By Jagdish Singh and Amanpreet Kaur | OPINION | MALAYSIA |
Samelans, satsangs, kirtan semagams, Friday programmes (or any day programmes, tbh) has always been integral to us, as members of the Malaysian Sangat. This statement certainly holds water if you’re no longer a naujawan. If you ask a naujawan (youth), chances are he or she would tell you they’re too busy.
For far too long, naujawans are often attributed for their own absence at Gurdwaras and other Sikh spaces. Most elders would nod in agreement, and go back to trying to figure out who’s marrying who.
Privately, we all know our Sikh community no longer has the hold and effect it once had in the early years. Naujawans are not engaged with activities that empower them, promote critical thinking, and challenge the social quo. There is no avenue to involve them outside of traditional Gurdwara programming. This is especially devastating when you realise that, as Sikhs, we come from a lineage of brave revolutionaries who were intellectual, highly spirited and engaged in promoting tenets of Sikhi.
The biggest tragedy of all is when committed and enthusiastic naujawans who want to engage in meaningful work, often get shut down or denied support by elders (in positions of some authority) for merely implementing action that defers from their view. Our elders have in recent years fragmented even further, attacking one another, back and forth because of their differences; clearly having forgotten the importance of ekta (unity).
As a collective of various naujawan groups, we will no longer watch from the sidelines as bystanders. We will be pushing for more meaningful action, leading the charge for the future; to empower ourselves and the Sangat (congregation) at large.
On 17 August 2019, Malaysian naujawans took their dedication for the Sangat one step further, by gathering in Gurdwara Sahib Ampang in Kuala Lumpur to discuss the various issues plaguing naujawans and to formulate actionable solutions.
The topics discussed were based on a basic survey sent out before the meeting to naujawan groups across Peninsular Malaysia; identifying mental health, family, welfare, and fostering unity, among others, as issues that needed to be looked into.
45 naujawans from various groups (including Niketan Youth Wing, Basics of Sikhi – Southeast Asia, GurbaniNaad, and many more), as well as unaffiliated youth, attended the session. Each group pledged themselves to the development of Malaysian Sikh Naujawans, agreeing to work together to come up with action plans for the discussed issues.
As a result, several initiatives will be introduced, beginning as soon as next month. Each initiative is led by one or several youth volunteers. Tentative plans have been put in place and can be viewed in the action plan attached below.
Next year, a major priority of the collective would be to conduct outreach programmes to lesser frequented areas and localities within our country; certain agreed-upon initiatives will be incorporated within these outreach programmes.
Round 2 of discussions were also held on 24 August at Sabha House (Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia headquarter in Kuala Lumpur), with more meetings to be expected in the future.
We encourage naujawans reading this article to join initiatives that they’d like to participate and contribute in. You can drop a DM to @MalaysianSikhs on Instagram or directly contact the naujawan groups listed as signatories.
[The authors were among the Sikh youth who took part in the meetings.]
RESOLUTION ADOPTED BY MALAYSIAN SIKH YOUTH ON AUGUST 2019
The Malaysian Sikh youth,
Guided by the Guru’s word as enshrined in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji.
1. Agree to work together on common ground for the development and progress of the Malaysian Sikh youth;
2. Agree to put the collective interests of the Malaysian Sikh youth before any personal or organisational agenda;
3. Will support endeavours and initiatives that will achieve or give effect to the goals and objectives listed in the action plan to be attached herewith.
SIGNATORIES: Akaal Camp, Babe Budha Ji Gatka Akhara, Basics of Sikhi Southeast Asia, Enkaurage, Getaway Camp, GurbaniNaad, Kaur’s Heart, Niketan, Petaling Jaya Naujawan, Seramban Youth, Sewa Squad Inc, Sikh Inside, and Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia.
2nd Youth Meeting, 24 Aug 2019
A tip to unite the youth (Asia Samachar, 10 Aug 2019)
Indonesian Sikh youth team up with American Sikh diplomat to introduce Sikhism to local students (Asia Samachar, 23 June 2019)
Malaysian Sikhs urged to take up intern opportunities (Asia Samachar, 3 April 2017)