Malaysian Sikhs crank up Sikhi spirit at Thai camp

Bangkok, Thailand  | 27 Aug 2015 Asia Samachar |
Saheb Singh (green turban) with some of the facilitators and participants of the YTSA Gurmat Camp 2015.
Saheb Singh (green turban) with some of the facilitators and participants of the YTSA Gurmat Camp 2015.

By Soniya Gulati

The recently concluded annual Sikh youth camp in Bangkok, Thailand, is a prime example of excellent Southeast Asia sangat collaboration. Sikhs in the region are working together to shore up the Sikhi spirit.

The annual Young Thai Sikh Association (YTSA) Gurmat camp was a definite success with 190 participants from the ages of 6 to 21. Led by both Malaysian and Bangkok sewadars (reference to camp volunteers), the seven-day camp began on July 26.

The Malaysian team of nine included lawyer-kirtani Balvinder Singh, husband-wife team Sukhdarshan Singh and Kashminder Kaur, along with youth sewadars Saheb Singh, Harvinderjit Singh, Jiwan Kaur, Harjeet Singh, Simerjit Kaur and Satsimran Singh. They were joined by Giani Ishar Singh Hydrabad Wale.

Breathing fresh ideas into the annual YTSA Gurmat camp, Malaysian Sikh sewadars rekindled interest of the Thai Sikh youth with informative inspiration sessions and thought-provoking learning modules. Under the theme Bandy Khoj Dil Har Roz, participants were asked to use Guru Nanak’s three golden principles of life (Kirt Karni, Naam Japna, Wand Chakna) as guidelines for daily reflection.

After reflection, meditation and prayer sessions, the Malaysian sewadars spread their infectious enthusiasm and rhythmic energy with flash mob-style bhangra aerobics as well as social dynamic games.

In the evenings, Thai-Sikh sewadars took over; motivating youth to pursue their hobbies and interests particularly in art, singing, drama, dance, graphics and spoken poetry, with a Sikhi angle. Randomly grouped into four jathas, aptly named santokh, saram, parteet, and dhyan; participants worked together using their desired medium to culminate an art-piece and performance based on their respective jatha names.

The Mighties program aimed towards children ages 6 to 9 years old; though only held half-day left a positive impact. Throughout the samelan, children could be heard singing geets, rhymes and humming shabads. The Malaysian sewadars, in particular, Harjeet Singh, Jiwan Kaur, Simerjeet Kaur and Satsimran Singh, taught children Sikhi-related crafts arousing their curiousity with interactive activities and sakhis. Mom sewadars also participated making sure children were well taken care off at every point.

Being a thoroughly immersive experience, participants at the samelan formed new friendships, developed fresh perspectives and gained a strong respect for Sikhism. “Spirituality and wisdom came to life as they merged with joy and happiness, bringing up a combination of perfection,” said Simran Kaur Chabra, the youth leader of Dhian jatha, when asked to describe the YTSA Gurmat Camp 2015.


[Soniya Gulati was one of the facilitators at the YTSA Gurmat Camp 2015, #bkksamelan2015]


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