Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Humorous

I don't want to turn into one of those bloggers who just posts YouTube videos, but I'm too busy to update with something else today and I thought this was funny:

Monday, April 28, 2008

pre L.A. Baisakhi

I had wanted to attend the L.A. Baisakhi for a few years now, because I remember going to it when I was a kid (1988). And I remembered it being really big and exciting and seeing a lot of Sikhs. Well it took another 20 years but I made it back. Actually the trip was paid for even :-) Because the night before the L.A. Baisakhi was a function in Bakersfield where we did a Bhangra performance. It's funny because Bhangra is not necessarily one of my favorite things to do, I mostly do it for the exercise. We have a really excellent choreographer (Ravi Kaur) who studied Bhangra in India. I just do as she says and that makes me good enough to be in a troupe and travel :-) I don't have any video or pictures of the Bhangra, but I have a few pictures of the event.
L.A. Baisakhi 2008
The mayor of Amritsar was there because Bakersfield is now a sister city with Amritsar. The mayor of Bakersfield was also there as well as a large gathering of the Punjabi/Sikh community of Bakersfield.
L.A. Baisakhi 2008
The event was in a really big hall. Most people sat in the middle area, going many rows back.
L.A. Baisakhi 2008
There was some interesting scenery driving from L.A. to Bakersfield. This was a hill that had a bunch of little yellow and purple flowers.
L.A. Baisakhi 2008
We drove through some hilly areas.
L.A. Baisakhi 2008
L.A. Baisakhi 2008
The next day we were off to the L.A. Convention center for the Gurdwara, which was great!
L.A. Baisakhi 2008
Near the convention center we saw this advertisement getting painted. It's really HUGE.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Our community

I was just reading an article on Sikhnet and I read a comment saying that we should be promoting the turban to our own community first. It reminded me of that "feudal" mindset that I was referring to before. "Our" community meaning people of Punjabi descent that were born into Sikh families.
It then reminded me of something my friend Gurujot Singh Ji mentioned to me. He said, you never saw the Siri Singh Sahib trying to 'reclaim' the youth or target the wayward Punjabi community to become Sikhs. Instead he spent his entire life in dedication to the Guru and taught the message of the Gurus. He reached thousands upon thousands of people, some of whom were Punjabi and from Sikh families, many of whom were not (like my parents).
I encourage the sangat to look beyond feudal boundaries and human divisions. To see that the meaning of Ek Ong Kaar, is that we are all one and that God is one with all. There is no Hindu, there is no Mulsim, as Guru Nanak taught. There is no Sikh as a "religion" either, Sikh is a student of truth, it is not a way to classify ourselves as anything separate from any other human.
Nanak Naam Chardi Kala, Tayray Bhanay Sarbat Da Bhala.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Rest of L.A. Baisakhi Pictures

Here are a few more and the rest are in my flickr account.
L.A. Baisakhi
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L.A. Baisakhi
I even got a picture of myself in one of the hundreds of photos.
L.A. Baisakhi

Friday, April 18, 2008

Planning ahead

Some people say:
"People make plans and God laughs"
However, People are part of God, and I don't think God is so petty.
Therefore I plan. It has always worked for me, and it has allowed me to cover for those who can't seem to plan.
This statement isn't without virtue as the play of the universe is more powerful than the will of an individual. However, the universe can also serve each of us. In fact all is the will of God and all is in service to us. "We are infinite souls, here for a human experience."
If I don't project, and act, and live righteously and with commitment, I find that I am not served very well. However, if I do these things (living with Dharma) then the universe is a prosperous and joyous play.
As a Sikh, I have a perfect Dharma, a righteous path that has not been corrupted that has been gifted from the Guru. I will not say that I perfectly follow Dharma, but God's message, God's will, God's gifted Dharma is perfect. Some of the beloved tools that help me live in Dharma, are sadhana (daily spiritual pracitce), sangat (holy congregation), nit naym (daily recitation of divine Gurbani), my identity as Khalsa, and of course the rehit (code of conduct), which requires me to do all of this. Another beloved tool that I use is Kundalini Yoga and White Tantric Yoga, these are powerful techniques for healing the body, healing the mind, meditating and thus clearing karmas. One such opportunity to combine all the lifestyle tools and techniques that I admire and incorporate into my life is the Summer Solstice Sadhana Camp.
You can come because you love meditation and yoga, you can come because you love sangat, you can come because you love New Mexico, you can come because you need peace, tranquility, spirit, energy, renewal, etc., etc. Whatever the reason, it is undeniably an unforgettable experience that will serve you for the rest of your life.
Therefore I plan to be there and I have already asked for the time off work (since I plan ahead).
Hope to see you all there.
Sat Naam.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

