Chai And A Chat #28 #ChaiAndAChat

Hey there Peeps! Time for our weekly catch up!

  • If we were sipping chai together I’d tell you – The IN-LAWS are back!!! They arrived on Wednesday night, late and were very tired but glad to be home, and we were glad to have them back too!
  • If we were sipping chai together I’d tell you that I have truly embraced the Spring holidays, as should everyone. On Monday, Tuesday and most of Wednesday, I did nothing apart from read! I think I got thought around 6-7 books ! Of course I didn’t totally neglect my family. I took the kids out briefly, fed them, did a bit of housework and laundry, but the rest of the time, I was either in bed or on my sofa, with a cuppa and my Kindle! What bliss! And the plan is to continue reading more until the end of the break!
  • If we were sipping chai together I’d say that I have started to be a bit more active on Twitter as part of the #Writing Community and I think I had as close as I will ever get to a viral tweet… in that there was loads of interaction!
  • If we were sipping chai together I’d mention that we had to take Sonu Singh to the vet for his annual vaccinations and check up, and it was reported that he is getting rather big… as in heavy. Now, Sonu is a house cat so his natural exercise is not as much as an outdoor cat. I limit his food intake, but there are some who like to sneak him treats… because he asks for them (big softie, my Hubby Dearest!) but this time he put on, in six months, the equivelant of two stone in a human, so something’s gotta give… reduction of food, and being hard to the constant miaows… not easy when we are on break and he is just there, looking at you… And with Lil Man asking to give treats, as it looks like he must have already lost lots of weight in 3 days… just look at those eyes…
  • If we were sipping chai together I’d say that we decided to travel much lighter for our Center Parcs trip this weekend. I’m fed up of packing for every eventuality, and too much food, so we decided to wing it… Actually, as you read this, we are probably on our way home!
  • If we were sipping chai together I’d tell you there was a bit of traffic.. but we arrived safely, and though not sunny, it was dry. The Accomodation is fine, enough for us, with the kids getting their own rooms, but only one bathroom between all four of us… I’m sure we’ll cope!
  • If we were sipping chai together I’d tell you our lodge was in a beautiful spot and we have been able to really enjoy nature, with various birds, squirrels and even deer were on our patio, feeding on our birdseed! We have Street-Karted, played badminton, the kids have perfected their Pool game and enjoyed swimming too. And Me? Well, As I promised myself, I have read, read and read!
  • If we were sipping chai together I’d have to add that as a last minute change, I would be doing the driving, as Hubby Dearest managed to possibly rip his Achilles Tendon whilst playing Badminton… That means I have to drive… his huge automatic car… and I’m scared!
  • If we were sipping chai together I’d tell you that for the first time on a long while, we missed the Vaisakhi Nagar Kirtan on Saturday. This is a religious parade that celebrates the Birth of the Khalsa in Sikhism. It is usually a great day filled with spirituality, commeraderie food and fun! My children used to be on the trailers at the back, playing their drums, but they have since grown up and are too big to do this apparently now, according to them!
  • If we were sipping that chai together, and possibly reaching for cake or cookies I’d tell you I might just have to pop into school to make sure we are all set for the first week back… but I might not!
  • If we were sipping that chai togetherand possibly reaching for cake or cookies I’d mention that seeing as we missed the Vaisakhi parade here this year, we will be visiting the temple at some point this week to pay our respects.
  • If we were sipping that chai togetherand possibly reaching for cake or cookies I’d say I am hoping to enjoy the last week of the break,a nd hopefully not eat too many chocolate eggs on Easter weekend!

Have a wonderful week, Peeps! Let me know how your week went!

Happy Vaisakhi everyone!

It is Vaisakhi today, an event with several meanings to different cultures and religions.

Happy Vaisakhi

Happy Vaisakhi

It is celebrated by Hindus and Buddhists as part of welcoming the new solar year in.

But it is extremely important to the Punjabi community and the Sikh religion.  The time of Vaisakhi, or Baisakhi, as some say it, is a traditional harvest festival, and as the Punjab is a large farming area, it is a cause for celebration, when the crops are harvested, people dance, and have fun, they do Bhangra, sing and dance, and generally celebrate the freedom they will now have, after a successful (hopefully) harvest. But before all this fun and laughter, they use this time to pray, and thank God for the good harvest, and to pray for the future crops too.

As a Sikh it holds a great importance too.  Way back in 1699, our 10th Guru, Guru Gobind Singh Ji laid the foundations of the Panth Khalsa, or the Order of the Pure ones, and so it is the birth of the Khalsa, and Sikhism as we know it now.

Guru Gobind Singh Ji's Khalsa Panth

Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s Khalsa Panth

On this day many people who may not be baptised into full Sikhism, choose to do this, known as Amrit Shakna.  This is basically that you are drinking the holy nectar, Amrit, and you pledge to be a true Sikh, as above, remembering the 5 Kakar’s (the 5 K’s).

Kesh – Uncut Hair, you remain as God intended you to be, be thankful for what God gave you, do not be ashamed.

Kangha – A wooden comb worn in the hair, to keep you tidy, and presentable at all times, a symbol of cleanliness.

Kara – A steel bangle acting as a constant reminder of a Sikh’s mission on this Earth, to do good, and help others. It is an external symbol of our faith. Being a continuous circle, it shows a Sikh’s unbreakable attachment to God. It was also used in self defence, and originally was part of a type of coat of arms, to protect the arms in battles.

Kirpan – A ceremonial dagger carried by baptised Sikhs, that is there to defend oneself, but more over to protect others regardless of race, colour or creed.

