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Power of gurbani : Migrant labourer takes to Sikhism


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An exceptional case or, an example of power of Gurbani.


Gurbani hymns fashion migrants anew



PATIALA: It's a brotherhood of music charged by faith, transcending creeds and manhewn barriers.

It's also a story of migrant dreams and of fashioning new identities.

Jaipal, son of a poor farmer, was a dreamy boy but there was noone in his village Sibora near Ghaziabad to make his musical dreams real.

When someone told him about the rich tradition of music in the gurdwaras, inspiration struck and turned a fanatic obsession.

He managed to convince his family members about getting a good job in Punjab and left the village for the dera of Sant Hari Singh Randhawewale at Fatehgarh Sahib.

The divinely exalted strains of Gurbani floated into his ears and soul as he reached the dera.

The sant welcomed him with a benign smile, gently telling him about the regimen needed to maintain the sanctity of the place.

For Jaipal, now Jaiveer Singh (he converted to Sikhism after polishing his enunciation of Gurbani), the last two-and-a-half years has been a taste of equality, brotherhood and harmony.

He has migrated into a new faith and new words for his musical soul.

Jaipal's is not a freak case of infatuation with a faith other than the one was born into. Interestingly, many born-again migrants are serving in gurdwaras as ragis and pathis.

They can be identified only from their Bhojpuri or Bihari dialect.

Says Sunil Singh, (formerly Sunil Kumar): "No one had ever persuaded me to become a Sikh. It is my own wish to become a preacher of Sikhism, specially in UP. The rich Sikh tradition of sacrificing for the religion and nation has always inspired me," he proudly intones.

Khajan Singh, another student in the dera, said that he was studying at the Sikh Inter College in Jaya near Moradabad where he learnt about the bravery of Sikhs when he decided to become a Sikh.

But he says he never tried to convert other members of his family, all of whom are non-Sikhs. He had, however, managed to convince them to give up tobacco.

Jaiveer Singh and Sunil Singh play tabla and dholki respectively. Their recitation of of hymns from gurbani is so impeccable that no one would think they have come from UP and Bihar.

Balvir Singh (formerly Balbir Kumar) serves as a sewadar at Gurudwara Patshahi Chhewien at Mandi Gobindgarh.

He hails from Bareli. Varinder Singh (formerly Varinder Kumar) of village Beehat in Shahjahanpur district is a pathi in the same gurdwara.

His wife Ram Sanehi, after baptism, has been rechristened as Sarabjit Kaur.

"We will like to raise our children as Sikhs," says Varinder Singh.

These acts of conversion — relocating and crafting new identities — may have been powered by economic compulsions in some cases, but their new faith has certainly impinged on a sharpeneed sense of hygiene.

Eschewing tobacco and 'zarda,' proscribed by Sikhism, has enhanced their health and sense of well-being.

Kharak Singh, who lives in the Gobindgarh grain market, had come to Punjab as a migrant labourer but after embracing Sikhism, he has simply forgotten what zarda and tobacco look like.

For some, it's been a spiritual thrill. Kala Singh (known as Kharak Singh Brij Kishore in his village Pahtohi in Hardoi district) came to Punjab as a domestic servant and was stirred by the kirtan.

He now lives at Haripur village in Amloh, apparently a changed man.

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