Ever wonder how some people have this passion, this aurora, this fire that burns so bright? It is the excitement in their voice when they are sharing their work or something they care so much about. It is the smile or sometimes the serious look. It is gesturing of hands in anxiousness to get their thoughts across. It is an accumulation of everything you see, you feel, and you hear. I think it’s just beautiful to witness it and to feel it yourself. I’ve been fortunate, that’s all I can say. I found community in the people around me wherever I went. Don’t get me wrong, I did face many hurdles- from people saying I was too Sikh or not Sikh enough. However, I had parents who cultivated a strong foundation for me and allowed for my curiosity to grow, well within limits they are Punjabi after all. (Mom & Dad I’ll never be able to repay you for all that you have sacrificed. Thank you to all the parents who have provided for their children and continue to do so). My pillars of support have taught me to face the challenges, at times with a smile and other times with tears, and not hide or walk away. That spark I talk about. I found it while I was in undergrad through my education and extracurriculars. I found it in being a Sikh, a learner. I recognized and allowed it to grow through the Jakara Movement, my sangat in California, and my education. I pushed myself to new heights, tested uncomfortable boundaries, and sailed waters I never thought I would. I mean, did we ever think growing up we would have an all girls’ Sikh leadership retreat that talks about social justice, issues girls face growing up, Sikhi, and so much more? Bhujangan was established in the beautiful summer of 2012. Did we ever think of trying to connect Sikh high school students or for there to be a Sikh high school conference? Nishaan and the Sikh Honors and Service Society were a reality earlier this year and last. Did I ever think a Sikh organization would be fully functional with local chapters and multiple full-time employees? Honestly, I never even know you could work for a Sikh nonprofit or that this was a priority our community saw there to be. But it was all possible and is possible. I sit here smiling and my screen because I have to reel myself in before I get too excited about talking about the real impact we are making (yes, you included). All of this, it starts from sparks. Sparks of excitement, activism and conversations that lead to actions. It is a spark that allows us to not feel like work is work and allows us to stay up into the late hours of the night without thinking about the sleep we are missing out on. I continue to find that spark at each new corner because I believe we all have the ability to make a difference with our actions. Small or large, it has an impact. You know why? Because you never know where you might just spark someone else’s passions. Here’s to continuing the conversations and doing the work that makes us happy.
Jakara Juniors aimed to teach kids the history of Vaisakhi through story telling of Khande di Pahul, teaching the youth the Sikh identity and the importance of seva, selfless service. We aspire that the kids take this knowledge and history of Sikhi along with the values of vand shakna (sharing) to the world outside the Gurdwara. As a first time facilitator, I found myself learning while helping the kids come to their own conclusions on what physical and spiritual attributes a Sikh embodies, how seva can be incorporated in the outside work and how Guru Gobind Singh Ji taught us the act of humbleness. I was amazed to see how involved the kids would get with the various activities, which were successful in occupying them while learning something as well. Overall, Jakara Juniors proved to be a successful experience. - Gurprit Kaur is a first time Jakara Juniors volunteer
Waheguru Ji Ka KhalsaWaheguru Ji Ke Fateh Dear Jakara Movement Community and Sevadar/nis, I am humbled and very excited to join the ranks of the Jakara Movement as a staff member serving as the next Northern California Community Organizer. To share a little bit about myself, I was born and raised in Fresno, California and it was there when I first learned about the Jakara Movement in 2005 while witnessing a kids camp centered around the theme of Creating Kartarpur. Although I did not volunteer at the camp I was awestruck and inspired by the teachings of Sikhi and by the confidence of the volunteers. Never would I have guessed that in 2010 after being discharged from the Marines I too would be a part of this same movement. Read more
Sometimes it’s nice to be reminded that despite age or experience in life, we are all living – breathing – humans, who question everything. The recent Jakara Juniors at Glen Rock Gurdwara did just that – fostering real, intellectual discussions in collaborative, group settings. I had forgotten just how fresh the minds of our younger Sikh brothers and sisters are. Topics we addressed ranged from Visakhi to Seva to poetry, from bullying to handling one’s emotions to women in Sikhi - and finally - from learning about the Sikh way of to then applying it to our individual lives. The fluidity of our group conversations with such young kids was inspiring – sometimes they need these kinds of smaller breakaway camps more than we do. It gives them a platform where they can intellectually try to analyze Sikhi, they can share stories about themselves, and most importantly, they can share their IDEAS and brainstorm in a safe, welcoming environment. Two hands on project ideas that really stood out to me were the shabad translations as well as the seva project. Read more
On Thursday, June 25, 2015, I traveled to Chicago to attend Lalkaar 2015 – Midwest edition. I also had the privilege of being a facilitator for the conference focused on Guru Granth Sahib Ji. As soon as I landed, I was taken to the hotel to start facilitator training for the weekend. There, I met other facilitators where we bonded and starting connecting to Guru Sahib together. After training ended, we met the other participants through icebreakers, which lead to enjoying Rahraas Sahib together and of course, my first experience with the one and only, real, amazing Chicago Pizza from Giordano’s. On Friday, June 26, 2015, the conference material officially started as we traveled to University of Chicago campus to have diwaan and start the workshops. The first workshop focused on the structure and format of Guru Granth Sahib Ji called “Know your Guru”. This was the participants’ first chance to interact with Gurbani’s structure as a group. After a yummy lunch, the participants had another workshop called Music of the Guru. The last workshop for Friday was called “Court of the Guru”, which took place in the diwaan hall in front of Guru Sahib. This was one of my favorite workshops because as a sangat, we discussed physical barriers to the Guru Granth Sahib Ji within our gurdwaras, our homes, our faith, etc. The workshop became more of a discussion with everyone speaking as the sadhsangat in front of Guru Sahib and to Guru Sahib. The night ended with a banquet for participants to dance, hang out and spend time with their new Midwest sangat. Read more
Join the Movement as the Northern California Community Organizer The Jakara Movement with the Guru’s Nadir (Grace), seva of our volunteers, and the baksh (benediction) of the Sangat is pleased to announce our fourth employment position. We are seeking a Northern California Community Organizer to help develop the gambit of Jakara Movement programs and chapters (misls). Position Title: Community Organizer Organizational Relationship: Reporting to the Executive Director General Summary: The Jakara Movement Community Organizer will recruit, develop, retain and train volunteers, help them organize communities through local chapters, and implement community campaigns, programs, events, and actions. Read more
Physical fitness is a very important aspect of a persons life. Staying fit and healthy will not only make you feel better about yourself, but it will help you out in the long run. It prevents getting serious diseases and health issues such as, type two diabetes and obesity. Exercising doesn't always have to be boring or hard. You can always just go for a bike ride, a walk, roller skating, or play your favorite sports for about thirty minutes to an hour per day and that will do it! Being physically fit also means eating healthier. Sometimes it's better to choose the apple rather than the candy bar. When you decide to change your eating and exercising habits you change as an individual. You start feeling more confident, become more outgoing, and your surrounded by more positive vibes. Being healthy leads to stronger bones, healthier heart and a happier you. (: Chaman Kaur is a student at Livingston High School and wrote this blog after the Sports Day in Livingston.
Kaur Voices was an amazing experience. It was an eye-opening event and I learned a lot about the experiences of others in the Sikh community. This was my first time attending and I loved it. My favorite part of the event was hearing about topics that aren't commonly addressed in the community. Overall, this event provided a lot of positive insight and I will definitely attend again in the future. Jasminn Bling is a college student in Sacramento and active member of Misl Sacramento.