300th Anniversary Of The Khalsa Panth Celebrations 1999
Organized by Khalsa Diwan Malaysia
with the co-operation of all Gurdwaras and Sikh Associations in Perak
REPORT BY ORGANISING CHAIRMAN SARDAR SANTOKH SINGH RANDHAWA.
Celebrations come and go. This particular celebration was of particular significance as it was the 300th. anniversary of the Khalsa Panth. We happen to be passing by in time at this point. Someone or some Society or Association had to step forward and take the lead. As the name suggests, Khalsa Diwan Malaysia was aptly positioned to do so, at least at Perak level if not the National level.
Having the means to organize is one thing; to be able to organize is another. The thought was in my mind for some time. I knew that to suggest it at the Executive Committee meeting of the Diwan would mean “you propose, you do it.” I consulted the members who I knew would eventually get involved, and they were willing. Hence at the Diwan meeting held on 17.10.98, the proposal was made to celebrate the occasion on a grand scale at Perak State level and give a general invitation to sangat of Malaysia. Sure enough, I was asked to Chair the Organizing Committee meeting, and to pick my own team, with the mandate to even incorporate members from outside KDM circle.
The members at the Annual General meeting of the Diwan held on 22.11.98 had approved a tidy sum of RM60,000.00 for this purpose.
Having envisioned the gigantic lay-out of the programme, a team of the ablest and most devoted, and who would quietly work for the Khalsa Panth in selfless glory were hand-picked. The team comprised of the following:
|Organising Chairman||Sardar Santokh Singh Randhawa|
|Org. Vice Chairman||Sardar Gurnam Singh Dhillon|
|Organising Secretary||Sardar Jit Singh @ Sarjit Singh|
|Organising Treasurer||Sardar Sahib Singh|
|Members||Dato Dr. Gurdeep Perkash Singh||Dr. Amarjeet Kaur|
|Sardar Khazan Singh||Sardar Sarbir Singh|
|Sardar Kulwan Singh||Sardar Sakatar Singh|
|Sardar Gorpal Singh||Sardar C. Pritam Singh|
|Sardar Dayal Singh||Sardar Pritam Singh Chahil|
|Sardar Sardool Singh||Sardar Malkith Singh SNSM|
|Sardar Piara Singh||Sardar Daaljit Singh|
|Bibi Ranjit Kaur||Bibi Inderjeet Kaur|
As we proceeded with the planning, more members were incorporated into the Committee. They were:
Sardar Desunda Singh, Sardar Ander Singh ‘Lalli’
Bibi Meet Kaur, Bibi Puspall Kaur,
Sardar Tarlochan Singh Johl.
Ex Officio members: Sardar Darshan Singh ‘Kellah’ Sardar Mohkam Singh.
The 42 Gurdwaras of Perak and 6 associations were requested to participate. The standard formation was : THE BANNER, FLOAT, THE SANGAT/MEMBERS, of each Gurdwara/Association. The procession was set up as follows :
Flag Bearers (National, State, Khalsa Flags), Panj Piare on horseback, Dasmesh Band, Gatka Group from U.K., the main float from K.D.M. followed by the 42 Gurdwaras and 6 association floats. The helicopter above was to shower flower petals along the way.
THE GRAND EVENT
Guru Nanak Institution was a hive of activity from the 23rd. itself. Sewadaars like Sardar Sahib Singh, Sardar Mohkam Singh, Sardar Sardool Singh, Sardar Rajinder Singh, Sardar Sawaran Singh and members of the Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia Perak were busy decorating the grounds, sweeping, cleaning, arranging, etc. etc.
Sardar Ranjit Singh, Sardar Harneak Singh, and Bibi Kuldip Kaur were working round the clock to ensure that the main float comes out to be the best ever.
The float of the Perak Sikh Union, and Gurdwara Sahib Kampar were also being prepared at the GNI grounds.
Sardar Jit Singh and Sardar C. Pritam Singh were not in peace either. The office was also a hive of activity, with phone calls coming in non-stop, arrangements being finalized, and seeing to the responsibilities being carried out to detail.
27th March 1999, Saturday
Every member who had been allotted responsibility was busy as a bee, finalizing last minute arrangements.
