Pin It
Friday, December 31st, 2010

Celebrating Guru Nanak’s Birthday at Gurdwara

By
mariaremeiballus - Fotolia.com

I don’t believe in the Beatles.

“I just believe in me.”

John Lennon had it right. Little did he know when he penned the lyrics to “God” in 1970 that he was echoing the very same sentiments that Guru Nanak, the founder and first Guru of the Sikh religion, professed nearly 500 years prior.

“There is neither Hindu nor Muslim. So whose path shall I follow? God is neither Hindu nor Muslim, and the path which I follow is God’s.” In a time when emphasis within religion was placed on dogma and devotion to external elements, Guru Nanak taught that God is within each of us and we need only relate to that inner voice. “Alone let him constantly meditate in solitude on that which is salutary for his soul, for he who meditates in solitude attains Supreme Bliss.”

I was raised with a balance of spiritual exposure and inspiration from Sikhism and Paramahansa Yogananda. Even though Yogananda is my Guru, I do not feel the need to choose one path. I believe all religions are different faces of the same God. Paramahansa Yogananda’s “Self Realization” teachings and those of Guru Nanak share the fundamental belief that God is not separate from any individual. One of my favorite quotes has always been: “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, but spiritual beings having a human experience.” Teaching my two-year-old daughter, Amrita, to tune into God within herself and develop her intuition and self trust, is the foundation of what I hope to pass on to her, spiritually speaking.

We recently celebrated Guru Nanak’s birthday at our nearby Gurdwara, the Sikh Temple. As a child I loved going to the Sunday Gurdwara service. Attending Gurdwara wasn’t something my parents expected of me, since they are disciples of Yogananda and not Sikhs, but they enjoyed going and felt connected to it. Being there, listening to and singing the Kirtan would fill me with inner peace and well being. I also really enjoyed the sense of community and joy.

Amrita and I attended Guru Nanak’s birthday dressed in our salwar kameezes and dupatas. She loves her Gurdwara clothing, and prances happily around the house all morning trying on different outfits. On the drive there she excitedly reminds me, “We are going to Gurdwara, Mama!” When entering the Gurdwara, one must cover their head out of respect when the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikhs, is out. Amrita proudly dons her pink cat-ear hat and is ready. We remove our shoes, have our feet washed in flower infused water, and I guide Amrita down the aisle to the Palki Sahib, a raised platform where a member of the community is reading from the Siri Guru Granth Sahib. We make an offering and bow to the ground, then join my mother-in-law seated on the floor amidst a crowd of kind, welcoming faces.

I like how Guru Nanak’s story relates to family life and raising a child. He was a very inquisitive child, concerned with the meaning of life, and would often engage Hindu and Muslim holy men in conversation. He disfavored ascetic practices and encouraged remaining inwardly connected to God whilst living as a householder. I can relate perfectly, never imagining myself giving up the chance to be a mother and wife to follow an ascetic lifestyle, but feeling a strong calling to live a life focused on spiritual growth.

I can tell that Amrita enjoys Gurdwara as well. It kind of amazes me that she will sit still peacefully as long as she does. She sways to the chanting and tries to join in. She is very comfortable exploring by herself, finding the other children and greeting adults she knows. When the time comes for the special children’s portion of the service, Amrita shyly goes up to stand with the rest of the kids where they sing a couple songs.

After Gurdwara, we all continue on to the langar hall, where langar, or ‘free kitchen’ is served. Sikh langar is another of Guru Nanak’s legacies. Fifteenth century India hosted a rigidly caste-ordered society. However, Guru Nanak founded Sikhism on the concept of equality between all people, regardless of religion, caste, colour, creed, age, gender or social status. Langar was designed to uphold this principle. At langar, as in Gurdwara, all people sit together on the floor so that no one is put above another. Members of the community volunteer in what is known as Seva, or service, to prepare and serve the meal. The essence of langar promotes the ethics of sharing, community, inclusiveness and oneness of all humankind.

