Reflections on Bhujangi 2011

Bhujangi_Jakara___Tshirt.JPGGuest-blogged by Mewa Singh.  Mewa Singh is a sevadar with the Jakara Movement.

The term ‘bhujang’ has a Sanskritic base and is used to refer to a small snake.  The Mughals and Afghans of the 18th century employed the term as a pejorative to refer to the Sikhs as ‘bhujangs.’  Try as they might, they could never completely ‘eradicate’ from the garden these ‘bhujangs.’  In the eternal optimism that defines the spirit of chardikala, the Singhs and Kaurs of the period appropriated the term and endorsed it to give it a new connotation.  Their young were in fact ‘bhujangs’ that would bite the feet of Mughals, Afghans, and other imperial powers.  Today the term is still widely used by Nihang Sikhs in reference to their offspring.  A young Sikh boy is called a ‘bhujangi’ and a young Sikh girl a ‘bhujangan’.

Reviving and reinterpreting our historic terminology were part of the naming process of this unique camp.

With the Guru’s Grace, from August 1-10, I had the opportunity to be a sevadar for the Jakara Movement’s first annual Bhujangi Youth Academy.  Unlike anything else in our community before, the academy specifically served the needs of at-risk young Punjabi Sikh males.

Days were long, often beginning at 6am and not ending until 10pm.  Nitnem, classes on Sikh philosophy, history, Gurmukhi, survival skills (building a fire, purifying water, wilderness first aid, etc.), and even life skills (wrapping a present, ironing a shirt, sewing a button, etc.) were all part of the day’s work.  In addition there were emotional growth classes that sought to address topics far too often taboo in our community – anger, anxiety, and even depression.  Afternoon activities included hiking, swimming, paintballing, and even horseback riding.

Nine young men from throughout California came together to form ‘a tribe called Bhujangi’.  Themes were centered around Seva, Simran, Sangat, Santokh, and Shaheedi.  On a personal level it was one of the most rewarding Jakara Movement projects in some time.  What makes it so unique is connecting with those children that are not part of the ‘normal’ Punjabi/Khalsa school crowd.  The love these youth developed for each other and for Gurbani was amazing (from the beginning of the camp where counselors would recite Japji Sahib and the Bhujangis would listen, to 10 days later where the Bhujangis could do it completely on their own!).

292910_10150292951852958_501602957_7814492_4924115_n.jpgThe Jakara Movement hopes to make this an annual affair with the Bhujangi Youth Academy 2012, tentatively scheduled for late July/early August 2012.

TLH has opened an opportunity for me to share some insights in the comment section – specifics can be addressed in the comment section.  I’ll open that up here and publish another blog about some general reflections and questions that I hope spark up conversations in our community.

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10 Responses to “Reflections on Bhujangi 2011”

  1. Kirpal Singh says:

    There is another word called"Bhuchangi & Bhuchangan" to refer to Sikh children instead of "Bhujang & Bhujangan."Could anyone explain the difference please?Thank you!

  2. Mewa Singh says:

    @Kirpal Singh – you are probably referring to the same word – the difference is in the transliteration. The word in Gurmukhi is spelled – ??????

  3. […] about some general reflections and questions that I hope spark up conversations in our community.…bhujangi-2011/ What are your immediate thoughts or reactions to this issue? Why not share your views with our […]

  4. Meena says:

    Thank you for this article and for this initiative! May Waheguru bless you all, we need more Sikhs like these.

  5. balmeet says:

    Excellent initiative… hope to see this expand in the coming years.

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