Come 2.00 pm. and the Kirtan Darbaar began under the guidance of Sikh Naujawan Sabha . There began a steady trickle of the sangat into the GNI grounds. By 5.00pm the crowd had already built up to 3500 to 4000, which was beyond our expectations. Sardar Sardool Singh and his group in charge of food arrangements were frantically cooking ‘deg’ after ‘deg’ of rice and dhall. Tea and buns / biscuits / sweetmeats were served for tea.
There was a colourful display of Gatka in the main field witnessed by the crowd.
The stalls played a variety of music to attract customers. Special souvenirs commemorating the 300th. Anniversary of the Khalsa Panth were also on sale, Other items were ready-made clothes, copper-tooling products, cloth, food and drinks.
The Exhibition room of Sardar Malkiat Singh Lopo displayed cultural items, photographs, and his famous dolls. Bibi Amar Kaur had her room filled with a display of photographs depicting Sikh history. The Gatka team from U.K. displayed Guru Gobind Singh ji’s “kalgi”, Baba Ajit Singh’s ‘arrow’, and other relics from the days of the Gurus.
The Dashmesh Jatha was late to come, but we managed to squeeze them in for a number or two. They presented inspiring shabads, and were dressed in full regalia, playing drums and other instruments. The mood was already set for the grand event the next day.
The horses arranged through Mr. Don Johnson and Sardar Amrik Singh started coming in one by one, and the last horse came in by 3.00am. ( This was inspite of the ban on horse movement due to the outbreak of some horse disease)
28th March 1999, Sunday
The day dawned, clear and fresh. Guruji had answered our prayers. The weather looked good – no rain clouds in sight. It has been raining everyday for the last few days and we were pretty worried about the weather today.
By 6.30am, at the Gurdwara Sahib Buntong, crowds began pouring in for breakfast. The cue was becoming longer and longer. The sewadaars were working fast to clear the crowd before 8.00am.
Floats of all shapes and sizes began lining up the roads around the Guru Kalgidhar School area. There were decorated lorries, bullock cart, buses, cars, and even a hand-drawn replica of the Golden Temple. Wow !!! What a variety – never ever seen before. Under the watchful eyes of Sardar Tarlochan Singh Johl, they lined the roads in the order laid out for their departure.
The first rays of the sun saw not only the colourful floats, but also colourful people from the land of the five rivers, with their turbans tied in all styles, dressed in different attires, and the ladies…. their colourful dupattas, lehngas, kurtas and salwaars, etc. They were colourful. Most towns had their own code of dress pertaining to colour and style.
Large banners and balloons filled the grounds.
The Jathas from the various towns started to line up in the field of the Guru Kalgidhar School behind the placards that were arranged for them. GKD did an excellent job at the starting point. In the middle of the field floated a cluster of 100 odd helium filled balloons, under which hung a BANNER to be released into the air later.
The dignitaries also started to come in by 8.00 am.
Encik Munisamy , a DBI councillor, represented the Datuk Bandar who was unable to come, it being Hari Raya Haji. YB Dato Lee Chee Leong, a member of the State EXCO represented the Chinese community of Perak.
Then came the Guests of Honour, YB Dato G. Rajoo representing YAB Menteri Besar of Perak, and also a member of the State EXCO.and the Indian Community of Perak. Then came His Excellency Shri Paramjit Singh Sahai, the Indian High Commissioner.
All the dignitaries were welcomed by the Organizing Committee. The President of Khalsa Diwan Malaysia Sardar Darshan Singh Kellah, gave a seropau in the form of a yellow ‘palla’ to each of them.
Sharp on time, the Arambhak Ardaas started, followed by the welcome address of the Organizing Chairman, Sardar Santokh Singh.
YB Dato Lee Chee Leong and YB Dato G. Rajoo conveyed their greetings and congratulated the Sikh Kaum for organizing such a grand event.
His Excellency, Shri Paramjit Singh Sahai also conveyed his greetings, and oulined the principles of Sikhism. He said that he was indeed honoured to be present amongst the Sikhs to celebrate Vesakhi together.
The speech of the Menteri Besar was read out by YB Dato G. Rajoo. The M.B. said that in Malaysia we were very lucky to witness so many different celebrations and conveyed his greetings to the Sikhs on this auspicious day.
Then came the opening ceremony.
Shri Paramjit Singh Sahai, YB Dato Lee Chee Leong, YB Dato G. Rajoo, Sardar Darshan Singh Kellah, and Dr. Perdeman Singh simultaneously cut the strings tying the banner, to the accompanying echo of Jekareys and away it went. ( See footnote )
After that the V.I.P.s were entertained to tea, and the float procession began under the supervision of ASP Tarlochan Singh Johl.
