By Jagdesh Singh
Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia (SNSM) has come a long way since 1963 when a group of young men gathered in the scenic town of Port Dickson to attend their first Sikh camp called the Gurmat Parchaar Samelan.
Essentially a Sikh youth camp that espouses the disciplined life of a Sikh over a week, these camps have since grown into a staple event for Sikhs across Malaysia. Almost every family, over the past three generations or so, know that the annual camp will be held during the month of December.
Over the years, the camp has established a template that efficiently handles large number of participants and sewadars (volunteers) in one location. This year, early estimates indicate around 550 participants and 250 sewadars, which are considered fairly modest notwithstanding late registrants and daily visitors. Food, logistics, safety and ensuring a curriculum that engages the youth is never a joke for the Samelan over the years. This year is no exception.
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Participants can range from the youngest being 2 years of age to the eldest being 19 years of age, while sewadars come from all walks. The participants are divided into camps according to their age groups. All sorts of activities have been planned, including a rather atypical talent search called the Sikh Factor.
The Sikh Factor aims to build a platform for the youth to voice out their thoughts and concerns, their dreams and their expectation of the generation before them, all via creativity and invention.
The first day of the Samelan (17 December 2017) had awesome weather. Snuggled between the scenic foothills in Kuala Kubu Baru, with cloudy skies that filtered the punishing sun rays, the opening ceremony drummed on rather smoothly. The Guru Granth Sahib, akin and treated rightfully as the living King on the throne for the Sikhs, was accompanied by the Panj Pyare (Beloved Five) into the Samelan grounds with aplomb and the loud roar of 75 over big motorcycles. The Guru was escorted from the Gurdwara Sahib Rasa, with the Sikhs from Rasa and Kuala Kubu Baru committing themselves to ensuring the Samelan was to be a success in their backyard.
There’s a feeling of promise, mixed with lots of hope, tempered with lots of potential for the children to experience what their predecessors have been experiencing over the past 54 years.
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