62 Summit Avenue, Kitchener.
Ontario, Canada, N2M 4W6
There is a general observation that the attendance of our youth in the Gurdwaras is very nominal. I have been
observing this for many years and have heard from almost every well- wisher of the Sikh community that the future of
the faith in the west is bleak. I went to India; the situation there is equally bad if not worse. We can blame the social
environment and peer pressure in the west which question the utility & need of the five K’s during the modern days.
Our youth are not conversant enough to answer these questions; hence they give up the wearing of the articles and
following other rituals of their faith. But to whom can we blame for the Punjabi youth not caring to respect the Sikh
way of life in their own homeland? The author, when he visited India, was surprised and felt hurt to find many Sikh youth without turbans in the villages, schools and colleges. To have a look at the turbaned youth he visited an old famous Khalsa School where all students tied turbans as a matter of routine. I got the shock of my life to see the shaved students even there. The question that severely bothered me was, “How come a Sikh student in the Sikh-managed school dared to be there without a turban?”
Discussion with a local friend revealed that there was no dharmak teacher (Giani) who used to teach Gurbani and Sikh heritage of the Panth in our school. During our times, we listened to the Sikh history, the lives of the Gurus, and the valour of the Sikhs when they sacrificed their lives but not their faith. Listening to the Giani ji filled us with pride of being Sikh and we felt great to wearing turbans on our heads. In the morning assembly it was considered an honour to be one of the three students to lead the chorus by reciting some new Shabads. Many of us did feel, of course, some difficulty in saying Ardaas after the recitation of Shabad.
The student who said the prayer was described as a good boy both among the students and the teachers. We felt honoured to go to the gurdwara whenever there was a special gathering. We felt that we must have a qualified devoted Giani teacher in each school if we want to bring back the love of faith inculcated in the minds of the current student generation.
I wondered if it is financial poverty or the poverty for the love of the faith that there is rarely a fulltime Giani in the
Khalsa School to teach the glory of the heritage. The teaching of moral and social motivation to enjoy being a
Sikh is totally absent in our homes, even in the Sikh institutions, schools, colleges and Gurdwaras. I felt
disappointed by the failure of my generation to perform their duty towards youth.
Later, I met some well wishers of the Panth to discuss this
unfortunate situation with them. My informal exchange of views regarding this situation with them made me intensely
sad. I was told that our leaders and the Gurdwara managements are to be blamed for this. Many leaders of the
panth can be observed drinking publicly without any feeling of guilt. The leaders accused the voting system for electing
the Gurdwara management whether at the village level or at
the national level, S.G.P.C. Amritsar and Delhi Sikh
Gurdwara Committee. The situation in the gurdwaras in the
west has followed the same trend, where the Sikhs stand
divided because of many social, political , religious issues.
Followers of one sant maryada try to build their group to
defeat the followers of the Panthic maryada. Gurdwara
clashes and many election cases are always in the courts in
the west. They waste the Panthic resources and at the same
time disgust the youth making the Gurdwara system
repulsive to them.
When I questioned some Sikhs, who are actively associated
with Sikh affairs, over a cup of tea, they responded, “You
have come after a long time and we should tell you that the
Panth’s enemies have made drinking popular in villages.
Candidates for the assembly elections have to distribute
bottles and drugs during assembly elections, even elections in
our villages for Panches and Surpanches now need lots of
funds. Voters demand bags of bottles before they promise to
vote for you, earlier they only hoped to be entertained by
their candidate after the election. Thus, they too endorsed the
shift of the blame to the voters. My other friend, a former
member of the S.G.P.C. Amritsar, narrated an embarrassing
welcome to all the elected members by the Guru Gobind
Singh Study Circle Ludhiana. His statement briefly was:
“All the elected members of the committee were invited to
Ludhiana. They honored each member by presenting
him/her with a memento. We were congratulated by them for
being elected as the elite Sikhs of the faith.
“A former V.C. of the Punjab Agricultural University,
Ludhiana told us that he showed his inability to serve drinks
to the state guest, the President of Uganda, on his visit to the
University. He wrote to the Government that theirs is an
institution of learning where drinking is prohibited. Serving
drinks officially will set a bad example. Morally, they will
not be able to teach the students that drinking is a vice. The
visiting diginitary was pleased to have his lunch without
alcohol. The V.C. then narrated the conditions in Punjab. He
said that we Sikhs are blamed for distributing alcohol for
Gurdwara elections. This really is a shame for all of us. He
suggested, rather he desired, a promise from us that we as
members will not drink or serve alcohol to any person,
however, important he may be. Unless we members of the
committee shun alcohol, we cannot save the Punjabi youth
from addictions to drugs and alcohol. He used some chosen
words which pricked our conscious and we regretted having
committed the sinful act as members of the Sikh respectable
body. Some of the members did confess their guilt and
promised not to do it again.” I listened to my friend’s
touching statement and was thinking of my response to it,
the first one continued, “The Gianis and the Parcharaks
should educate the voters not to make such demands from
the candidates.” This was more than I could bear. I thanked
them for their visit to my home before they left.
Dear youth, I leave it to you to assign blame to any section
of the Panth for this unfortunate situation which has
developed in the Sikh community all over the world. Dear
students please listen! You have to live with the image of
the community that you build for yourselves. The members
of the faith, who wish you to enjoy the glory of the Panth,
appeal to you not to follow the bad example but learn good
lessons from your life as students. Those who do poorly in
their studies will beg for a job in the factories while those
who achieve academic honour will end up as professionals
in medicine, engineering, law, etc. Similarly, as a Sikh
youth if you live a disciplined life and love your faith, you
will enjoy peace and bring honor to your community. Dear
friends, the choice is yours.