After a 5-year hiatus, the Jakara Movement re-introduced its theme of youth engagement in Sikh institutions at its annual Lalkaar conference. With Lalkaar 2013 on the West Coast wrapped up, and Lalkaar New York underway, a sevadar of the Jakara Movement takes a look back on the 2013 iteration of the conference, “The Revolution Will be Localized.” Read more
This year I went to the Lalkaar 2013 conference in Davis California. Lalkaar run by the Jakara Movement, a Sikh youth organisation, is now in its 14th year. This was by far the most interesting and inspiring Sikh educational event I have ever been to. Like many young Sikhs that grew up in the UK I failed to engage with the local Gurdwara, when it came to learning about Sikhi in an inclusive and non-judgemental environment. This gap in learning was filled by Sikh youth camps that sought to connect Sikh youngsters with the philosophy of the Sikh Way, but these too had their drawbacks. I came across the Jakara Movement on social media and my first impressions were of a progressive, interesting and established organisation. I remember when I first saw Lalkaar advertised I really wanted to go but it wasn’t possible. When I began planning my travel to the States this summer my plan was to attend Sidak, a two week intensive Sikh Studies course run by SikhRi in San Antonio, I had no plans of coming to Lalkaar. I spoke to my friend Narvir, who had attended Lalkaar previously and he had only positive things to say, I began seriously considering attending. My biggest worry was having a place to stay after Lalkaar. After I spoke to some of the sevadars, they connected me with other individuals that said they could house me. That’s when I packed my bags. Read more
This year at Lalkaar-CA 2013 we are pleased to introduce a new smart phone application. We hope participants will download it and use it during the conference. Share pictures, talk to each other (hopefully not during sessions!), and stay connected to the movement. Here are some screen shots - download it here and share your thoughts! http://my.yapp.us/4G7W38
Preparations for Lalkaar California are underway! Facilitators are in training sessions. Staff and committee are finalizing last minute details, prepping for tomorrow and the weekend. Months of planning, hours of conference calls, email threads for days all comes down to this - its game time!
Immediately after the attack on Baba Piara Singh, local Misl Fresno members got into action. That Wednesday during a Press Conference and Q&A session with the Chief of Police and State prosecutor’s, Misl Fresno volunteers booked the Darbar Sahib at Nanak Sar Gurdwara, a gurdwara where Baba Piara Singh did his seva, for a Sukhmani Sahib dha paath. In moments of stress, fear and anger its important for us to pause, even if for a moment, to center ourselves before carrying on with whatever lies ahead. Also for those older members of our community who don’t have the same access to resources, it’s important for them to see a sense of community and support. While sitting down and reflecting on my own thoughts and feelings and dissecting every approach on how to help the community, while at the same time feeling angry, stressed, my conscience would arise from the flurry of thoughts and emotions and silence my mind. For those few moments I would smile during Sukhmani Sahib and focus on the stillness within me and Bani and knew that we would survive. Having talked to the family members of Baba Piara Singh I knew he would be all right. As I looked up, I scanned the darbar sahib and seen dozens of Sikhs of all backgrounds sitting doing Sukhmani Sahib, together. As soon as we had finished and did ardaas for the Chardi Kala of our community, Baba Piara Singh and his family, we all moved from the Darbaar Sahib and into another room for our Town Hall meeting. The idea being - no one would be excluded from the conversation; everyone would have a voice on how to address these types of attacks and tackling the ignorance that exists within the community. Read more
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. Read more
We’ve been publicizing, interviewing, tabling & spreading the word about the ‘Know Your Neighbor’ event here in Fresno. What we noticed during this time was very few paid attention to the why. Yes, you knew we were going to make pizza at Nanak Prakash Gurdwara on Thursday and you knew we were going to deliver over 200 pizzas to neighbors near Nanak Sar between 5 and 7pm. However, did you know why? When we hande out flyers to the sangat at gurdwaras throughout Fresno we tried our best to let you know the purpose of the event-to know our neighbors and serve langar to those who actually need it. During this time we received negative feedback and were told this event was not really going to make a difference. We still pushed on because deep down we knew it was serving the original purpose of the institutions. The youth of Fresno spent the last two weeks dedicating a number of hours to coordinate the details of the ‘know your neighbor’ initiative. We want to be sure that we are clear in our ‘why.’ We are doing this to serve the real purpose of langar-to those who really need it. My parents always mentioned vand ke chakna (to share our resources), so why aren’t our doors open to the community that needs it? Does a person have to be Sikh to eat langar-I don’t think so. Bhai Ghanaiya served the opposing army during the time of Guru Gobind Singh Ji & Guru Sahib embraced his kind actions, as he ultimately understood the true meaning of seva. Yet, what do we do? We think seva is constricted in the four walls of our gurdwaras or homes. Now that’s not what I’ve understood. And, believe me, if you walked the neighborhood as I did you would see these are the families that need it much more than we do. The bright smiles and cheers of the children, happy they were getting pizza on Thursday. The gesture of gratitude from the parents as they wouldn’t have to worry about what to make for dinner. This is where the community is struggling. This is where it is needed. This is when I realized we need there is much more we can be doing and should be doing. Now for those of you who might be wondering how does this connect to Sardar Piara Singh, I promise it does. While going door to door we showed our presence in this community. A community where land prices are cheap. A community where we build our gurdwaras. A community where we don’t have many Sikhs present. I’m not saying it’s okay for hate crimes to occur, but we come to gurdwara in a neighborhood where we don’t interact with or know the people. We make no effort to know them or let them know who we are. That’s what we are trying to change. We’re not saying this will solve all of our problems. But what we do hope is the next time one of our neighbors can’t put food on the table s/he knows s/he can always find a meal at the gurdwara. We also hope when Sikhs need support our neighbors will stand by us. We know this isn’t the only way, but it is a way & it is effective. If you’ve got another idea let us know! We’d love to implement it with your help. So now that you know the why, you have the option to read this and continue on with your daily life or actually help to make adifference. Join us when we do this in a neighborhood near you!
