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According to an email distributed by the executive committee of the annual Gurmat camp run by Sikh Missionary Society U.K. (Regd.), they are operating a ban on anyone eating Sarbloh bibeki langar (including anything pre-prepared). Although it's highly unlikely that this rehit will apply to the kids it will definitely apply to some sewadars at the camp who may be keeping this as part of their rehit.

I myself do not follow the Sarbloh bibeki rehit, but I have respect for any Gursikh who commits to this discipline if they feel it betters the sikh jeevan. I have secretly admired the discipline kept by sarbloh bibekis as it's always inspiring to meet people committed to their belief and are willing to go without rather then break their rehit.

Whilst admittedly I know very little about this type of rehit, I fail to see how being Sarbloh bibeki can be classified as un-Sikh by some Sikhs. I personally feel this BAN by Sikh Missionary Society U.K. (Regd.), almost categorises itself as talibanistic. This is a 7 day overnight stay camp. Food and water is an essential of every humans basic need and as Sikhs I don't see how we can justify denying another Sikh their human right to eat food prepared with satkaar in a purtan way, whichever way you disguise it. There's no meat or any un Gursikh food items cooked in the sarbloh bata and it's simplicity, it's probably likely to be healthier than the processed food that will be fed to the kids as langar during the camp.

An attack on the metal of Sarbloh is an attack on the bata in the Amrit Sanchar. It's easy for some of us to forget that we took our first sips of amrit from a bata made of Sarbloh and for some Sikhs, all they want to do is carry on that experience by remaining attached to that bata. It's about sharda, bhavna.

Ironically, I have been told that one member of the executive committee of the above Gurmat camp associates with Naamdharis, perform kirtan at the Naamdhari dera in East London and brings Naamdharis to perform kirtan at an Ilford Gurdwara. Yet this executive committee member classifies the Naamdhari belief of a clearly un-sikh dehdhari Satguru, 15 Gurus and a similar belief of a "sodi" diet (where naamdharis eat out of steel and only from the hands of other sodis) as acceptable.

Just my 2 pennies worth. I have written to the Sikh Missionary Society U.K. (Regd.) to get their response on it. I thought I would share my thoughts on this with you. I hope they reconsider for the young sewadars who are helping at the camp and who have decided to take on the Sarbloh bibeki rehit.

Look forward to other Gursikhs opinions.

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The issue is not about an individuals view on bibek rehat, the issue is about acceptance, prem, pyar and respect. Without these qualities, one has to question whether they qualify to run a "Gurmat" camp.

Denying someone their right to food and water is not Guru Nanak Dev Ji's Sikhi. Today, I heard a young sewadar bibi was humiliated and told that if she wanted to maintain her rehat maryada she can go home even though she lived over 100 miles away and had been helping at the camp. Some Gursikhs travelled out of the camp to a local family's house in order to eat as per their rehat.

We have too many cynics running Sikh camps who lack the open mindedness and depth to project Sikhi. Many of these camps remain 2 dimensional and are nothing more than an extension of the Sunday morning diwan with little influence on the child's life. Often it's the reni and beni projected from the sewadars which has the biggest impact on the children and not the content or the organisation. To surpress that reni and beni by belittling sewaks supresses the positive experiences that the children can gain. Rehat is an individual's choice and we should encourage young rehatvaan Sikhs, not discourage them.

kabeer saakath sa(n)g n keejeeai dhoorehi jaaeeai bhaag || baasan kaaro paraseeai tho kashh laagai dhaag ||131||

Kabeer, do not associate with the faithless cynics; run far away from them. If you touch a vessel stained with soot, some of the soot will stick to you. ||131||.

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We have too many cynics running Sikh camps who lack the open mindedness and depth to project Sikhi. Many of these camps remain 2 dimensional and are nothing more than an extension of the Sunday morning diwan with little influence on the child's life.

See camps run by the likes of the Sikh Missionary Society rely on "text book" Sikhi. They have been doing camps for over 30 years in the UK and I wouldn't be surprised if the original sewadars still organise the camp content. In over 30 years the format, structure, attitude and content still remains the same.

As a kid and teenager I had no choice but to attend these "text book" camps with bland monotone repetitive uncle speakers who themselves appeared confused on their Sikhi. I remember feeling no connection with them and certainly saw no depth behind the people. There was not much of an outward expression of Sikhi and I never ever saw a kirpan or a shastar. Don't get me wrong, we owe these guys for the efforts they made to do these camps.....but they struggled to connect the kids back then, the majority of who gradually moved further away from Sikhi as they grew up.

