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'Mata Ji' to the Khalsa kids

She once explained to me, "A lot of times the elders try to get involved with how the gurdwara should be run and co...

Events come and go but stories are timeless.

When we were young, we all heard stories, some we remember and re-tell them as adults, allowing them to live on. This is a short description of how one auntie ji told stories to children who are now adults (me), and some of her stories are now being animated for yet another generation. 

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I was born in raised in Albuquerque New Mexico (yes, it's in the US). 

There was a small Sikh community, in a few blocks radius was several Sikh households. One block up the street from my house was a bigger house that would host gurdwara in the unit in their back yard. Another block up was where I went to a day care center for Khalsa kids, which was also open to other children. This was in the house of Guru Meher Kaur Khalsa and her husband who we just called Baba Ji. Behind the scenes this white bearded and stern man cooked food for the kids and built custom wood furniture for the center. We didn't know this, we just thought he was grumpy.

She was from a catholic family? She became a Sikh in her 20's? She met her husband before becoming Sikhs? 

I didn't know their history when I was a little kid in their daycare center. I just knew she was full of patience and nurturing, she was the archetypal gramma. I do have vague memories of being there: 

A very small episode that somehow left an impression was when I got bitten by a particularly strong fire ant. They can hurt you as an adult, for a toddler it's an even bigger issue! When I went to her for help, she broke the thick leaf off a plant she had grown nearby and rubbed the cooling goo on the bite. It instantly felt better. That's how I learned about the healing property of aloe vera. It's amazing how we learn lessons when we're young that we never forget! 

One of the first memories of the day care was when I asked auntie Guru Meher Kaur her age. As a near toddler, I was very familiar with old I am, "I'm four and one quarter!" (I don't remember exactly what age I was at this time... I'm too old to remember stuff like this!) Well, when I asked her age... she didn't know off the top of her head, "Well know let me think about it...". This was a surprise to any young child! Then when she started trying to figure it out it was downright hilarious, "It's 1988 right now, hmmmm... " As she took her time doing whatever math she had to do in her head we were laughing, "..so I must be 56 now...". Then she corrected herself, "Oh wait, no, I'm 57". We laughed even harder. These were numbers I couldn't even fathom at the time. For me she has perpetually been a timeless grandma. 

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Fast forward about 2 decades and she now lived in a smaller town with a larger Sikh population. One fine day she gathered all the youngest children and told them stories of Guru Nanak. SikhNet recorded this session and later released them as 9 different audio stories. These were classic episodes like Guru Nanak in the river, sacha sauda, the cobra providing shade, the crops being restored etc. These were some of the first audio stories that helped launch the stories section of SikhNet. They have now been enjoyed by sangat from around the world for more than 10 years. 

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This month, more than 3 decades since I was a child in her daycare center, I am happy to announce we are releasing an animated version of one of her stories: 'Guru Nanak and the True Prayer' which teaches us about the importance of being sincere when we do our prayers. 

Mata Gurumeher Kaur, and the family she created, have always been prominent in the community, with strongly dedicated Sikhs and sevadars. At some point she was deemed to be the 'Divine Mata Ji' of the community. She once explained to me, "A lot of times the elders try to get involved with how the gurdwara should be run and control everything. But actually, we elders are just supposed to be quiet. We just need to sit back, give blessings and tell stories".

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Gurumeher Kaur with grand daughter Sat Kartar Kaur Khalsa

Give blessings and tell stories is something that she has certainly done. Many of us have been blessed to hear her tell stories, in a way that only she could! Those who heard her stories were 1. my parents' generation (who were her children's age), 2. my generation, 3. the kids who she shared with when I was a young adult, 4. any number of youths in the last 10 years that these have been available online, and 5. the young children today who can see our newest animation (play video below). Among the generations we are talking about the young children today could be considered the 'great grandchildren'. So, Guru Meher Kaur Khalsa 'Divine Mata ji' has given blessings and told stories to several generations touching many young souls!  

She is 92 years old, was widowed 28 years ago, has 6 children, 13 grand children and 3 great grandchildren. According to one of her daughters, "She considered all children her grand children anways, so it doesn't really matter." She continues to live with her family in New Mexico. 

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Harijot Singh Khalsa

Harijot Singh is a graduate of Miri Piri Academy. He serves as creator of SikhNet Stories. He has also authored several research pieces on Sikh history as well as offered encouraging messages through his articles.

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