Locked down with my beliefs: taking stock
31 / 07 / 20
08 / 06 / 20
By Min Kaur (pictured above with her mother Pritpal Kaur)
I may not be sure what day of the week it is any more, but one thing lockdown has taught is how quickly things can change.
I live with my elderly parents, both of whom are very spiritual, and would always wake up early and go to the gurdwara to meditate before starting their day. Going to our place of worship and sitting, praying and eating together with our Sikh community was the norm – but now, with all places of worship closed, many have been feeling lost and anxious, especially as we missed one of the biggest Sikh festivals of the year: Vaisakhi, which celebrates the founding of the Sikh community, the Khalsa. The day commemorates the formation of the Khalsa and Panj Pyare, the 5 beloved ones, warriors under Guru Gobind Singh in 1699. It is a highly significant time and comes once a year.
Coronavirus has forced us to change the way we observe our religion, but I’m realising it’s changing my relationship with my faith in a much more positive way too. Before coronavirus I wasn’t praying as much, or even going to the gurdwara, I was always too busy and had things to do.
I am using all online platforms to stay connected to the community. Through virtual prayers, hymns, sikh talks, exercises with meditation, and the wonderful app Zoom which brings us all together. I feel so blessed and grateful that technology is so powerful and at the tips of our hands that without this I would be lost. I feel like I am right there in the gurdwara through virtual Sikhi talks and prayers.
My own home has transformed into our place of worship. Rather than having to leave the house to go anywhere, one of the bedrooms is transformed into a prayer room, the radio and online apps have hymns direct from the sacred Gurdwara in Amritsar, Sri Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple). We make prashad at home (the sweet holy food we are normally given at the gurdwara) and we can make langar (the free food at the gurdwara) at home. We pray together and recite Waheguru (wonderful god), we make food and we sit and eat together as a family.
Sikhism teaches us to serve your parents through sewa (selfless service). I have been doing this since lockdown. I’m teaching my parents how to use the internet, how to stay connected to the community through using apps, I also spend more time talking to them about Sikhism. I feel so grateful that I have my parents because they are a blessing and I appreciate them so much. They instilled faith in me at a young age and gave me everything and it’s my time to give back to them.
Lockdown has given me the time and space to focus on three principles of Sikhism from my own home too: naam japna (meditation), sewa (selfless service) and Vand Ke Chakna (to share your earnings with others) from the comfort of my home. I have been raising funds for the NHS through a lockdown challenge which started with my father, Rajinder Singh, skipping. We are all doing one form of exercise daily and asking the wider community to join, tag us in to videos and donate towards the campaign as we want to hit £13k which is a special number for the Sikhs since it relates back to Guru Nanak the founder of Sikhism. I am also a volunteer for community groups, in my neighbourhood I have said if they need anything to let me know I will do the grocery shopping and drop it to the door.
The concept of Sarbat da bhalla (wellbeing of others) means look after others before yourself and never be selfish. I have put this in practice through the current lockdown challenge where my parents and I want to give the public something to feel motivated and inspired by so they join in and don’t feel isolated, especially the elders. We are sharing online videos and encouraging the community to take part. I have had lots of skipping videos sent to me, they are feeling boosted as they say we have inspired them and motivated them. Some have gone searching for their skipping rope and said it reminds them of their childhood, some have given skipping a go for the first time. I feel absolutely over the moon to see the responses since my family and I are simple people, not big celebrities who have a huge following. We have touched hearts, we have created smiles in a very dull time of doom and gloom we have done something positive. The fact that people are joining in and saying send more videos and giving us so much love, it makes me smile. I am so humbled by this and feel so happy!
But we aren’t just sharing this within our community – we’re inviting the whole nation to join us, which in turn follows a key principle of Sikhism: ‘we are all one’. Even though we are all at home, there is nothing stopping us checking up on someone, doing a good deed and helping someone. We need to ensure that we are all coming together so that when we come out of lockdown there can be more unity in the community rather than segregation.
I am closer to my faith, and stronger because of it. My faith has helped me wake up each day and, despite everything around us, feel grateful that I have what many do not have: another day. My faith has left me with no desperation for lockdown to end; instead I am totally content in doing my duty, staying home, and help the reduce the burden on the NHS. Some days, I find myself so at peace, I even forget there’s a virus out there.
Guru Gobind Singh, our tenth Guru, said “all human beings are the reflection of one and the same Lord. Recognise the entire human race as one”. I have reunited with my faith but in a much stronger way and I have a big family worldwide that Covid connected me to regardless of caste, creed or colour. I put my whole belief in my faith and I know when we come out of this I will be a much more stronger person.