“Volunteering Is Good For The Soul”

Shifting focus from the hoopla surrounding this year’s Surrey’s Vaisakhi Nagar Kirtan, I found just a nice piece highlighting one Sikh Granthi’s service. While we often comment onGiani_Narinder_Singh_20080330.jpg those granthis that are corrupt, perverse, and all kinds of bad adjectives that I could list, I still believe that this is the exception not the rule. Unfortunately, their actions have maligned many. Here is Surrey’s Granthi Narinder Singh that is letting his actions at the local hospital speak:

The elderly lady with the long grey hair was furious. The stroke that had confined her to a wheelchair and restricted her ability to move had also left her unable to speak. But her eyes were flashing with indignation and she was clearly greatly offended about something. She kept pointing at her chest.

Singh, who regularly visited the hospital to conduct religious services for Sikh patients, had forged a friendly relationship with the dignified older woman, evolving an improvised sign language to communicate.

She would even let him comb her hair, something she refused to permit the nurses to do. He could see the problem right away. Someone, probably a well-meaning nurse, had buttoned up the lady’s sweater for her, but got the buttons in the wrong order. Her garb was crooked and she didn’t have enough mobility in her hands to fix it. Singh re-buttoned the sweater properly. She smiled, threw her arms wide and hugged him.

I have often had these conversations with a number of Sikh friends and family. What is the level of our civic engagement in our community?  How does civic engagement amongst Sikh youth compare to others? Are we more involved or less? Are there gender differences? Does engagement peak in high schools in our community? Is bhangra overwhelmingly the extracurricular activity of choice at the collegiate level to the detriment of other forms of political or civic engagement?

I know for me, when I was in college, bhangra participation did take much of my time. I don’t think I ever let it overwhelm other political interests that I had, but it definitely consumed much time and energy. Other thoughts from the post-undergrad crowd? What about those that are still in college? How/where do you volunteer?


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17 Responses to ““Volunteering Is Good For The Soul””

  1. Sundari says:

    What a lovely and refreshing post. I understand that Granthi's have lots to do to keep themselves busy – but often times I wonder why they don't visit hospitals and nursing homes more often. When my grandmother was in a nursing home, I know just how much it would have meant to her to have a Granthi visit and speak with her.

    As for our community, I tend to agree that Sikhs of our generation are not as actively engaged in our community (ie. they are involved but perhaps not actively). We are definitely hearing more about Sikh activists who are bringing change through their organizations such as Sikhcess and Sikh Giving, and hopefully this is the activism we will continue to see in our community. Sikhs Against Genocide is an organization created by and for Sikh youth and Save Darfur has been one of the main campaigns for the group. This is a good example of being involved with issues that affect all of humanity and not only Sikhs.

    Personally for me, I have always been passionate about certain issues and from a young age have been actively involved in organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Over the years, this passion has transformed into activism with Sikh organizations. For me, it was a natural progression, but being involved with those organizations from an early age definitely planted a seed.

  2. Sundari says:

    What a lovely and refreshing post. I understand that Granthi’s have lots to do to keep themselves busy – but often times I wonder why they don’t visit hospitals and nursing homes more often. When my grandmother was in a nursing home, I know just how much it would have meant to her to have a Granthi visit and speak with her.

    As for our community, I tend to agree that Sikhs of our generation are not as actively engaged in our community (ie. they are involved but perhaps not actively). We are definitely hearing more about Sikh activists who are bringing change through their organizations such as Sikhcess and Sikh Giving, and hopefully this is the activism we will continue to see in our community. Sikhs Against Genocide is an organization created by and for Sikh youth and Save Darfur has been one of the main campaigns for the group. This is a good example of being involved with issues that affect all of humanity and not only Sikhs.

    Personally for me, I have always been passionate about certain issues and from a young age have been actively involved in organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Over the years, this passion has transformed into activism with Sikh organizations. For me, it was a natural progression, but being involved with those organizations from an early age definitely planted a seed.

  3. Singh says:

    WONDERFUL post. The post made me think of all of the Granthi Singh's I have known growing up…we forge unforgettable bonds with these people who devote their lives to helping us understand our faith and scripture.

    Thanks for posting!

  4. Singh says:

    WONDERFUL post. The post made me think of all of the Granthi Singh’s I have known growing up…we forge unforgettable bonds with these people who devote their lives to helping us understand our faith and scripture.

    Thanks for posting!

  5. simran says:

    Thank you for the post! It is inspirational. I feel we can all take some time out even if it is an hour a week to volunteer.

  6. simran says:

    Thank you for the post! It is inspirational. I feel we can all take some time out even if it is an hour a week to volunteer.

