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Vaisakhi Fervor in Washington Gurdwara


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    Washington: Over 1000 people participated in the celebration of Vaisakhi on Sunday and Monday on the Vaisakhi weekend at Guru Gobind Singh Foundation, based in the Washington area. An outstanding feature of Vaisakhi celebration at GGSF is appreciating , recognizing and honoring those individuals and organizations who are working anywhere for the betterment of Sikh community. Every year Sewa Award is given at this occasion Sewa Award 2008 was given to Nishkam Sikh Welfare Council based in Delhi , which came into existence to help and heal orphans and widows of 1984 massacre of the Sikhs. Now it has operations in many states of India, providing relief to victims of tsunami and earthquake, building houses for Siklighar Sikhs, making homes for aged, providing vocational training to widows and orphans.

    Procession of Sikh youth before the Vaisakhi celebrations

    Rajwant Singh , Executive Director of GGSF, while introducing Nishkam said , “I am honored to announce this sewa award for an organization which has emerged as a service organization world wide . It has done wonderful work for needy, aged, victims of natural and manmade disasters. It has also become a channel for non profits like Sikh Human Development Foundation in USA which offers scholarships for needy and intelligent students for higher education.” S Mohan Singh who travels extensively to get funding for Nishkam was invited to receive Sewa Award for 2008. He thanked GGSF for this honor and appealed to the congregation to help in their ongoing programs.

    Mohan Singh of the Nishkam Sikh Welfare Council received the sewa award

    Another person who was honored with the Sewa Award 2008 was Dr. Balwant Singh of Lewisberg, Pennsylvania. An Economist by profession, he is one of the earliest visionaries who launched Youth Camps in 1977 when there were not that many gurdwaras in America. It was the vision of early luminaries that many Sikh boys came back to the fold of Sikhi after going thru these camps. Now many youth camps have spring up every where.

    Left to right: Inderjit Singh, Dr. Kirpal Singh, Patron of GGSF from Florida, Dr. Balwant Singh, Gajinder Singh Ahuja, Secretary General of Sikh Human Development Foundation, Dr. Rajwant Singh and Amrit Kaur

    In addition, GGSF honored Ike Leggett, Executive of Montgomery County government, who is the first African American to hold that position and who has encouraged many minority communities to work with his administration to provide services to all.

    Ike Leggett receiving an award. Left to right: Paramjit Singh Sarin, Hargurpreet Singh, Joginder Singh, Chattar Singh Saini and Amrit Kaur

    Guru Gobind Singh foundation in Rockville, MD, celebrated this day of immense importance by paying glorious tributes to the great Guru thru kirtan, poems and speeches. Kirtan was rendered by Bhai Mohinderjeet Singh and jatha of Delhi for 10 days in a row. They captivated the hearts of audience with their melodious voice.

    Dilroop Kaur, high school student shared her thoughts on taking Amrit and how she is strengthened by it. She took last year on Vaisakhi. Every year few youth from GGSF become Amritdhari.

    Bhai Gurdarshan singh , the resident Granthi , very eloquently articulated the message of Guru and inspired many to come to the fold of Guru by taking Amrit. The sight that moved many was Nagar Kirtan in which young children held Nishan Sahibs and others followed them singing kirtan in traditional way.

    Harpreet Singh, freshman in college, (left) and Sherman Singh (right), a high school student, have taken Amrit this vaisakhi. Both are active members of Sikh youth group at GGSF and have been learning Punjabi and Gurmat at GGSF Gurmat School. Sherman had recently kept his hair following GGSF's Camp Gurmat last year.
    A band of children performed various moves of gatka . Focus on Youth development is a main focus of GGSF. Many children rendered hymns in trained voices, some expressed their personal testimonies on taking Amrit and how the transformation was brought in their lives while others recited poems to eulogize the Guru. The sight of children engaged in so many different activities is extremely satisfying to the parents and pleasing to audience.

    Guransh Singh,12, recited a Punjabi poem on the importance of Amrit and Vaisakhi.

    Amarinder,14, and Inderbir Singh, 13, both brothers shared their pride of Sikh identity and how it gives them strength despite of sometimes being teased.

    Vikram Singh,14, (right) sharing his thoughts on what makes him stand up for his religion.

    Amrit Kaur, Secretary of GGSF, while speaking on the occasion, said, “Vaisakhi is the day Guru Gobind Singh ordained Khalsa brotherhood after administering Khande di Pahul known as Amrit ceremony in April of 1699. This powerful ceremony transformed the psyche of masses like no event had ever done before and thus changed the course of history to come forever.”

    Mankiran Kaur, Riah Kaur, Gurnoori Kaur, Priya Kaur, Madhur Vinaik and Harliv Kaur reciting shabad

    In addition, GGSF also honors individuals who serve the congregation in the gurdwara throughout the year. Baldev Singh was honored for his self less service, dedication and commitment to gurdwara sahib, Manpreet Kaur a was honored for running effectively Gurmat school for GGSF. She very efficiently administrates Gurmat & Punjabi School with 120 children. Three other ladies were also recognized who selflessly devote their time in making langar on day to day basis.

    Teachers of GGSF Gurmat School honoring Manpreet Kaur, the school administrator. From left to right:Upjot Kaur, Amrit Pal Kaur, Manjot Kaur, Sukhwinder Singh, Preet Amrit Kaur, Manpreet Kaur, Gagan Kaur Narang, Dr. Harminder Kaur Mangat, Gurpreet Singh, Rani Kaur, Harpreet Singh, Arvinder Singh, Minoo Kaur Nandra and Rajwant Singh.

    Baldev Singh with his wife, Mohini Singh

    Kids of Broca family reciting punjabi poem on Vaisakhi

    According to Amrit Kaur, Secretary of GGSF, “Vaisakhi was also celebrated on the actual day , April 14tth during day and evening divans. Children take religious day off from schools and adults take time off from work to make it a special day. This tradition has been going on successfully for about 18 years. We congratulate and extend our best wishes to all on Vaisakhi, the birth of Khalsa, the collective birthday of Sikh community.”

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