Engage youth on what matters to them – MGC seminar tells Sikh gurdwaras

| Ipoh, Malaysia | 23 Aug 2015 | Asia Samachar | Updated: Sept 2 |
One participants seeking clarification at the MGC seminar in Ipoh, Perak, on Aug 22. - PHOTO ASIA SAMACHAR
One participants seeking clarification at the MGC seminar in Ipoh, Perak, on Aug 22. – PHOTO ASIA SAMACHAR

Gurdwaras in Malaysia are generally failing to attract the Sikh youth because they are not engaging them on what matters most to them, a Sikh seminar in Ipoh, Perak, was told yesterday.

The secret to getting the youth to the gurdwara is through engagement, collaboration and empowerement.

“There is no real link between the youth and the gurdwara today, there are hardly any youth in the gurdwara. We need to engage the youth, collaborate with them, and empower them,” said IT professional Harpreet Kaur.

She was one of the four panel members at the Northern Region Seminar in Religious Matters organised by the Malaysian Gurdwaras Council (MGC) in Ipoh, Perak.

The one-day seminar, attended by about 90 people, centred on matters related to the youth.

The discussion was spot on for Balraj Singh, the treasurer at Gurdwara Sahib Taiping, who attended the seminar with his wife Dharampreet Kaur.

“I do see that some people from the older generation cannot accept the thinking of the younger generation. They are more concerned with the gurdwara’s water bill, electricity bill. I came in search of new ideas,” he told Asia Samachar.



When dealing with the Gen Y, Harpreet said gurdwara management teams must use tact. “When doing seva, for example, we must encourage them, not order them around,” she said.

Those born before 1965 are known as Baby Boomers. Gen X are those born 1965 onwards, Gen Y are those born between 1975 and 2000, while Gen Z are those born 2001 onwards.

“Most parents impose religious rules on the child without filling them up on  the spiritual side of it. The children today wants to know why. The spiritual side is very important.

“They need to be told why such and such a thing is good for them. It’s no longer: ‘Do this because I told you so,’” she said.

Speaking on ‘Understanding the Generation Y, Dr Karminder Singh said Sikhi will be viewed by them in value percepts, not simply by what you tell them.

“They are changing every sector of our lives, they cannot live without gadgets. Web is the most relied source of information to them,” he told the seminar. “Engage them on what matters to them. If something does not matter to them, they won’t get engaged.”

Gurdwara Sahib Bercham committee secretary Arjan Singh notes that gurdwara will have to play its role in engaging the youth.

“The gurdwara should be a place of learning, not just programme, programme, programme,” he told Asia Samachar.



Harwindar Singh, a former jathedar of the Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia (SNSM), spoke on the relevance of the Sikh Reht Mardaya, the Sikh code of conduct.

“The Sikh Reht Maryada is the most comprehensive and well researched document on application of Sikhi principles. There is no initiative like it, either before or after. It is a strong source of information for Sikhs,” he said.

In his presentation, MGC president Jagir Singh touched on matters pertanining to the constitution and law.

“Sikhs have every right to establish and maintain institutions under the Malaysian constitution,” he said.

Jagir also spoke on the advantages and disadvantages of registering a gurdwara with the Registrar of Societies (ROS), the regulatory body which governs registered societies in Malaysia.

“If a gurdwara is not registered, it will come under the protection of Article 11 of the Federal Constitution. Such a gurdwara can have their own rules and regulations,” he said.

The question of registering a gurdwara was one of the main issues that attracted two participants from Batu Gajah to the seminar: state welfare officer Paramjit Singh and Jaswinder Singh.

“I’m involved in Gurdwara Sahib Guru Arjan Dev at Batu Gajah. We’re now considering whether to register it under ROS or otherwise,” he said. – ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY PIARA SINGH

TOP (L-R): 1. TAIPING: Balraj Singh and wife Dharampreet Kaur 2. BERCHAM: Arjan Singh 3. BATU GAJAH: Paramjit Singh and Jaswinder Singh. BOTTON: Some of the speakers and participants at the one-day MGC religious seminar in Ipoh, Perak, on Aug 22. - PHOTO ASIA SAMACHAR
TOP (L-R): 1. TAIPING: Balraj Singh and wife Dharampreet Kaur 2. BERCHAM: Arjan Singh 3. BATU GAJAH: Paramjit Singh and Jaswinder Singh. BOTTON: Some of the speakers and participants at the one-day MGC religious seminar in Ipoh, Perak, on Aug 22. – PHOTO ASIA SAMACHAR


[ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs in Southeast Asia and surrounding countries. We have a Facebook page, do give it a LIKE. Follow us on Twitter. Visit our website: www.asiasamachar.com]



Sikhs to join Bangkok bomb blast memorial (Asia Samachar, 20 Aug 2015)

Sikh leaders at India national day in KL (Asia Samachar, 18 Aug 2015)

Klang gurdwara AGM rejects lohree bonfire (Asia Samachar, 17 Aug 2015)

Bayan Baru new gurdwara short RM1m (Asia Samachar, 13 Aug 2015)

PSU re-elects Gurjeet as president, Hardev made deputy (Asia Samachar, 6 July 2015)

Keeping of ‘long hair’, ‘facial hair’ and wearing of kara – MGC  (Asia Samachar, 16 June 2015)

CMSO attends Putrajaya briefing (Asia Samachar, 11 June 2015)

Sikh NGOs to attend Putrajaya funding briefing (Asia Samachar, 9 June 2015)

Subang gurdwara building out to tender (Asia Samachar, 25 June 2015)

Dubai gurdwara aims for ISO certification (Asia Samachar, 17 June 2015)

Ipoh gurdwara gets RM200k for renovation (Asia Samachar, 12 June 2015)

Rethinking gurdwara design (Asia Samachar, 21 Apr 2015)


  1. People talk about EGO, and perspectives..
    Without realizing that thinking I’m right, waiting for others to bend first, staying quiet or away with negative thoughts, is itself also ego….

    If we could just be the one to stay “LOVING”, and Giving in..
    Compassion with Love.. And remain Sweet..
    *Hum nahi changey..
    *Mithat neevi Nanka gun changiyaiyan tat..
    Every community needs to think about the direction in which they wish to go.They need to know/be aware of any threats-internal /external.These issues are the perogative of the so called leaders.Those “entrusted” with welfare of the people/community, whilst the average people go about their daily lives.WE have numerous sants,jathedars, and Gurduara Pardhans who have styled themselves as “leaders”to mkuch extent, even if the do not understand the ABC of the religion and community.When they themselves do not understand, how are they to offer /invite and support the needs of the young growing of the community?

    If one were to challenge these “leaders”of the community, they will fail the litmus test paper, and any assessment of trial facts would soon bare their clueless mentality regards the religion, youth, women,social, inter religious and racial issues, as was seen when not too long ago, some insame and uninformed women made some assumedly disaparaging remarks about Guru Nanak, one saw the flood of these leaders making “police reports”and urging everyone to do so!What has that come to ?Zero.

    If, if only for a split second we had adopted a different strategy-inviting this sad lady, and offering her the love of Sikhism and explaining true face of Sikhism, in a friendly warm manner.The result would have been different.No body would have to laugh at the Sikhs and their reports, nor the community be left feeling unsupported by the police.That invite of warmth and love of Sikhi would have educated her, and she would have gone home feeling regretful for her own actions, and with an impressively high image of the Sikhs, rather the bits of bitterness she will remember.

    This shows, the real face on the ground vison of the Sikh leadership-it has even been distant from it’s own young; as its communication with it’s own young has broken down by self vested interests and jealousies of each other, and negative actions of “main main, tun tun ” that brings no benefit to the KAUM.Neither the benefit of self egoed HATRED retention, that some so called leaders retain within their ill mind, when some-body points out “a misunderstanding or wrong”that may hav etaken place.They forget they are Sikh- learners like anyone of us.Sadly, they carry this baggage of their ill hatred around..in circles.

    Failing the youth and failing to attract them is not the fault of the building -Gurduara-but that of the managers-who are with no vision-but to collect monies for either sports or buildings through extortionate rates of dinners-an action that is alien and non Sikh, and does not agree with Gurmat.

    The leaders have, through the Gurduara system failed the youth the following things, education of Sikhi, Sikh history, Individual and Coporate Sikh unity, Gurbani, with meaningful reasons;and their Mother tongue.There is absolutely nothing with mindfulness, that is communicated to the youth.

    Instead, theYOUTH are ordered, directed, and told often by people who themselves totally lack the Sikhi or Sikh education, MINDFULNESS of the community, to do something or not to do something without any explanation about why, how, who and when it needs done.

    In this state, the Youth are in doldrums,confused, and uncertain of their loyalties, esspecially when they come minority groups, within a larger non Sikh environment and propoganda,and the Sikhs leadership is greater mess .

