Darbar-e-Khalsa (IIGS) Celebrated 345th Birthday of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji
Los Angeles, Dec. 25, 2011
On a glorious warm and sunny day with a clear blue sky overhead, the International Institute of Gurmat Studies (IIGS) at its annual event, Darbar-e-Khalsa, celebrated the 345th Birthday of Tenth Sikh Guru, Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji, at the Fairplex-La County Fairgrounds in California, USA on Sunday, December 25, 2011. The day began at 7:00AM with the Parkash (the ceremonial installation and the first reading) of Sri Guru Granth Sahib (the Sacred Holy Book of the Sikhs) in the main hall of the facility, which was elegantly decorated in bright gold color (a sacred color in Sikh tradition) for the special occasion.
The stage for Sri Guru Granth Sahib (the Sikh Holy Scripture) was professionally set up and decorated according to Sikh tradition. One could have a Darshan (cherished holy glimpse) of Guru Sahib from a distance as Sri Guru Granth Sahib was placed on a raised platform under a brocaded canopy at the head of a spacious hall on a large bedecked stage. The Sikhs venerate their Holy Scripture as a personification of the living and eternal spirit of the Ten Sikh Gurus.
The program began around 7:00AM with the Asa Di Vaar Kirtan (singing of sacred hymns) by Akhand Kirtani Jatha Bhai Gurmukh Singh Nirvair, Hazuri Ragi (Gurdwara Sis Ganj Sahib, Delhi, India). The Morning Prayer lasted until 9:00AM and was followed by Ardaas (prayerful supplication), Hukum Nama (reading of sacred message of the day from Sri Guru Granth Sahib), and distribution of Karah Parshaad (a specially prepared pudding) to the Sangat (congregation). This phase of the morning program began with Gurbani Shabad Kirtan by Bhai Daljit Singh Jammu Wale (Gurdwara Apple Valley); and by the Jatha of Bhai Sobha Singh (Gurdwara Norco). The children’s groups from Gurdwara Buena Park, Gurdwara Walnut, Santa Ana, Riverside, Khalsa Care Foundation, and Ujjal Didaar Memorial Foundation followed the professional ragis (religious singers).
Shabad Kirtan by various Ragi Jathas continued from 10:40AM; some of the Shabad singers included: Singhnia da Jatha (West Covina); Bhai Ravinder Singh Rasia (Buena Park Gurdwara ); Bibiyaan da jatha; Sikh Women Now Jatha, IIGS Youth Group; Bhai Hardev Singh and group; Guru Ram Das Ashram (Los Angeles). The program continued with Shabad Kirtan by Bhai Gurdeep Singh & Bhai Sucha Singh Jatha (Gurdwara Lankershim); Sardar Sarbjeet Singh & Group. There were speeches on the life and greatness of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji by Sardarni Nimarta Kaur and by Bhai Harnam Singh Ji Khalsa, Head Granthi, Gurdwara Bangla Sahib; and by the IIGS Jatha. Special tributes were made by Sardarni Gurpreet Kaur, Dr. Amarjit Singh Marwah, and Dr. Jaswant Singh Sachdev in memory of the Founder of IIGS, the late Kaptain K. H. Singh (affectionately known as “Papa ji”). The tribute included a special video presentation about respected “Papa ji.”
This year’s IIGS honorees were Bhai Gurmukh Singh Nirvair and Bhai Harnam Singh Khalsa. The highlight of the afternoon was Shabad Kirtan- a joint performance by five ragi jathas: IIGS Jatha, Bhai Raghbir Singh (G. Walnut), Prof Ranjit Singh (Bhai Mardana Academy), Bhai Anantvir Singh (Gurdwara Riverside), Bhai Varinder Singh (Khalsa Care Foundation) and Bhai Randhir Singh (Gurdwara Buena Park). While the religious program and ceremonies were going on inside the hall, outside was humming with food stalls serving snacks- tasty chana bhathuras, jalebis, gol guppa, sweets, tea, and other Indian dishes. A colorful bazaar offered all kinds of attractive merchandise and religious items: Indian clothing for men, women, and children; jewelry; religious books, Shabad Kirtan tapes, Karahs, Kanghas, Kirpans and Khandas, and other ceremonial and cultural products. The bazaar had the appearance and spirit of a Punjabi Mela. Around noon, devotees started coming in big groups. As in the past, this was another great celebration, and everyone enjoyed the day.
CEREMONIAL SEND OFF TO SRI GURU GRANTH SAHIB BY HELICOPTER
The closing ceremony of Darbar-e-Khalsa began at 3:30 PM. After Ardas, the program inside came to a close. As the Sawaari (ceremonial and reverential carrying) of Sri Guru Granth Sahib started to leave the Hall for the Khalsa Parade, the chanting of Wahe-Guru, Wahe-Guru (Wonderful Lord) filled the air. The Sadh Sangat (congregation) bowed down to the ground in complete reverence as Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji’s Palki (palanquin) passed by.
The Parade began with the beat of the Nagaara (Khalsa drum) and demonstration of Gatka (the Sikh martial arts). The Sikh children carrying Khalsa and American flags joyfully lined up to lead the Parade. The Parade covered a distance of about one-quarter mile to reach the helicopter.
Thousands of devotees in their multi-colored turbans and dupattas (the head coverings for Sikh women) walked reverentially behind Sri Guru Granth Sahib’s Golden Palki. The Panj Piaras (the Five Beloved Sikhs) escorted the Palki with overhead umbrellas, and the Sangat took turns to carry the Palki on their shoulders to the waiting helicopter.
Only a selected few members of the Sangat were allowed near the waiting helicopter. After a brief Ardas (prayer), the helicopter carrying Sri Guru Granth Sahib slowly lifted up into the air, and the space reverberated with thunderous Jaikaraas (exulted acclamations): Bole So Nihaal, Sat Sri Akaal (those who utter the sacred words: God is Eternal Truth, be filled with joy) by thousands of Sikh faithful gathered below.
This was a memorable annual celebration of the Dasmesh Gurpurab by NRIs in the Los Angeles area. Congratulations to the entire Sikh Diaspora on this anniversary of one the holiest days on the Sikh Calendar.