As I said. 30 years of Camp Chardi Kala this year. It was quite an emotional camp this year. It is purely the Grace of the Gurū and Gurū inspired effort of Sardar Ujagar Singh (Daddy ji) and Late Sardarni Gobind Kaur (Ami ji) and their immediate family and friends and sevādārs that has brought the camp this far. As Ujagar Singh uncle told us, it started kind of ad hoc and just grew and grew and it is now a deeply ingrained tradition that is part and parcel of the NY, NJ, CT, PA, MA Sikh community. But this year was doubly special. It was the first time at Camp Chardi Kala that the Khande kī Pāhul ceremony was conducted and three campers boarded the jahāj (ocean liner) of the Khālsā Panth. To them I say - "Welcome Aboard!" (and now get to work...don't ask what can the Panth do for you, ask what can you do for the Panth!)
The Gurū is ever present in spirit as well as body at camp. The spirit of the Gurū Granth Sāhib blesses us with a hukam in the morning and the body in the Gurū Khālsā Panth as some campers and staffers have already boarded the jahāj and act as sevādārs and role models. But this year, with the Panj Piāre and the Gurū Granth Sāhib - the bestower of amrit - during the amrit sancār (amrit ceremony) it was actually the "ephemeral presence of Gurū Gobind Singh" that was there.
So, while the ceremony was going on, the campers were in their regular classes. We were all told that 15 minutes prior to the end of the ceremony we will all collect in the main divan hall and then the Panj and the Guru Granth Sahib will come out followed by the new initiates. (this is a customary end to many khande kī pāhul ceremonies). Classes went quite well but I can assure you the atmosphere while the ceremony was going on was electrifying, and it came to a climax after the ceremony was over and the panj regally installed the granth on the throne in the main divan hall.
My friends, that day the "rider of the blue steed, the keeper of the white hawk, the wearer of the royal plume..." graced the campers and staffers with his presence in the form of the Granth and Panth. It was a mesmorizing experience that no camper or staffer will forget.
The cool thing was there was preparation for this and the official camp T-shirt this year relayed this anticipation through a creative (completely copyright infringed) design. "Just Chhak It" from Nike's "Just Do It". Well...here is the jpeg image of the T-shirt. Simple, sweet and to the point!
There were rumors of controversy as some narrow minded ones thought that such a T-shirt was a sacrilige to the sanctity of amrit. To them I say: "C'mon dudes - Open mindedness - Just Feel It!" But in all seriousness I think it is a creative and refreshing design. If any one has problems with it...comment away!
Next - Advanced Gurmat Class and then Khālsā bōlī!!