Last weekend, I had the fortuitous opportunity to be a sevadarni for Bhujangan Bay Area. The vision of Bhujangan seeks to create a space for young Kaurs to learn about their strong female Sikh history, leadership, and self-confidence. At Bhujangan Bay Area, 12 Kaurs from the ages of 11 to 17 came together to spend the weekend at a beautiful cabin overlooking the Santa Cruz coastline.
We started Friday evening with a workshop focused on Sikh women in history, setting the foundation for the themes of leadership, courage, and faith that would run throughout the weekend. The next morning started bright and early at 7am with Japji Sahib. For many of the girls, this was the first time they had ever done paath or even held a gutka. The act of reading gurbani was also a first, but it pushed girls out of their comfort zone in hopes of familiarizing them with the words and language of the baanis. Working through the shabad, “Man tu(n) jot saroophai, apna mul pachaan,” worked to solidify the most important takeaway of the retreat: there is a like, a jot, within each of us, and all we have to do is recognize it. The agency and power is within us. This simple but profound fact was reinforced later that day through leadership and value workshops and again the next day with self-image, self-love, and a self-expression workshop that featured a dance routine!
The weekend was packed with not only workshops, but a trip to the beach, adventures in a rock climbing gym, delicious food, and plenty of time to hang out and get to know each other. The retreat brought together girls from around the bay area to learn and to grow together. We created a community – a sisterhood. As sevadarnis, we hope that the girls will use us resources for advice on Sikhi, leadership, and challenges as they move through school. But if nothing else, we hope that we were able to spark in them an interest in Sikhi, in the power of equality, and in the understanding that each human, male or female, is unique, beautiful, and strong.
Through the workshops of the weekend, the girls and the sevadarnis were able to create and strengthen the connection between the female gender position and Sikhi. We all realized that if faced with any discrimination, hardship, bullying or obstacles in the world out there, we can call upon our Guru’s words to find the determination to keep our head up within ourselves.