Kashera – a loose shorts like undergarment. Used to retain ones modesty, and cover your intimate parts, so as to always be proper, and also, as it is worn by both man and woman, it is a way to discourage looking at the opposite sex in an immoral way. It is tied with a naala, a drawstring, and the meaning for that is that if you were to be removing it to do anything improper, then untying the knot would give you time to think about what actions you are about to make…

We celebrated today by going to the Gurdwara to pay our respects.

Then on the weekend, there will be a large parade, the Nagar Kirtan, which slowly snakes around our town, and all the local community, Sikh or not, get involved! We place our holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib, in a specially made trailer, resembling the Golden Temple in Amritsar, and then there are people walking ahead, cleaning the road in advance. The Panj Pyare, or Five Loved/Blessed Ones, Walk ahead of this carriage.

Panj Pyare

Panj Pyare

This procession is attended by thousands, who come from far and wide to walk alongside, and behind the Guru Granth Sahib.

Ariel Image

Ariel Image

We walk behind, chanting holy songs, and walk through the town, and around the route there are people giving food and drink, to all. This is part of our Seva, or helping others that we are encouraged to do. Many people, in the lead up to Vaisakhi will visit the temple and donate items such as juice and sweets, which are distributed along the journey. Also, local businesses will arrange for hot food and drink along the route, for free, as their ‘seva’ for Vaisakhi.

Some of the many people who attend

Some of the many people who attend

Behind the main hoards of worshippers there are usually trailers for those that can’t walk the couple of miles that we travel, and also local sports teams or cultural clubs have their participants on board open sided lorries.  That’s where I’ll be, as I have been the last 4 years. Previously they were on a trailer together as they play the Dhol, (Punjabi Drum) with a local Bhangra team, but this year Lil Man is on a trailer with his football team, and Lil Princess will be sat with her Punjabi School classmates. I hope to get a seat somewhere as my feet may not cope with the long walk this year!

And we have Bhangra dancers, performing along the route at various stations.

Bhangra Dancers

Bhangra Dancers

It is a beautiful event, and there are Nagar Kirtans around the UK in places where there is a large Sikh community.  Hopefully, I’ll get some pictures on Saturday, which I can post for you!

But for now,

HAPPY VAISAKHI TO ONE AND ALL!

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh

(Wonderful Lord’s Khalsa, Victory is to the Wonderful Lord)

The Nagar Kirtan Parade This Year #Vaisakhi #NagarKirtan

Yesterday was the day  the Gravesend Sikh community celebrated the festival of Vaisakhi with a Nagar Kirtan, which is a religious parade where we take the holy book around the town. Thousands of people follow the parade, and at the back there are trailers filled with adults and children from various clubs and associations, like the Punjabi School, sports clubs, and my Kid’s Bhangra and Drum class!

The last few years I have been either walking, or sitting with them on their trailer, and this year was no different. It was a glorious day, and we had great fun.

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The end of the parade comes with prayers, and the Gurdwara set up a fair in their sports ground where there were stalls and rides, a stage with religious entertainment, including a famous Bhangra and religious singer, Sukhshinder Shinda.

And it was great to see my niece in her uniform, promoting the police force, and encouraging youngsters to join the police as a worthwhile career!

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And there was a large ‘Sikh’ wondering around too for some  reason!

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The Nagar Kirtan is famous for the amount of people who come here, but the other thing is the food. It is known as ‘Seva’ when local businesses serve food, drinks and snacks for free, as part of their donations to the temple, and there was plenty on the route of the parade, Pizza, pakoras and samosa, fresh jalebis and masala chai, chickpea curry and bhature, crisps, popcorn and sweets, along with drinks. Then at the playing field there were marquees set up by local catering countries for more delicious delicacies, like masala dosa, curry and rice, bread pakora, and pizza again! Oh, and cake!!!

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We had great weather, it was a lovely day! Ok, so the kids may have been bouncing off walls and ceilings from a sugar high, but hey, it’s Vaisakhi!!!

In fact when I unpacked my bag, this was what I came home with…

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I had to dress for the occasion… obviously!

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And even Sonu Singh joined in (at home!).

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Visiting the Gurdwara Today

It’s not even 9.30am, and already we have been extremely spiritual, given the auspicious nature of the day today! As it is Vaisakhi, we usually go to the Gurdwara to pay our respects, and because we had to drop Hubby Dearest to the station today, it seemed a good idea to start the day in a religious way!

The Gurdwara this morning

The Gurdwara this morning

The flags are up, ready for the Nagar Kirtan, the religious procession that will be happening on Saturday.

The Chanda, the flag, to show that there is a Gurdwara here

The Chanda, the flag, to show that there is a Gurdwara here

Yup, that’s my two, standing at the base of the Chanda, the flag of the Khalsa, paying their respects before going inside.

The Entrance hall

The Entrance hall

It’s a beautiful building, and there is amazing wooden carved panels, brought over from India, where expert carvers created the panels.

One of the panels

One of the panels

As you go up one level there is a stained glass window, depicting the symbol ੴ, Ek Onkar, meaning there is one God.

Ek Onkar

Ek Onkar

Then the domes that you can see for the outside are decorated on the inside with mosaic work.

The Outer Dome

The Outer Dome

Then when you go inside the Darbar Sahib, to actually pay your respects, there is another stunning stained glass window, and the decorated area where the Guru Granth Sahib sits.

Prayers are happening

Prayers are happening

The stained glass window depicting the Khanda, our symbol of the Sikh faith

The stained glass window depicting the Khanda, our symbol of the Sikh faith

And again a beautiful dome with mosaic decoration.

The inner dome

The inner dome

We’re hoping to have a peaceful day now, at home, but there are still Karate lessons later!

Enjoy your day everyone!

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