The main banner depicting the occasion was followed by 15 flag-bearers carrying the flags of Malaysia (5), Perak (5), and the Nishan Sahib (5).
Then the Dashmesh Band in their colourful regalia, which was followed by the Gatka team from UK. 5 horsemen in their ‘bana’ attire riding decorated horses preceded the main float which carried the Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Students and teachers from Guru Nanak Institution together with some members of the Khalsa Diwan Malaysia followed.
The Jaloos had begun. One by one, the banner, the float and the followers left under the guidance of Sardar Gurnam Singh, Sardar Kulwan Singh, Sardar C. Pritam Singh, and Sardar Jit Singh.
Then came the attraction – a helicopter flying over the jaloos started to shower flower petals on the jaloos. It was a scene to behold. A magnificent sight all right. The colourful banners, flag-bearers, Band, horses, floats and the helicopter showering flowers. The crowd was mystified. Everybody stood awed to see the sight, especially the other communities along Jalan Guntong and the Buntong Market.
The crowd was estimated at 10,000 at the starting point, but when we reached Wadda Gurdwara Sahib, another thousand or more were waiting. Drinks and snacks including ice cream were served. A lot of people also distributed tit bits prepared at home. The procession kept moving. It was the first water station.
We were at the Bus station when we were told that the last float had just left the starting point. Judging by that the procession was at least 2.5 km. long. We were permitted to use one side of the road, but the crowd was so big that it spilled over to the other side too. The Police personnel just obliged. Thanks to them.
At Lahat Road, a further few thousand joined. I was surprised to see His Excellency Shri Paramjit Singh Sahai and Dato Dr. Gurdeep Perkash Singh catching up with us in the front. They had walked all the way, and walked they did. 2 more watering points were here – from Ashok Singh, and another from Jit Travels, Libas, and Ganesh Music. The drinks were snapped up fast by the thirsty followers. ‘Chaney’ were also distributed. I wonder if the rear section of the procession managed to get something.
We moved on to the main Town Padang where Leo Brothers has put up another watering point. The waiting crowd was tremendously large here, and they too followed the Jaloos, By now, the crowd must easily be between 25,000 and 30,000 (including other races).
All along, it was heartening to see the Sikh police in uniform moving up and down on foot or on motorcycles to control the traffic and the crowd
The crowd was well behaved. They were busy watching the jaloos, singing the hymns, and walking along – some barefooted.
The young, the old, the disabled on wheel chairs, children in prams, What a sight.
Near the Bank Negara building, Milap Club had set up their watering point. Everyone was in a carnival mood. Here again the helicopter appeared like a giant bird in the sky. ( Sardar Kulwan Singh must have been pretty excited as he called the helicopter to come a bit earlier, when in fact the point chosen was the last leg of the journey along Jalan Tun Abdul Razak including the GNI. ) Petals rained on the crowds again. The State Secretariat building also received the blessings of Waheguru ji. !!!!!!
At the round-about to Jalan Tun Abdul Razak, The Perak Sikh Education Aid Fund members were anxiously waiting in full force to serve the participants. This was the last watering point before GNI. They too did a magnificent job. Thanks to them.
The last kilometer of the route was really historical. The Dashmesh Band played their choice tunes to glory. Everyone held hands and walked the last kilometer.
The Organising Secretary was the only person missing all along. After starting the last float from Guru Kalgidhar Diwan, he had gone back to GNI to see that arrangements were made for the Jaloos floats to enter the GNI compound. He did the job well. It was decided that only the main float will enter the GNI grounds, otherwise there would be chaos. The rest of the floats were to park outside the grounds, circling the roads around the school.
A running commentary of the floats coming in was given. The crowd was amused. As they rolled in, jekareys were heard from all over. The first float arrived at about 11.00am. and the last float of Guru Kalgidhar Diwan arrived at about 11.55am. The timing was excellent.
The water stations in the GNI were plentiful. Khalsa Food Caterers served non-stop to the crowds coming in. So did a few other well-wishers.
At the grounds, the SGGS was carried ceremoniously down the float, and put on the beautifully decorated Manji Sahib in the Diwan. The Sikh Cultural Heritage Exhibition was going on. Half the crowd was already in the School field before the procession arrived. Langgar began to be served to those who wished for an early meal. The crowd at the grounds could easily be between 15000 to 18000.
