prayers, games and many other interesting activities.
Participants acre divided based on their respective age groups i.e., Secondary (above 12 years of age) and Primary (below 12 years of age). The primary group will have their own programme run concurrently with the Secondary group.
There is also a group for children who are 5 years and below or known as Nikkey Khalsa. Youth Leader, meanwhile, is another group that consists of future sewadars.
Running an event that host 1,000 individuals is of course no easy feat and takes a lot of funds.
On a ball park figure, the organisers would need to fork out about RM300,000 to run the seven day event. From this about 70% of the funds are from donations in cash and kind. The remaining comes from fees imposed on sewadars and participants.
“Yes, the camp volunteer workers actually pay to be at the camp. Its one form of sea (service),” said one regular sewadar.
The first Gurmat Parchaar Samelan was held in Port Dickson, south of Kuala Lumpur, in 1963 with 22 participants. It was an all boys event. Under the advice of SNSM first patron, Baba Sohan Singh, the camp organisers then included girls in the camp in the following year.
Since then the number and varieties of these camps have been growing due to the request from the sanggat (congregation).