After the catastrophic event that occurred this past Sunday to Sardar Piara Singh, I was devastated and wretched. But in reaction to this event, Misl Fresno and the Sikh Community of Fresno took action and planned a, “Know Your Neighbors Event” on May 13th. This event was planned to go out to our neighbors around the Gurdwara and pass out pizza and invite our fellow neighbors to come to the Gurdwara and educate them about Sikhism. The “Know Your Neighbor Event” really challenged my abilities to face a new situation to react to those that I thought I could not face due to social status and the area they lived in. In addition as we walked down the of North Ave, having dogs barking at us, and watching people stare us down was a bit scary, but after visiting my first house that I delivered pizza too, gave me a whole different feeling about who these people initially are. What I mean by this is, going up to the first family and hearing their thoughts about the event was truly a blessing because they were apologizing for what Gilbert Garcia did because as their own community they were affected, and no community would ever want that to happen to any human being. They were saying “sorry” and thanking us that we were inviting them and were really happy and one person said, “Your My Brother From Another Mother”, which I was happy to hear. This event really made me connect with other ethnicities out there, share our stories about what happens in there and in our culture. We have seen this kind of event that happened to Piara Singh occur in many different places but as a Sikh Community, if we do not take action for what occurred and stand up when we will get JUSTICE for hate crime acts that are happening to any community out there. In addition we have invited all communities throughout Fresno to come to an open at Gurdwara Nanaksar on Cherry Ave, and take a tour around the Gurdwara and get to know one another. Get to Know Your Neighbors, come and join us on Tuesday May 21st at Gurdwara Nanaksar. We Hope To See You There! In Chardi Kala, Jovanjit Singh Rakkar
After the tragic event this past Sunday, I was sad and angry, but most of all I was inspired. Chardi kalaa, is a phrase that is often used during times like these, but Piara Singh displayed a perfect example of high-soaring spirits, and his attitude shaped mine. It’s easy to play the victim in any situation but it takes dedication to actually do something about it. The “Know Your Neighbor” Initiative consists of four main steps. Our first step was the town hall meeting to get our community on the same page and to also hear their voices. The next step was passing out flyers on Monday, May 13th to inform the community that we will be delivering pizzas on Thursday. Passing out flyers was a definite step out of my comfort zone. After a couple of houses I realized that almost every house on the block had a dog, a guard dog. These dogs were protecting their houses, while my dog plays in my backyard. Walking on dead grass, stepping over clutter in front of the doors, and knocking on broken doors made me realize that this is the side of Fresno that needs help. I went up to each door with a sense of fear, not knowing what to expect but the people I spoke to were very kind and receptive, saying “sorry” and “thank you” multiple times, as most of them had Sikh friends. We can do multiple community outreach programs but it’s time for us to reach out to the communities ourselves. We’ve opened a new book with this community, they’ve given us their trust and it’s our job to protect it. The third step to this initiative is taking place on Thursday as we deliver the pizzas, we will also invite them to an open house, which is the fourth step. Get to Know Your Neighbors, join us on Thursday May 16th! In Chardi Kalaa, Haneet Kaur.
Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa; Waheguru Ji Ke Fateh Dear All Jakara Volunteers - Past, Present, and Future! It is with humility and excitement that I get to formally join the Jakara Movement as the first Community Organizer. As an active volunteer for over the past five years, I have had the opportunity to see the shift the organization has taken and the amount it has grown. During this same period, I have grown, learned, and hopefully matured. For those that have been with me during this process, I thank you for your patience and for those that will be joining me in the future, I can only assure you that I will continue to strive to improve, based on your kindness and feedback. As the future looks very exciting for the Jakara Movement, I take the time to reflect that this has only been possible due to a committed sevadar base, who share their passion, time, and energy. I am truly excited about the new opportunities ahead. Although my responsibilities with the organization will begin to shift, I hope you all will remain patient and supportive as I learn the new ropes. Please share your advice, suggestions, and even jokes during this transition process. After the last five years in LA, I am excited to be moving back up to Northern California and reuniting with all the volunteers - past, present, and future - and providing resources to help them realize their dreams within the community. Thank you everyone! In eternal optimism (chardikala),Palvinder Kaur Read more