Invited foreign Jathas were doing superb Kirten and Parchaar. Before the Diwan ended at about 3.00pm, the President of Khalsa Diwan Malaysia was called upon to give ‘seropaus’ to the invited Jathas, the Dashmesh Band, and the Gatka team. Also, the prizes for the best floats were given. Three judges from outside Perak were secretly appointed to watch the procession and give mark. The prize winners were as under:
|1||Wadda Gurdwara Sahib Ipoh||RM500|
|2||Gurdwara Sahib Pusing||RM300|
|3||Gurdwara Sahib Tg. Tuallang||RM200|
The *Awards for Best Effort put in went to :
|1||Gurdwara Sahib Buntong||RM101|
|2||Gurdwara Sahib Menglembu||RM101|
|3||Gurdwara Sahib Taiping||RM101|
|4||Gurdwara Sahib Malim Nawar||RM101|
|5||Perak Sikh Union||RM101|
*These prizes were given to the participting Jathas on 29.3.99 at Wadda Gurdwara Sahib.
After semapati, SGGS was taken back to the house of Sardar Mahan Singh, and the stage was redecorated for the Cultural programmes to begin.
The school children in groups from all over Ipoh gave a fantastic 4 hour programme of songs, giddha, bhangra, dramas, dances etc. The crowd sat on the floor mesmerized.
Elsewhere, the children were playing around in the field, enjoying horse rides specially arranged for them by Mr. Don Johnson. There were the Bhangra boys from Bidor. The Kabaddi teams also were the crowd pullers. The Gatka team gave a fantastic display of their talents again today.
Blood donation drive was also on, but the people were so engrossed in the activities going on in the padang, that they hardly thought of the activity in the classrooms. We had 28 blood donors. The First Aid room was also kept busy.
The weather was excellent too. There were a very light drizzle. But believe it or not, it rained all around, except in the grounds. Guru ji took care of His own Karaj.
As the last rays of the sun faded away, the crowds began to wither. The end of the programme came at about 8.00pm. Most of the crowd began to leave, but there were still quite a number going around the stalls to make their last minute purchases of souvenirs, CDs, Cassettes, clothing etc. etc.
By 9.00pm. the sewadaars were left tidying up the place after two hectic days.
This day will go down in history as the day when members of the Sikh community joined hands and celebrated the 300th. Anniversary of Khalsa Panth at such a massive scale that I don’t think we will see another celebration in Perak so grand for a long time to come.
29th March 1999, Monday
The Celebrations were not over yet. The scene changed. From the open-air atmosphere of the Guru Nanak Institution grounds, we shifted to the Wadda Gurdwara Sahib, Ipoh today.
The most important and vital religious ceremony – the AMRIT SANCHAAR programme there hosted by the Wadda Gurdwara Sahib.
The ceremonies started at 10.00am and ended just before 2.00pm. A total of 42 participants joined the Khalsa Panth by taking Amrit.
While the Amrit Sanchaar programme went on upstairs, Bibi Ajaib Kaur from Tampin was giving a talk and having a dialogue session with the rest of the sangat downstairs. Guru ka Langgar was served.
Perak Sikh Union not wanting to be left out of the celebrations had decided to host the Kirtan Darbaar from 2.00pm to 10.00pm. After the opening address of the Organizing Chairman Dr. Ranjoth Singh, the Kirtan Darbaar started. A total of 11 Jathas, the best of both local and foreign took part. The Gurdwara was packed to capacity, with no standing room even at the ground floor. Tea and langgar was sponsored by a few good-hearted donors and the balance was chipped out of PSU Funds. The Annual Kirtan Competition this year was changed to Kirtan Darbaar.
And with the end of the Kirtan Darbaar, the 300th. Anniversary of Khalsa Panth Celebrations at Perak State level came to an end.
Santokh Singh Randhawa,
300th. Anniversary of Khalsa Panth Celebrations, Perak.
Note : This banner landed at about 3.00pm in a fruit plantation in Kampong Gajah and was found by Puan Rosni bt. Len, of Kampong Mesjid, Pulai 3 Kiri Parit, Kg. Gajah, who surrendered it to us on 10.4.99. A reward of RM101.00 was given to her. She was very happy as the banner still had some balloons intact. The family and children had a nice Hari Raya Haji celebration with the balloons. The occasion was videotaped. The tapes are available from the Khalsa Diwan Malaysia’s Office.