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.
On Saturday, June 27, 2015, we again traveled to University of Chicago’s campus to have diwaan and start our first workshop for the day called “Mouth of the Guru”, where participants worked together in their groups to complete the Gurbani line-by-line translation of the Mundavni shabad that is sung at the end of Rahraas Sahib. (“Thaal Vich Tin Vasthoo Payo”) I enjoyed this workshop because everyone has a different interpretation of Gurbani, which amazes me that Gurbani affects all of us differently in life. After this, we had a guest speaker, Gurpreet Kaur from Sikhri, who spoke beautifully about reinterpreting culture through music songs and shabads to help us connect to Gurbani/Punjabi language. Gurpreet Kaur did an excellent job relating to the participants (age range: 18-28) and interacting with all of us. We then broke for lunch followed by a more creative workshop reflecting on “Sat, Santokh and Veechaar” or truth, contentment and reflection, in which we reflected on three different shabads. We related this back to our own communities at home and how we can implement this in our own lives. This workshop led into the final group workshop, where each group created an idea and action plan to implement at home, in their own communities when they leave the conference. Additionally, each participant met in smaller groups with other participants from their same region (West Coast, East Coast, Midwest) to discuss what can be implemented and how they can work together to create change. For me, the biggest take away is that by connecting with others with similar interests who also have a love for Sikhi, anything is possible to overcome. The night ended with exploring downtown Chicago and a talent show in Millenium Park.
The final day arrived on Sunday, June 28, 2015 as the participants had their final diwaan (after waking up late!) and conclusion to the conference. All in all, I loved this conference and enjoyed every workshop and fun activity that Jakara Conference organized for us. I also enjoyed meeting everyone, who came from all across the country to discuss the Guru Granth Sahib: History of the Sikh Soul. I would definitely return for future conferences, and would recommend to my friends in this age group to join as well.