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In Jalandhar: Postcards From The Road

In fact here we were doing kirtan in the Guru's sangat....

February 11, 2015: It was a pleasant surprise receiving an invitation to do kirtan in Jalandhar, Punjab.

It was at the 64th Annual Basant Panchami Mela at the Baba Buddha Trust, Nirmal Takht, village Dakoha, Jalandhar.

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Dya Singh with youngest daughter Parvyn
This is the first time that our 'main' group has been invited for kirtan in Punjab. Previously, we have only done kirtan at all the major gurdwaras in Delhi during the 400th anniversary of the parkash of the Adi Granth in 2004. Then, again, at the invitation of the World Punjabi Organisation.

I was assured that our hosts wanted our full 'foreign' group and the 'sound' from our recorded albums. The organisers assured us that their 'children' only like to hear our brand of kirtan! So we descended on the simple country folk of Jalandhar, children from schools from and around jalandhar, plus guests from as far away as Delhi, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Kapurthala, and even Pathankot!

click here for a list of Dya Singh's music 

This 'takht' is associated with childbirth -- as would naturally be expected of our reverent Baba Buddha, and the birth of Guru Hargobind. They attract couples -- in typical Indian fashion! -- who are barren and praying for a family, and even those who have opted for in vitro fertilisation. So much so, that the two sons of the resident Bhai Sahib, Bhagwant-Bhajan Singh, are both western qualified medical doctors.

As per Baba Buddha, there is great 'charrahva' (offerings) and parshad of 'missiaan roteean' and onions.

I was forewarned by some (I’m sure, well-wishing) 'kharrkus' who came especially to warn me that by performing here I might be sidelining myself from the 'mainstream'. They were very gracious though when I informed them that I had come to do 'kirtan haazri'. That since I have been doing so in western concerts, folk, arts, new age, multicultural and multifaith concerts globally, then how was this any different?

Furthermore, the fact that my 'jatha' was not allowed to do kirtan haazri at Darbar Sahib, Amritsar, then I am side-lined anyway.

In fact here we were doing kirtan in the Guru's sangat. I was so glad when they stayed on to listen to our kirtan and left after some very warm hugs.

Though the weather in January was bad, the enthusiasm of the huge crowd, the sewa, the joy, the laughter, the fun, was all such a heart-warming sight. The village was overrun by thousands. Dr. Puneet Singh Gill, who is the older son of Bhai Bhagwant Bhajan Singh, told me that as many as 100,000 arrive on the main day. He informed us that there are over 300 sevadars just helping with the traffic flow.

Bhai Sahib himself spent the two days sitting in a tent tying dastaars on the heads of young Sikh boys and saying a prayer for each. No one was allowed to touch his feet. Boys were getting dastaar tied and then told to go and 'mathha tek' before Guru Granth Sahib where the divan was ongoing from 9 am to 4 pm.

Though a 'dera', Sikhi is practised and the focal point of all activities is the Guru Granth Sahib. This is 'primary' Sikhi at its best: about naam juppna, vund ke chhakna and kirat karni.

We do sometimes differentiate between what we consider the 'mainstream which follows the Maryada and the ‘fringe’ groups such as this one which fall outside it. But here, I saw love and Sikhi parchaar at the grass roots level.

Our 'team' for this joyful occasion was: Nepalese tabla player Dheeraj Shrestha on tabla, my youngest daughter Parvyn, her husband Josh on dilruba and guitar, and our sound engineer/musician Quentin on guitar and didgeridoo.

It was a great feeling doing kirtan with my original jatha and it was a joy doing kirtan here. Waheguru willing, our jatha shall get many more of such wonderful opportunities.

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Dya's son-in-law Josh on Dilruba and Guitar
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Nepalese tabla player Dheeraj Shrestha on tabla
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Sound engineer/musician Quentin on guitar and didgeridoo


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