Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia | Asia Samachar |18 June 2015
The afternoon sun was shinning bright. It was hot and humid in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia. Perfect day to quench the thirst with some cool, refreshing drink.
Outside a supermarket in one pocket of the city, a group of Sikhs were doing exactly that: serving cool air bandung or cold rose milk syrup.
The crowd was building up in front of the Pasaraya Haniffah, the venue chosen for the Chabeel Day. As they passed the counters, the Sikh volunteers offered them the air bandung.
Chabeel, literally in Punjabi, means way or place where drinking water is available. The word has been used when free drinks are served, mostly in conjunction with the martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev, the fifth Guru of the Sikhs.
In Punjab and many other places, the martydom was observed towards the end of May. Sikhs had got together in their local communities to hand out cold drinks to passers-by to remember the sacrifice of their fifth Guru.
In the United Kingdom, the Sikh Press Association (SikhPA) is organising a Chabeel Week from June 22-28, with an underlying message of ‘chardi-kala’ (eternal optimism), the Sikh ethos of remaining optimistic.
Guru Arjan Dev became the first Sikh martyr in 1606 after he refused to change the Sikh scriptures as ordered by the Mughal Emperor Jahangir. When Guru Arjan Dev refused, he was tortured to death by being made to sit on a red hot plate whilst hot sand was poured over him, according to a statement by prepared by SikhPA for the week.
“Instead of remembering this event through mourning, the Guru taught the Sikhs to accept Gods will as sweet. Therefore, Sikhs changed negativity to positivity by turning an attack upon them into a chance to serve others. We honour the Guru’s burning by cooling everyone else. This is Chardi-Kala,” the statement adds.
For the first time, perhaps in the recent years, the serving of chabeel to remember the Guru’s martyrdom was held in Kuala Lumpur.
More than a dozen Sikhs had gathered outside the supermarket on 14 June. The event was organised by the Coalition of Malaysian Sikh Organisations (CMSO), with the support of Gurdwara Sahib Main Duab, Gurdwara Sahib Petaling Jaya and the Punjabi Education Centre (PEC).
Over 2,000 cups of cold air bandung were served to the public, according to the organisers. It’s a small start with great growth potential. The underlying message is so powerful that Sikhs cannot afford to ignore. This is one martyrdom that Sikhs and the people of the world must know and appreciate.
TOMORROW: Retired teacher DisVimther Kaur shares her experience during the recent Chabeel seva in Kuala Lumpur.
SikhPA video: Chabeel Week 2015 – Sharing Chardikala with the World
[ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs in Southeast Asia and surrounding countries. We have a Facebook page, do give it a LIKE! Visit our website: www.asiasamachar.com]
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