During our meal, Amrita periodically wanders off with her friends through the rows of people, receiving choice tidbits and greetings. I can sit comfortably and enjoy my meal, occasionally catching glimpses of my little one in the sea of silk and sequins. This is definitely one of the fantastic parts of being part of a community such as this one. Everyone looks out for the children and knows who they are. The kids have their own little society, knit together in a web of community. I love that they will most likely know one another for their whole lives.

© 2010 – 2013, Alessandra Dobrin Khalsa. All rights reserved.

More Great Stuff You'll Love:


Primary School Privilege

Time outs due to whistling versus school's out due to poverty

How My Chinese Mother-in-Law Replaced my Husband

And why this is the number one fight in our household

Ramadan Star and Moon Craft

A craft recycled from your kid's art work!

Language Resource Library for Raising Bilingual Kids

The most comprehensive list of language learning resources

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Alessandra Dobrin Khalsa was raised in New York and Amsterdam. She is a filmmaker and writer, and a co-founder of SeeThrough Films and Prana Projects. Alessandra lives in Santa Fe, NM, with her daughter Amrita, stepson Siri and her husband Ditta. Their approach to parenting draws on their backgrounds of Sikh tradition and yogic technology.

Leave us a comment!

1 Comment
  1. CommentsHarpreet Kaur   |  Tuesday, 11 January 2011 at 8:11 pm

    Guru Nanak brought revolution in the minds of the average people and women. In Sikhism, women never had to ask for equal status as Guru Nanak wrote about the greatness of a woman. He spent more than 20 years travelling the world on foot spreading the message that there is only one God.









Notify me of follow-up comments via e-mail.
Or leave your email address and click here to receive email notifications of new comments without leaving a comment yourself.

Get weekly updates right in your inbox so you don't miss out!



A Children's Book for Raising Global Citizens

Every life is a story. It’s easier to understand someone when you know their story.

Why I Travel 13 Hours Alone with My Kids Every Chance I Get

Travelling with children, while definitely more of a mission, contradicts the old saying that “life is about the journey, not the destination.”

A Diverse Book for Preschoolers in Celebration of Multicultural Children's Book Day

A book that honestly and simply celebrates the every day diversity that children experience.

Why My African Feminist Mother Gave Me the Identity of My Father's Tribe

She gave me an identity so different from her own.

2 Children’s Books about Jamaica

Explore Jamaica with your child.

Costa Rica with Kids: Two Weeks of Family Travel

Two weeks of Pura Vida in a country with so much to offer families.

Should I Worry about My Child's Accent in Her Foreign Language?

See why Dr. Gupta takes offense to this question and where children learn accents from

How to raise trilingual kids when exposure to Dad's language is limited

My kids only get 1-2 hours of the minority language per day-help!
For quite sometime, whenever there were articles that surfaced the internet concerning whether it was appropriate to breastfeed in public, I was so baffled. As a Mongolian, I was so shocked that som...
From Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan
For quite some whenever there was articles circulated on the internet concerning whether it is appropriate to breastfeed in public. As a Mongolian, I was so shocked that some countries considered i...
From Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan
I live with my Czech in laws with my four children and my Czech is crap I try to learn but the baby doesn't sleep well I'm a constant zombie and the brain just doesn't work. Plus being tired makes m...
From How I Reclaimed My House from My Mother-in-Law
I am so glad I found this site. I am happy to see that I am not alone in experiencing 'family issues' after getting married. I am not from the West but I am married to a Canadian. I never truly unde...
From How I Reclaimed My House from My Mother-in-Law
[…] my most favourite article about breastfeeding called Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan by Ruth Kamnitzer. I have no doubt that Mongolians would find our social stigmas around [R...
From Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan
[…] sources and reasons for the rules of these countries too, such as China, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Iceland, and Hungary (see above re “Titanic”).  Has anyone got s...
From International Baby Naming Laws–Are They a Good Thing?
[…] Source Inculture Parents […...
From Lotus Lanterns for Wesak (Buddha Day)
If your nerves shat down your hormones , can you get pregnant by injecting a sperm in you to develop a baby . Please let me know...
From Baby-Making the Hindu Way
[…] Diwali Lantern from InCultureParent […...
From Diwali Craft: Make a Lantern

More The Religious Life of Children