“It finally happened”…. Basics & Beyond UK Camp
On 23rd December 2016, the Sangat and Sevadaars were welcoming the King of Kings, SatGuru Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji to the first ever UK camp by Basics of Sikhi.
The ‘Basics & Beyond’ Camp was and is for the Sangat. Allowing them to get a glimpse of what daily life could be like if we take that first step onto the path of love as prescribed by Guru Nanak Dev Ji. One of the campers sent us a lovely testimonial which we want to share with you:
I had been waiting for this moment for the last couple of years, since the first time I went to a Sikhi camp in fact. Just a couple of weeks ago it finally happened; the first ever camp by Basics of Sikhi in the UK! No doubt some, if not all of us, had been eagerly waiting with excitement. Truly my brothers, sisters and I were called to spend five days and four nights in the company of our Father, our Guru, our True Friend and Master; Dhan Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. As well as being the first UK camp by Basics of Sikhi, for me it was also the first ever Sikhi Christmas. Not focusing at all on gifts, Christmas dinner and the TV, but instead on our Shaheeds, Maharaj, Sangat and Seva. At home, for many of us it’s a struggle to get up in the early hours of the morning, but at Camp even after just three hours of sleep it took a single call from one of the Sangat to get us up and into the showers to ensure we got to the Divan on time.
The camp was everything that could have been expected and even more. It was magical, after all we were in His Sangat, some of our brothers and sisters had come from abroad especially for the camp. One Singh arrived at Heathrow Airport about an hour before the coach set off from Southall. Even on the coach, there was an air of excitement and piaar.
Upon arriving, registering and finding our rooms we didn’t have to wait long before we were blessed to welcome our King of kings with a celebration; a shower of flowers. Maharaj officially launched the camp with His majestic presence. The Darbar Sahib and Maharaj’s Takht looked truly remarkable. The pathway to Maharaj’s Takht decorated with beautiful flowers. Maharaj’s Throne was also adorned with flowers, lights and Shastars. We were blessed with beautiful Kirtan from the very beginning by the likes of our American brothers Manvir Singh and ‘The Lost Strings’ Tejveer Singh, Harman Singh from Canada and locals like Rajan Singh.
While the camp was smaller in terms of the number of campers than others, it was just right for the setting and the Sangat. I saw the Sevadars working hard during all hours to ensure everything went well for us. This was truly a blessing on them from Maharaj. It was quite a relaxed atmosphere generally with the likes of Baljit Singh making us laugh throughout with his one-liners. The compulsory Amrit Vela Nitnem for all of us was wonderful and something I haven’t experienced in other camps. The short snack break before Asa Di Var and the two-hour rest time after breakfast worked really well.
A personal highlight was Sunday night’s Katha on Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji by Harman Singh with Tejveer Singh supporting the Katha with the Dilruba playing in the background, timed perfectly to each word and pauses at key moments. I felt a raw force in the words delivered that evening, it was different to the usual delivery, making it extra special. Closing your eyes you could picture the scene unfold in front of you. Veer Ji’s words gave life to that piaar for Dhan Guru Gobind Singh Ji inside us and touched hearts. Tears could be seen on the faces of Sangat. But, no matter what the time of day the Divan and whether we were listening to Kirtan or Katha, the dimmed lighting added to the magic of Maharaj’s Court.
Without a doubt our brother Jagraj Singh was missed and we all speculated about him making a surprise visit from the first day. He did make an appearance albeit not in the manner we thought. His Skype call was definitely a surprise. This was maybe the first time we have known him to be lost for words. His Chardikala shone through despite the battle he is going through. He shared his words of piaar and comfort, reassuring us and demonstrating the strength Maharaj has blessed him with. As he was about to say Fateh to us the roaring Jaikarre came again and again from all the Sangat in the Divan. Projected with all our strength this was our way of telling him how much we were enjoying the camp and what we feel for him. I know he understood and it touched his heart too.
It was beautiful to see the Trainee Parchariks coming into their own and take so easily to the Seva. From singing the Amrit Vela Gurbani, leading the teams, delivering talks/seminars and leading activities. I loved listening to the Bhenjis singing Gurbani and I’m sure the other campers will have done so too. Also Baljit Singh shared his happiness that the Sangat were not shy and made the most of the camp. It was wonderful to see lots of Sangat asking for personal Hukamnamas and thus asking their Guru to communicate with them and building that relationship. I saw a BhenJi ask one of the trainee Parchariks for a personal Hukamnama when most were resting and the Divan was almost empty. When I saw her walk away with tears flowing I knew she felt what many of us have felt. Not knowing what she asked or what He said, He clearly told her exactly what she needed to hear. Her Father, Her Guru had spoken to her and embraced her. Other Singhs also shared their joy at how Maharaj had answered their questions directly. So many people wanted personal Hukamnamas that Baljit Singh did not have time to fit them all in. In them there would have been those who were just realising who their Guru truly is. But also the Sevadars encouraged the campers to get involved in Seva and it was beautiful to see them partaking, especially standing by Maharaj and serving our Gurpita with the Chaur Sahib. Especially those who we would not normally see doing so in the local Gurdwaras. It was Maharaj calling them to serve Him, calling His children to stand by Him.
Having ‘Gurmukhi for Beginners’, ‘Gurdwara Protocol’ advising us how to do Seva of Maharaj and ‘Shabad Arth’ guiding us on the resources available to attain a better understanding of Gurbani were all great ideas and no doubt many benefitted from them. I hope this is a springboard for the campers and for the Seva Basics of Sikhi have been blessed with and the future is full of even more Kirpa.
In the end Maharaj departed as the True King He is with a shower of flowers just as He arrived but this time having His children follow behind and see Him off. But the truth is He is always with us and always speaking to us.
For me, this camp was another blessing from Maharaj where I was in Sangat and in His Darshan day in and day out, allowing me to get that much needed comfort from Him. Many of us beg for Sangat and His Kirpa when feeling weak and this was my prayer being answered once again. We will all have taken away different things from the camp and it will have taken a few days for many of us to get over ‘the camp blues’. But I hope most will take away what they learnt at camp and build on that relationship with Guru Ji and come back to such Sangat to get that much needed boost at times.
I thank Maharaj Ji for the Sangat of my siblings that I was blessed with and for the Seva to bring me closer to Him. Without this I would be lost. I hope to be blessed in this way again soon. No words will do justice to this camp, but if you were not there I hope you will get a sense of what we experienced.
Bhul Chuk Maaf
Dhan Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji
Dhan Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji
Dhan Teri Sikhi
With Vaheguru Ji’s Apaar Kirpa, we have had a lot of positive feedback from the campers and the words above are just one of many…
We would like to thank the following groups and organisations for their support in the preparations and delivery of the Basics & Beyond Camp; Mr Singhs, Midland Langar Seva Society, The Oxford Minibus Company, Satkar Committee UK, Ace Weddings and Smethwick Balloons & Flowers.
Thank you to all of the Sangat for their love and support in arranging our first ever UK camp. With Guru’s Kirpa, it will not be the last.
And last but most definitely not least, thank you Akaal Purakh Vaheguru Ji for giving us the opportunity to serve your Sangat. Please forgive us for the countless mistakes we made before, during and after the camp and please bless us with the strength and guidance to serve your beautiful Panth in the future with more camps!
Vaheguru Ji Ka Khalsa! Vaheguru Ji Ki Fateh!!!
(Below are some images from the Basics & Beyond Camp. We will be releasing all images in the coming weeks)