L.A. Baisakhi Gurdwara

L.A. Baisakhi 2008
View upon entering the Gurdwara.
L.A. Baisakhi 2008
A family that is also a kirtan jetha. They did some beautiful kirtan as well as many other raagis that sang that day.
L.A. Baisakhi 2008
The panj pyaray were standing for a very long time, finally at some point they got a little rest. I later met one of the Panj named Hunar Singh Ji. He's the youngest member of the panj you see in this photo.
L.A. Baisakhi 2008
This year there was a presentation for a "Mai Bhago spirit of Baisakhi award." It was an award to honor Sikh women who have made a great contribution to the panth.
From Sikhnet:
"Honorees this year were: Dr. Harjot Kaur Singh, a medical doctor and Sikh Canadian film producer who produced the movie By the Guru's Grace – Journey through the Sikh Experience ; Inni Kaur Dhingra, VP of Spectrum Communications and a member of the editorial board of Nishaan Magazine who has chaired the Spinning Wheel Festival in New York City and also helped organize the Sikh art exhibit at the Rubin Museum in New York City last year, titled I See No Stranger: Early Sikh Art and Devotion; Penny Yogiraj Sandhu, President and CEO of JusPunjabi 24 Hour American-Punjabi Channel; Valarie Kaur, Sikh American film director and writer who wrote and directed the move Divided We Fall – about Sikhs in the backlash aftermath of 9-11; and Shanti Kaur Khalsa, Sikh writer and Chairwoman of the International Khalsa Council. Valarie Kaur could not attend the event, and the award was received in her name by Eric Santiestevan who composed the music for her film."
L.A. Baisakhi 2008
I really zoomed in, so it's a little blurry, but still a nice photo of Guru Ji.
L.A. Baisakhi 2008
The mayor of Amritsar was in attendance as well as the mayor of Los Angeles, who wore a turban as a sign of respect for the Sikh community. They were given time to address the sangat and presented with gifts.

There are more pictures at my flickr account. Soon I will put up more photos of the Nagar Kirtan, of which I took many.

Monday, April 14, 2008

I hope everybody had a GREAT Baisakhi!

Española's Baisakhi was just so beautiful, so amazing!
Saturday morning we woke up to snow, but by the afternoon it had all melted, and when I went to ishnaan seva on Sunday morning I could tell it was going to be a warm and clear day. The day was perfect in fact.
Our Nagar Kirtan was so nice and the Gurdwara was so beautiful. As I wrote before, my brother and I lead kirtan for the first time. If you want to hear a recording, Gurumustuk Singh Ji has graciously shared it on his blog at http://www.mrsikhnet.com/index.php/2008/04/14/vaisakhi-celebrations-in-espanola-new-mexico/#more-3112
Also he has great pictures from the day.
Dhan Dhan Siri Guru Gobind Singh Ji Maharaj!
Bole So Nihaaaal!
Sat Siri Akaaaal!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Kirtan

The first time Hari Singh Ji (my brother) and I will be leading kirtan in Gurdwara is this Sunday in Española. It is our Bhaisakhi celebration. It will be the first time any one has played the rabab during our Gurdwara. Hari will be on rabab and I will be on the dilruba. We will be playing 3 shabads of Guru Gobind Singh and it will be in raag Malkauns. Both the shabads and the raag should invoke Bir Ras (warrior spirit) and of course love for God. WaheGuru!
Tune in on Sikhnet if you want to see or hear our Gurdwara on Sunday:
http://www.sikhnet.com/s/SundayGurdwara

The L.A. convention center was turned into a beautiful Gurdwara

L.A. Bhaisakhi
Here is one of several pictures that I took.
I will soon upload all my L.A. Bhaisakhi photos and share them all via Flickr.
It was truly an amazing day and beautiful event. The whole celebration was just amazing.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Had to get at least one photo up :-)

I took a total of 324 photos this weekend, and have only deleted a few so far. Here is the first one that I had to share.
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A picture from the front of the Nagar Kirtan in downtown Los Angeles.

L.A. Bhaisakhi was great!

It was a really beautiful day with thousands of Sikhs and it was very festive and very devotional. I took a few hundred photos so I hope to get them up soon. I am however going to spend a lot of my time outside of work practicing kirtan for this weekend's Bhaisakhi in Española. Hope you all had a great weekend!

Friday, April 04, 2008

Aquarium pictures

A few weeks ago I went with my niece and nephew and family to the Albuquerque Aquarium and botanical gardens. That is where I got the pictures of the roadrunner. I also saw some sharks and baby sharks :-)
March 2008
Here is one of the two baby sharks.
March 2008
Check out the big shark
March 2008
Looks pretty mean huh?
March 2008
This kind of shark doesn't look so mean.
March 2008
A random kid looking at a stingray

I have more pictures at my flickr account.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Our state bird

The roadrunner
March 2008

March 2008

March 2008
on the move