From January 3-5, Bhujangan, a Leadership Retreat aimed at young girls between the ages of 10 to 18 took place in Southern California’s San Bernardino Mountains. The second in California, and the first in Southern California, the retreat aimed at creating a platform for young Kaurs to discuss their roles in their families, their communities and the Panth. From Sikh History presentations to riveting conversation about “Man Thoo Joth Saroop Hai, Aapanaa Mool Pashhaan”, educational workshops discussing college and careers, self-confidence seminars and self-portrait paintings, the weekend was teeming with motivated Bhujangans who took advantage of the space that was provided to discuss all things Kaur.
One of the most interesting talks centered around the theme shabad of the weekend, “Man Thoo Joth Saroop Hai, Aapanaa Mool Pashhaan”. Many young Bhujangans were astonished at the progressive writings of our Gurus. The conversations revolved around the view that while the rest of their environments were embedded within a nexus of caste, subjugation, and inequality, here were the Gurus revealing that every person has a 'Jot' inside him/her and that each 'Jot' is not subject to the hierarchies of caste, creed, race or gender, but is rather a direct embodiment of the Divine.
Discussions and presentation on Sikh History allowed Bhujangans a lens into the historical place of women in Sikhi. There was awe and wonder at examples ranging from the penning of “Bhanddahu Hee Bhandd Oopajai Bhanddai Baajh N Koe” (From woman, woman is born; without woman, there would be no one at all) by Guru Nanak Dev Ji 500 years ago to the appointment of Bibi Amaro as a political head through the Manji System in Panjab, to the status of Mata Bhag Kaur as a Jarnail (general) in the Sikh Army.
The Bhujangans were given a space to discuss issues that specifically pertained to them as women in the Sikh community. A workshop was led in which every participant defined their name. This activity made many emotional as they tied the meanings of their names back to Gurbani and their relationship with Waheguru. Within these days, new friendships were formed, sisters were discovered, and the belief in the unity of Kaurs was solidified.