325.The Man in Blue – Chaur Seva & Var Asa

Since the 13th of June I am back in Southall, where I started when I came to the UK in February 2000. But this time I am not lodging in the Park Avenue Gurdwara. I have a ‘humble abode’ positioned strategically halfway between the Park Avenue and the Havelock Road Singh Sabha Gurdwaré, and within walking distance of the Oswald Road (Ramgharia), the Guru Granth, the Nanak Darbar and the Guru Amar Das Gurdwaré. 


Southall is no paradise, but I can live here almost like the life I lived in Amritsar. I do not have to plan Gurdwara visits, I can just get up and go, and as the Park Avenue Gurdwara is next to the railway station it is easy to visit the Gurdwara on the way out or on my return.


In Amritsar I could see Harmandr Sahib from the roof of the house I lived in, here I can see the ‘golden dome’ of the Havelock Road Gurdwara from my window. Like in Amritsar there is a lot of human noise, but not much traffic or airplane noise (until the 3rd runway comes on stream).


Last Sunday I walked to Havelock Road Gurdwara and arrived in time for the start of the Ásá dí Vár. One of the sevadars asked me to do chaur seva, and I sat with the Guru Granth Sahib, listening to and partly singing along with the Vár in Rág Ása.


There was not a lot of sangat in the diván, but a steady trickle of people came in to pay their respect to our Eternal Teacher. The Rágí Singhs (where are the Rágí Kaurs ?) were doing a good job, not just singing nicely, they gave the impression that they believed in what they were doing.


And I was filled with feelings of love and peace, love for all and at peace with all. That is no mean achievement, as my life is in some turmoil at the moment. It was not through my efforts that I felt love and peace, it was the Gurbání and the Sangat that brought this about.   


What I am trying to tell you is that I thoroughly enjoyed myself, leaving Havelock Road after having too much breakfast, and ready to tackle whatever life throws at me.     


If you know what Gurdwáré are about, if you are familiar with Gurbání and its teachings, Gurdwáré can be great places to be in. It helps if you are an elderly male (greybeard) wearing a traditional outfit.


Those that know me are aware of the fact that I am often critical of the management of the Hounslow Singh Sabha Ltd. But I do acknowledge that Mr Sohi and friends do run their enterprise in a professional manner. Of course not much is done to help youngster who are on the path, nothing is done to teach One God, One Granth, One Panth and One Rehat Maryada.

Published in: on June 21, 2008 at 3:29 pm  Leave a Comment  
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323.The Man in Blue – Last Post and Ardas, Ieper May 25 2008

Every evening at 8 pm the Last Post is sounded at the Menen Gate in Ieper. On special days like the 11th of November or bank holidays many will attend, on other days there might be only a few locals, but the Last Post is played and a minute silence is observed regardless.


As part of the special Sikh event on May 25 we were allowed to do a two minute prayer during this evening ceremony. I prepared and submitted a special Ardás, and supplied the organisers with a text.


I sang (with the Sangat) the original text of Tú Thakur Tum Pi Ardás, and gave the ‘Sikhí to the Max’ translation as underneath to the organisers. I recited the first part of the standard Ardás (text from SRM) in Panjabi, which I translated myself (see below). As there were many British people present and Sikhs from different European countries, I decided to do the part of the Ardás specific to the occasion in English. The full text (including translations) was available for interested members of the public.


Note that although I wrote the second part, I have followed the pattern of the standard Ardás. Please let me know what you think of our effort.     


Tú Thakur Tum Pi Ardás : You are our Lord and Master; to You, I offer this prayer. This body and soul are all Your property. You are our mother and father; we are Your children. In Your Grace, there are so many joys ! No one knows Your limits. O Highest of the High, Most Generous God, the whole creation is strung on Your thread. That which has come from You is under Your Command. You alone know Your state and extent. Nanak, Your slave, is forever a sacrifice. ||8||4||


Ardás : The One All-Powerful and All-Pervading. The victory belongs to the Wonderful Enlightener. Respected adorable God help us ! Ode to the adorable God by the 10th Master. Remember the primal adorable God, then remember Guru Nanak. Then remember Guru Angad, Amardas and Ram Das, they will protect us. Remember Arjan, Hargobind and the respected Har Rai.

Remember respected Har Kishan, seeing whom all pain goes. Remember Teg Bahadur, and the nine treasures will rush to you. He will protect you everywhere. The Tenth Master, respected Guru Gobind Singh will protect you everywhere. Read, meditate on and get support from the light of the Ten Gurus, the respected Guru Granth Sahib. All say Vahiguru, Vahiguru [Wonderful Enlightener] !


