Today I went to my local Gurdwara (a small converted house). It was the Sri Akhand Paath da Bhog (completion of the continuous reading of Sri Guru Granth Sahib jee) in celebration of Guru Gobind Singh Jee's Prakaash Utsav (Birth Day).
Got there before the bhog, so I had a chaa da cup, then made my way up to the Diwaan Hall. On completion of the Sri Akhand Paath Sahib Ardaas was done. I was standing with my eyes closed listening to the Ardaas. Then I could here a scuffle. What's happening? So I open my eyes and see an old Bibi jee dashing over to the Gurdwara Treasurer giving him £10 and loudly saying "Bhaji, £10 Karhah Parshaad Vaaste" (well it was loud enough that I could hear it and lose concentration from Ardaas!!). It was unbelievable! Disturbing not one's own concentration but others as well JUST TO GET YOUR NAME AND £10 READ OUT! Waheguru!
Chalo, so I close my eyes again. Now someone is gently shaking my arm (yes, DURING ARDAAS). I open my eyes and see the old Bibi jee, "Kidaa Put, Teek Taak?" (How are you son, are you fine?). I was gobsmacked at how this elderly Bibi Jee could do this and be so calm and casual about it. I smiled and said "Teek jee" and quickly closed my eyes. Waheguru Bhalla Kare.
Sat Naam! Then the point came in Ardaas where there is a huge list of people's names to be read and out and how much money they have given to the Gurdwara building fund. In one word, "BORING"!! It really breaks the flow of Ardaas and it seems POINTLESS, other than boost one's EGO. So while Giani jee was say, "Sardar...... Das Pound.... Sardar...... Panj Pound..." you even get people announcing that they gave £1.25 (Savaa Pound) to the Gurdwara Building Fund. Is it necessary? Why can't someone just put the money in the Golak. Simple dimple.
So while the names were being read out I quietly did Simran of Waheguru in my mind. Then at last, the LIST OF NAMES WAS NEAR THE END. What next? "Giani jee, You got that name wrong, its Sardar........" O My God! I couldn't believe what Gurdwara Ardaas has turned into! So eventually after using the life lines of 50/50, phone a friend (or more like ask Waheguru) and ask the "Sangat", Giani jee said RIGHT NAME for the person who donated £5. Deary me.
Praise the Lord! The LIST OF NAMES had come to an end. Now came the Jaikaare (shouting the slogan of "Bole So Nihaal" (whoseover shall reply to this shall be blessed) with the reply of "Sat Sri Akaal" (True is the Immortal))! Giani jee does the first Jaikaara, and I bend down to do matha tekh. I was half way down until I realised, "Woops, I think there's going to be more than one Jaikaara." So I stood back up and hoped that I didn't stand out too much.
Another Singh does Jaikaara. Then the another Singh, followed by a UNCOMFORTABLE PAUSE. Everyone is looking at everyone is going to do the Jaikaara. At this point I am always a bit scared of the scenario that I do a Jaikaara at the same time as someone else and my Jaikaara gets drowned out! lol. Chalo, So I am about to do a Jaikaara, then I hear "MANVIR SINGH, MANVIR SINGH JAIKAARA BOLAA." Waheguru! It was so funny that there was no flow, no focus and no concentration of the Sangat in the Ardaas (including myself). So I did a Jaikaara. Then ANOTHER UNCOMFORTABLE PAUSE. O deary me! You either get TOO MANY Jaikaare or NONE AT ALL. Eventually a Singh did a Jaikaara. Thank God! Then there was ANOTHER UNCOMFORTABLE PAUSE with half people saying Fateh at that point and the other half still staning waiting to say Fateh and the Giani jee stood there for a bit (I don't know what he was thinking) and eventually said Fateh.
Hukamnaama was read and then Keertan began. Sat Naam! Keertan is happening and guess what? Ladies are talking away! And I don't mean quietly! The bibi jee doing Keertan ending up stopping and saying that she will not continue until ladies stop having loud conversations amongst themselves. There seemed to be a bit of an argument or something brewing up amongst the lady. It was really off-putting. Firstly, no FOCUS or NO CONCENTRATION in Ardaas, NOW the same for Keertan. I looked at the ladies and one of the aunty jee's ended up saying "Manvir come here." So I walked across the Darbaar and one of the aunty jee's from the group of aunty jee's who were arguing about something said, "Has the Langar and Karhah Parshaad been Kirpaan Bhet?" I was thinking "Is that what you were arguing about WHILE KEERTAN IS HAPPENING. I said yes, the Singh did it after the ardaas. Rab Da Shukar that the talking amongst the ladies quietened down, but not for long.
Generally I found my Gurdwara experience today a bit funny and amusing (not funny "ha ha", but funny "o deary me"). God help us all :)
Manvir Singh Khalsa