Things have changed and there's more depth and understanding of Sikhi. British born youth are taking Sikhi rehat very seriously and are more likely to be able to inspire kids then the older guys (some of who are still stuck in a time machine in the year 1979). The problem now is a difference in opinions leads to things like the banning of the bana, the banning of shastars and the banning of bibeki rehat. In the past we have heard of committees saying that "nangiya lata" of men will not be allowed at gurdwaras/camps, directly attacking the bana or long kirpans will not be allowed and even kirpans/gatray must not be visible.

What these executive committees have to understand is in their narrow-mindedness, all they are doing is stifling the progression of young Gursikhs. If they feel the right to attack young Gursikhs for their respect for langar or sarbloh, the wearing of 2 foot sri sahibs and the bana...then they are attacking the very amrit sanchar that they took amrit at where the sarbloh bata would have been used, where the Punj Pyaray would have had "nangiya lata" and worn 3 foot sri sahibs.

Like GurSa Singh said above its not about an individuals viewpoint it's about respecting each other and trying to understand each other. Instead of going all autocratic and banning, there's needs to be openess where things are discussed and reasoned......

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SMS camp don't allow any sewadars who are attached to a jatha, taksaal or dal as a lecturer. It's a shame as they mis out on some good english speaking parcharaks. They r a bit narrow minded so the ban on bibekis doesn't surprise me. Theres plenty other camps which are Gursikh friendly this summer.

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Do they any link with Missionary College of punjab -in ludhiana?

Not sure if they are now linked to Missionary College of punjab -in ludhiana....but Sikh Missionary Society U.K. (Regd.) originally started off by some serious Gurmukhs of the 1970's who had settled in the UK and realised that English literature was the only way to connect the next generations. During the 1970 and 1980's they filled an essential gap in the Sikhi parchar towards the English born Sikhs by printing free literature and distributing it around the UK.

The problem is like many other Sikh organisations aiming at parchar they did not evolve with the times and remained stuck in their 1970's way of doing parchaar. Simply getting uncle ji who can speak English to regurgitate some text book passages that he read in the library about Sikhism doesn't inspire children. The kids of today have deeper intellect than their parents did due to education and their exposure to TV/Internet. What they fail to realise is that even today's 8 year olds know what the term "kaam" means yet these uncles/aunties blush when it comes to explaining the 5 chors and kaam to them.

Kids & teenagers need depth and experiences of Sikhi. They can read all the english literature on Sikhi that exists out there...but until they meet and interact with Gurmukhs who project the reni/beni of Sikhi...Gurmukhs who inspire them by showing that rehat can be kept, Gurmukhs who express their Sikhi through their roop and actions..nothing changes. These kids can go these camps every year for 10 years and still find Sikhi boring!

There's so many UK born Gurmukhs who can inspire these kids, who can even inspire the kids parents....but camp groups like Sikh Missionary Society U.K restrict their involvement by outcasting them or belittling them for their way of life.....

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I personally found the uncles ji's on featherstone road very welcoming. I only recently have got into Sikhi I still have a hair cut but they never looked down on me and have been very understanding, as I am married to a none Sikh. They have given my kids free books also.

Obviously with time things change. So if there are people out there who feel they can connect with the kids and perform the gurmat veechar, why do you not contact the Sikh missionary society and offer your seva. Please expalin to them how you can benefit the future generation. The uncles are understanding and their aim is to educate the future generations. If you feel you can perform the task I am sure they will not refuse your help.

With regards to the sarbloh bibeki ban I feel I am in no postioin to comment. I only wanted to highlight the good work of the uncle jis of welcoming all.

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This camp is not affiliated or linked to the Ludhiana Sikh Missionary College. The original founders who wished to do Parchaar and make Gurmat literature available to the Sangat used the name "missionary" in the sense of "parchaar". But perhaps the word's meaning has changed over time and needs to be looked at.

In regards to the camp itself, some of the same uncles and youngsters who are involved in the Sikh Student Camp which has now rebranded as 'Sikh Summer Retreat' after all the embarrassment they caused themselves are involved in the Sikh Missionary Society camp. Perhaps this is a reflection of their stand on Gurmat.

The current Sikh Missionary Camp is described by people who have been there as "a Punjabi Camp" where little or no emphasis on the importance of of Rehit, Amrit-vela, or Gurbani vichaar. The uncles are totally disconnected from reality and don't want to let go of their positions despite outgrowing the sewa.