Sadh Sangat Jio [Respected True Congregation], we have come together here in Ieper to remember our forefathers who gave their lives for the right of people here in Belgium and other European countries to live in peace, to enjoy freedom. They followed Guru’s teachings and the example set by so many others in our history. Vahiguru [Wonderful Enlightener] We ask you for the strength of your Nám, that we will always keep to your path ! All say : Vahiguru, Vahiguru. May we remain humble, and may God give us wisdom ! You are the honour of the honourless, you are the power of the powerless, the shelter of the shelterless, True Father Vahiguru. Fulfil the objectives of all. May we meet those beloveds that make us meditate on your Nám. Says Nanak, the Nám is the positive force, the welfare of all is in Your Will. Vahiguru Ji Ka Khalsa [The Khalsa is with Vahiguru]

Vahiguru Ji Ki Fateh

[The victory is with Vahiguru]


Published in: on June 14, 2008 at 11:22 am  Leave a Comment  
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322.The Man in Blue – Ieper May 2008



Since Vaisakh 1999 when European Sikhs together with the City of Ieper organised a big celebration of 300 years Khalsa, I have been involved in the remembrance of the Sikh soldiers of the British Indian Army who gave their lives for the freedom of Belgium and other European countries.


The Lahore and Meerut Divisions of the British Indian Army were in North Western France and South Western Belgium from October 1914 till October 1915. These soldiers, like others on both sides of the conflict, had to fight in appalling conditions and there were many casualties. The survivors often lost arms or legs, or ended up with other disabling injuries.


For many of the soldiers that survived it raised their political awareness. They wanted at the very least to be full citizens of the Empire for which they sacrificed the best years of their lives. They soon found out that white Empire citizens were more equal than the brown or black ones. 


Sikhs join the 11th of November Armistice in Ieper each year, but this May 25 May event was

organised by a group of Sikhs operating under the name of Sikh Worldwide Organisation for Remembrance Days. For Sikhs who live in continental European countries, that have no common history with the Sikhs, it is an important way of putting themselves on the map. The day was attended by about 300 Sikhs/people of Sikh background from Italy, Switzerland, Spain, France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and the UK.


In the morning we started with a meeting at the place where the British Indian Troops were deployed for the first time in 1914. The narrow country lanes were jam-packed with cars and coaches, and local traffic, even pushbikes, had trouble getting past. Apart from the Sikhs there were representatives of the City of Ieper, including our good friend Domeniek Dendooven, who truly deserves to be called an honorary sardar !   


I had put together a specially adapted Ardas, about which I will write in my next article. I recited the Ardas during this morning session and again in the evening at the Menen Gate in Ieper itself. Otherwise there were as per usual too many speeches. I do not like speeches very much, and spent my time talking to other non-lovers of speeches.


In the afternoon there was a cultural programme on the Grote Markt in central Ieper, with gatka, bhangra and gidha. I spoke to a number of local people and British tourists who were curious to know what was going on. We also handed out leaflets about Sikhí, Sikhs and their history. It was a good opportunity to increase awareness.


In my next article I will write about the daily Last Post ceremony at the Menen Gate and about the ardas that was said on the occasion.

Published in: on June 7, 2008 at 6:18 pm  Leave a Comment  
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This is the first day of the rest of my life

Dear Readers,

Vahiguru Ji Ka Khalsa  Vahiguru Ji Ki Fateh

I am 61 and have just entered a new phase in my life, which is as good an excuse for starting a blog as any I have ever heard.

I write a column called The Man in Blue, which will be regularly posted on this blog. Apart from that I want to get in the habit of writing a public diary of what I have been up to, interesting meetings I had and so on and so forth. My first project will be posting a simple introduction to Sikhi, including some pictures of me in full Sikh outfit.

I am a Sikh, a Dutchman, live in West London where many other Sikhs live too, but my work brings me to all corners of London, and also recently to Scunthorpe, Grimsby, Ipswich, Penrith, Stockton-on-Tees etc etc.

Today I went to Slough to talk to somebody working for the borough council about involving the Sikh, Muslim and Hindu community of Slough in ‘Green Projects’. The person I talked to was 20 years younger than me, but we had a lot in common otherwise, and it was very nice talking to him. More as and when the project progresses (or fails …).

I also went flat hunting in Southall, and found a place that would be ok, right in between the two Singh Sabha Gurdware.

This is the start, more to come, watch this space !

Harjinder Singh

Published in: on June 6, 2008 at 5:20 pm  Leave a Comment  
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