    Our so called leaders have failed toi unite us on common terms by imparting any uniformity of though, uniformity of the religion and uniformity of Sikh love, based on Gurbani, it’s understanding to the people,.Instead they appear to have imersed into the bad politics, jealousies, hatred within their body, for personal gain, many are mnore worried getting a datuk award than being a Gursikh of the Guru, or the sangat.
    As a result,unsikh like practices have crept in faster than a typhoon storm, and we have become splintered into all directions, while trying to hold on to the hand rails of Sikhi at the edges.The sadesst part is that VERY little effort is being made to reverse this pathetic trend.

    THus many youth have become unintersted in Sikhi or Gurduaras.Secondly,many leaders can be seen to be putting thoise who are interested , at each other’s throats over Sikh fundemantals, as opposed to UNITY.

    Our plump Gurduara pardhans do not after a few years of pardhanship want to sit in anything no lesser than a mercedes.They in turn misuse sangat funds to invite friendly jathedars, gianis from abroad, who have no links with local situations, to dispense Sikhi.Which 99% of those who attend do not understand because of the differences in culture and language.

    There are manay other areas,lack of entrepreunel opportunities that gurduaras can create by linking with Universities,Big banks and Businesses; manufaturing thus failing to support their own youth;Others happily carry out acts of unfounded ritual because these rituals look COOL, as someone put;and push the young in to a state of confusion, and belief they ARE half hindus!Many feel proud their daughters, sons have married outside, even though they lied about it and begin lives with lies with the very first lavn .

    Some even add the suffix SINGH or Kaur to maintain their self respect, but feel it is kool to lie , even when SINGH is addded to Shamugunathan , or Arokiasamy or Abdullah…or Christopher —the youth see these double standards…and not at all impressed.

    WE talk and talk about others poaching our youth, but we do nothing else, are signs seen as weak by the youth, who then want to be on the cool side of the strong!
    What is needed is a new generation of leaders, who can connect through their Sikhi bhes with the youth.Whose kathni and Krni are the same.Who are committed to promoting the well being of teh Sikh youth and future generations and people.Such calibre of leadership is more important , for Sikhi being an international community is watched, seen and labelled around the world.

    These leaders need clear vision and understanding about the hypocritical caste system, dowry ,false and misleading interpretation of the maryada and Gurbani, and attempts to club with hinduism, and working with parents who add falselyy the names SINGH and Kaur to their non Sikh intended relative;while GURDUARA Committees OBLIGE quietly; the prevalance of alcohilism in a large section of the community,and the dual identity crises.
    Only when these are addressed we will see the rise of leaders who have foresight, vision and ability to place Sikhi in it’s rightful state.It is a modern religion that has been managed badly by the corrupted, apsotates, who have no idea where the A starts from or the E ends at the Gurbani.Sikhism amd it’s future could look brightly orange, if not for the semi illiterate leaders, who cannot visualize the future with Sikh identity on a growing international stage

  2. I am appalled by such shallow reasoning.Shame is a personal emotional process that takes place when they KNOW they have commited an action that is unwelcome by society at large or the law. The resolution is simply, do not do anything that brings shame.This cannot be done by another for another.The buck stops at personal level.

    Many people get embarrased and shamed when they are caught by the law, having commited an action contrary to law.

    Does, that then mean the law makers no longer make the law or charge THESE people in courts?
    A very lethagically pressed reasoning given above.

    If one is avoiding to come to sangat because of such reasoning over their own actions….then they will never learn, and there is no need for Gurduaras, to dispense the TRUTH.Sikhism is based UPON TRUTH.Perhaps, the Guru should bend over and apologise to these people?

    The bottom line is simply the lack of Sikh parchar, contrary actions and practices, and growing challenges of living as a minority within a multi racial cosmopolitan society.

  3. I believe that many youths do not visit the gurdwara these days because they have no understanding on what is going on as everything seems to be a foreign language that they do not comprehend. I’d say that if what is being preached by the gianis can teach on how to live a life as a sikh in this ever evolving world, im sure alot would be interested. Lifestyle is one thing that many youths, not just sikhs are always interested in.
    Theres also alot of SHAMING that takes place whenever a katha goes on, like alcoholism, cutting of hair, eating of meat/ jatka meat…the more gurdwara surpresses and shames youths about these issues, the more they would not want to attend any event taking place. Rather than making it an issue or an order that such action is bad, engaging the youth by asking them why do they do that to understand them first would be the first step towards building a better youth community.