  7. ItsMe says:

    This is the first time I've ever really heard anything positive about a granthi sahib. In all honesty the lack of activism is due to the fact that most (not all) Gurdwara heads (committee's ,granthi's, parents) are not prime examples of social activism (or simply put seva) beyond the norm of langar and paath. Its all limited to within the gurdwara.

    What Narinder Singh is offering is a new flavour of Seva. I feel the the community Narinder Singh services as a Granthi could use this to really start a great social program. Especially incorporating this seva as a part of earning community service credit I believe high schoolers still need to complete in BC. (if not Canada) This would a be a great sucess since this could be consider a part of his service(job) description.

    New Ads for Granth in desi news paper – Wanted Granthi Sahib who leads the congregation on normal services. Provides Assistance with education programs run by voluntaries. Helps to implement and or create new social service programs benefiting the sangat and the community at large.

    That'll be the day that we have a walker not a talker as the Gurdware and Community care takers. I am sure the rest of you out there have had some experiences good or bad out there with Granthi's any other positive examples out there like Narinder Singh?

    Sorry for the poor grammar posted in a hurry at work.

  8. ItsMe says:

    This is the first time I’ve ever really heard anything positive about a granthi sahib. In all honesty the lack of activism is due to the fact that most (not all) Gurdwara heads (committee’s ,granthi’s, parents) are not prime examples of social activism (or simply put seva) beyond the norm of langar and paath. Its all limited to within the gurdwara.

    What Narinder Singh is offering is a new flavour of Seva. I feel the the community Narinder Singh services as a Granthi could use this to really start a great social program. Especially incorporating this seva as a part of earning community service credit I believe high schoolers still need to complete in BC. (if not Canada) This would a be a great sucess since this could be consider a part of his service(job) description.

    New Ads for Granth in desi news paper – Wanted Granthi Sahib who leads the congregation on normal services. Provides Assistance with education programs run by voluntaries. Helps to implement and or create new social service programs benefiting the sangat and the community at large.

    That’ll be the day that we have a walker not a talker as the Gurdware and Community care takers. I am sure the rest of you out there have had some experiences good or bad out there with Granthi’s any other positive examples out there like Narinder Singh?

    Sorry for the poor grammar posted in a hurry at work.

  9. Phulkari says:

    After reading this post on volunteering I recently came across a brief article on Sikh women knitting clothing in Scotland to give to the poor in India.

    A GROUP of Sikh women in Leith are getting together to knit clothes for the poor in India.

    Graham Chapman, chairman of Leith Harbour and Newhaven Community Council, said: "One of their numerous goals is to personally deliver many of their items to poor people in India."

    The drive is part of an initiative co-ordinated by the Sikh Sanjog support group.

    It's nice to see a group of Sikh women volunteering by creating items with their own hands for others. A form of seva outside of the Gurdwara setting or children's schooling. A good compliment to the common old suit-drives!

  10. Phulkari says:

    After reading this post on volunteering I recently came across a brief article on Sikh women knitting clothing in Scotland to give to the poor in India.

    A GROUP of Sikh women in Leith are getting together to knit clothes for the poor in India.
    Graham Chapman, chairman of Leith Harbour and Newhaven Community Council, said: “One of their numerous goals is to personally deliver many of their items to poor people in India.”

    The drive is part of an initiative co-ordinated by the Sikh Sanjog support group.

    It’s nice to see a group of Sikh women volunteering by creating items with their own hands for others. A form of seva outside of the Gurdwara setting or children’s schooling. A good compliment to the common old suit-drives!

  11. Harinder says:

    I guess it is theoreticallly better to teach Indian families how to Knit rather than Knitting for them .

  12. Harinder says:

    I guess it is theoreticallly better to teach Indian families how to Knit rather than Knitting for them .

  13. Such wonderful words.

    There is some much one can do to help others.

    Schools, hospitals, orphanges to name a few.

    The there are those that have a calling to travel abroad to help out, to work in developing countries. Living among the community in a spirit which is devine.

    The rewards are uplifting.

    Thank you for your article.

    Mark

  14. Such wonderful words.

    There is some much one can do to help others.

    Schools, hospitals, orphanges to name a few.

    The there are those that have a calling to travel abroad to help out, to work in developing countries. Living among the community in a spirit which is devine.

    The rewards are uplifting.

    Thank you for your article.

    Mark

  15. kuldip singh says:

    You guys are lucky.
    Nearly all the time the Granthi is more interested in monetsry gain.

  16. We all do not know about the need of the soul and this is the bad fact of the life as well. We all have to do the struggle for the life or to know about the need of the soul as well. These lists of the need will tell the man to what to give to the soul of the man in the life.

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