By Jagdesh Singh
Some 40 volunteers, young and old, are involved in the preparations for Malaysia’s largest Sikh camp that will be held at Khalsa Land, a Sikh camp site located about an hour’s drive from Kuala Lumpur.
The camp, called the Annual Gurmat Parchaar Samelan, is organised by Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia (SNSM), a national Sikh youth organisation that started holding camps in the early 1960s.
“We want to share with the participants practical Sikhi, i.e. read and acquire, understand and apply. Otherwise, everything will remain as mere information,” SNSM Jathedar Dr Jasbir Singh tells Asia Samachar in an interview.
The annual camp, simply called samelans by most Malaysians, is probably the largest annual Sikh camp around the world in terms of participant numbers. The one-week camp usually hosts about 1,300 participants and volunteer facilitators, with a few hundred daily visitors.
Since 2015, the camp has been held at the camp site called Khalsa Land, a 20-acres camp site in Kuala Kubu Bharu (KKB) bought by SNSM in 2002.
Here is the full interview.
Q: How are the preparations coming up for this year’s Samelan?
SNSM is all geared up for the coming Samelan which is from 17 to 23 December 2017. We are constructing classrooms to provide a comfortable place for the participants to learn and acquire knowledge.
Q: What is your vision for this year’s Samelan?
The aim for the Samelan this year is to share with the participants the following learning objectives:
a. Know that we are all One
b. Identify & overcome obstacles that separates us
c. Accept & respect diversity
d. Shabd Guru is the unifying factor
e. Amrit is an initiation to bhaicara of Khalsa Panth
We want to share with the participants practical Sikhi, i.e. read and acquire, understand and apply. Otherwise, everything will remain as mere information.
Q: How does your vision for the Samelan fall with your KPIs for the Sabha?
I had spelt out SNSM’s vision which will cover the following areas: Parchar (preaching), youth development, education, welfare and administration.
Q: How big is the team organising the Samelan?
We have nearly 40 Naujawans and Seniors working together to ensure the participants’ stay is memorable, educational and comfortable. 90% of the section heads comprise of the Exco members of SNSM. Many volunteers are involved in preparing the Learning Modules for Miri Piri, Mighty Khalsa and Nikkey Khalsa; afternoon activities; competitions, etc. We will also have a group of Gursikhs coming from the US to share with the participants.
Q: What will be different from previous Samelans?
We will be introducing two forums for the afternoon activities slot. The first forum will be on Unity, the other on Striving for Excellence. The Heart to Heart session will be in the afternoon for two days and this will conducted differently compared to past years. The different learning methodologies which were used in the past two years will continue to be used. These methodologies allow more interactive sessions and a short lecture.
Q: Any special guests coming in this year?
We will also have a group of Gursikhs coming from the US to share with the participants. There will be 9 of them and are known as MySimranInfo.
Q: How are you attracting newbies to this year’s Samelan?
The social media team has been publishing very frequently on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to attract the youth. Kirtani Jathas (groups singing Sikh hymns and conducting lectures) have been touring and booths have been set up to publicise.
Q: How has your personal journey been from a participant, sewadar to now Jathedar been?
It has been a very memorable journey and I thank Waheguru for blessing me with this sewa. I feel very fortunate where the opportunities made me learn to face challenges and become a better human being. I was never a person who knew what Sikhi was all about, the opportunities provided by all the sewadars made me learn what Sikhi was all about, the motivation that led me to learn Gurmukhi, even though I was 20 years old then,
The experience that I have gone through makes me realise that I have a lot to learn, to be humble, to be patient and to be a good human being.
A lot of challenges but I have many good people around me who continuously motivate me. This keeps me moving forward and keeps reminding me that I am not alone, I cannot do it on my own and I am useless without the people around me.
Q: What is your personal message to the sewadars this year?
I will remind myself and also share with my brethren that Guru Nanak shared with us who our Guru is, i.e. Shabad Guru and we all are the ‘chelays’. We need to be knowledgeable to understand our purpose in life and for these we must acquire the divine knowledge our Guru has given to us. It will only be worthwhile if we apply what we have acquired in our jiwan (lives). We belong to One Father and we have to be one and this is in line with this year’s theme shabad, Ek Pita Ekaas Keh Hum Barakh.
Q: What is your personal message to the participants this year?
Whether we are sewadars or participants, the message remains the same. We are all learners, we learn and we grow together.
Q: KKB is mainstay now. What are the infrastructure changes this year?
As mentioned earlier, we have constructed classrooms to have a more conducive environment for learning. The classrooms will be air-conditioned with learning facilities.
SNSM sources its funding from members and general public. They have never let down SNSM whenever funding is required. SNSM is here today because of the support provided by the Sangat and we pray the support continues as we need to further develop KKB for our future generation. Although the process is slow, by Waheguru’s grace, we are proud to say this place is ours.
[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] 16912
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