It would be nice if the camp moved on with the times and the uncles embraced Gursikhs who could do sewa at the camp and the sangat could benefit but they totally detest anyone affiliated or associated with DamDami Taksal and I know people have been asked on the phone whether they follow or support DamDami Taksal before being allowed to go to the camp to do sewa. Similarly, they don't like anyone associated with Akhand Kirtani Jatha or anyone who observes Bana and dietary Rehit to be part of the camp and to do any type of sewa because following "strict" Rehit may "confuse" or "mislead" campers. It sometimes feels like they are more happy for KFC eating "loose" Amritdharis to come and sewa at camp rather than Gursikhs who take Sikhi seriously and are "living" Sikhi.

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  • 2 weeks later...

wjkk wjkf

I have just come across this thread. My neice went to the camp and she told me that it was a " Punjabi Camp " rather than a " Gurmat Camp ". The majority of group leaders were non-Amritdharis who didn't seem to inspire any of the campers to take Amrit and follow Guru Ji's Rahit.

My neice told me that there is one Gursikh young bibi )which I assume is the same Gursikh Bibi mentioned in the initial post who was refused to make food in the kitchen and was also refused to have anyone bring her food from outside of the camp) The Bibi went to sleep hungry for the first day and the rest of the week she ate pasta brought to her by Bhai Navreet Singh from a local Gursikh's house on Tuesday and ate it for the whole week. She had to keep the pasta in room instead of keeping it in the kitchen fridge because of the intolerance and lack of respect shown by the organisers and kitchen sewadars. Although I'm not Amritdhari it makes me feel sick and disgusted that someone can treat another human being like this. If someone is following a Rahit that they wish to eat from Amritdharis or cook their own food then why should they be all food and made to starve and eat in secrecy? Where is the piaar and tolerance?

The comments about Taksalis and AKJs not being allowed in the camp and sewadars being cancelled last minute because they keep Rahit which makes the organisers feel insecure about themselves is clear discrimination which people like the BNP would do! I wouldn't expect this BNP type of thinking to be found in people organising a " Gurmat Camp ".

My neice also told me that Bhai Navreet Singh did a really good talk on Monday and Tuesday but apparently he had also been asked not to come to the camp last minute because he keeps Sarbloh Rahit but he still came. My neice was very inspired and gave up eating meat hearing Bhai Sahib's talk. Sadly one of the organiser uncles, Bahadur Singh, kept emphasising throughout the whole camp and discussions that Sikhs can eat anything they want as long as it is not Halaal. It seems that the camp would prefer camps to eat Mc Donalds and Burger King than allow people who keep some discipline in what they eat to attend the camp or do sewa.

I hope something can be done about this camp as it sends a wrong impression to campers.

Really upset and disappointed.

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Some good and some bad experiences. I was talking to some kids who attended the SMS camp. Fortunately, despite the likes of Bahadur Singh and others, these kids actually enjoyed the camp. Most of the clever ones switched off when Bahadur rattled on about himself and his amazing view on the world. It's funny how all the kid mention the "weird" Bahadur Singh before anything else.

There is a problem though and that is no other group or Gurdwara in the UK is doing a 7 day sleep over Sikh Camp for children for that age group. So by default, SMS camp will be the first option of parents who are looking for that kind of camp regardless of the poor quality of the parchaar, living conditions and the bad attitudes.

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During the camp there was an issue between some female campers and a young female Sewadar. The issue was that girls, aged 16 and 17, were saying that their female Sewadar cuts her eyebrows and how it is wrong considering as she representing the 'Gurmat Camp'.

On the morning of Saturday 31st August, the female sewadar decided to 'punish' the girls for asking her why she cuts her eyebrows by making them clean the toilets. The girls were given bleach to clean the toilets. Not having done this before or used bleach before, they began using the bleach to clean the toilets as you would any other cleaning liquid. The sewadar gave no health and safety guidance etc. The girls got bleach on their hands and one somehow got bleach wiped on their arm which ended up burning their hands and arm.

The girls were in agonizing pain and clearly distressed and were taking to the first aid room. The girls were kept there for 4 hours with the door shut. The camp sewadars told them they are banned from telling anyone about the incident and that this should not escape the room. The girls were reluctant to even till their parents! When the girls told what happened to them they were crying and really upset at how they were treated at the camp.

If the SMS Camp sewadars cut their eyebrows which is seems to be the case for the majority then perhaps they should look within themselves and accept there wrong doings and aim to be decent role models rather than bullying and punishing campers for speaking the truth

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