Master Pritam Singh: Jovial, humble but nurturing

Retired teacher Pritam Singh played an active role in Sikhi parchaar in Malaysia, especially with his long relationship with youth body Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia. He passed away on 12 April 2021. DARSHAN KAUR pays a tribute

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Pritam Singh at the early days of Khalsa Land, the SNSM camp site in Kuala Kubu Bharu, Selangor – Photo: Harnarinder Singh
By Darshan Kaur | MALAYSIA |

Master Pritam Singh Ji, fondly known as Masterji, was everyone’s friend.

Speaking to my sister, Windy after Masterji’s passing, she recalled how Masterji would often call us – Sabha’s Children (Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia – SNSM) – his friends.  There were so many of us at Gurmat Samelans or SNSM events and he would address some of us by saying, “Hello my friend…”.  And, if you made the effort to greet Masterji at social functions, he would even thank you for coming to meet him.

Masterji, in his capacity as SNSM Jathedar or advisor, was someone you wanted to meet because you knew he would surely make you smile. In fact, he would most likely make you giggle or laugh out loud with his wise cracks and jokes. Even if he was the most senior person in the room, rest assured, he was the most playful.

Masterji was not only jovial, humble but very nurturing.

I had the privilege to be on in the team, along with Masterji, for the Punjabi Bhasa Mela. This is an annual event designed for young children meant to encourage the learning of the mother tongue. Held annually, he played a key role in the event. There were many chaa-meetings in the Sabha House, as the SNSM’s headquarters is known, then located in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur.

Scenes from SNSM’s Gurmat Samelan in 1977 at Petaling Jaya gurdewara. Master Pritam Singh is addressing the participants (bottom, right) – Photo: Courtesy of SNSM
Master Pritam Singh at one of the SNSM Hola Mahalla event – Photo: Harnarinder Singh
Master Pritam Singh at a SNSM Punjabi Bhasa Mela event – Photo: Harnarinder Singh

What started off with planning and preparing for the event, with Masterji’s encouragement and insistence, I ended up being one of the initial judges for the competition. This was despite my embarrassing revelation that I had failed my Punjabi paper in lower secondary.  Masterji’s retort: “So what? I will be there to guide you. This is your opportunity to learn. There is nothing for you to worry about, Beta. Besides, I need someone who knows how to write `khabrah’.”  News-writing was one of the categories of the competition. I knew Masterji was more than capable of doing  in English, Punjabi and Malay, eloquently.  This is an example of Masterji’s endearing way of inspiring us and making us step out of our comfort zones.

His fatherly advice, personality and warm hugs will surely be missed. Masterji was a committed sewadar, full of enthusiasm and very disciplined. The latter, he credited to his teaching background and subsequently as headmaster of the school.

An amazing orator, he knew how to engage the youth and lure them onto the right path.  This “magic” was Masterji’s trademark.  He was funny yet frank, down-to-earth and very aware of problems plaguing the youth.

Volunteering was in his veins. I recall Masterji’s words, “…as sewadars, Sabha’s vision and mission should be close to our hearts…we should focus on serving the community.”  A testament of his dedication to SNSM and to always show up, when called upon.

Masterji, YOU will always remain in our hearts for being such a loving and a gentle Soul.  We will miss you very much, Masterji. Goodbye my friend

(Darshan Kaur, now dabbling in the media in Canada, had spent many years as an active volunteer with SNSM and other Sikh outfits in Malaysia)

 

RELATED STORY:

Former Naujawan Sabha chief Master Pritam Singh will be missed (Asia Samachar, 12 April 2021)

 

ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs / Punjabis in Southeast Asia and beyond. Facebook | WhatsApp +6017-335-1399 | Email: editor@asiasamachar.com | Twitter | Instagram | Obituary announcements, click here |

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