2019 Winter Solstice Ministers’ Gathering Report
(reported by SS Sat Purkh Kaur Khalsa, Winter Solstice Gathering facilitator)
On December 18, 2018 a group of Sikh Dharma Ministers attending the 3HO Winter Solstice celebration gathered together in the Sikh Dharma International tent. It was our annual Winter Solstice Ministers’ Gathering, facilitated this year by new Sikh Dharma Minister SS Sat Purkh Kaur Khalsa.
The theme for the gathering was “Excelling with the Guru.” The Ministers enjoyed an energetic Kundalini yoga kriya to warm up the body. Then the Ministers practiced Hast Kriya: Earth to Heavens meditation to elevate their spirits.
After meditating, Ministers gathered in groups of three to discuss two questions posed by the facilitator:
1) How has your identity as a Minister helped to elevate those in your community or in the wider world?
2) Sound current or shabd is the most subtle and powerful way to effect change because it has the most leverage; it’s the most subtle of the elements (tattwas). What is your experience of using shabd to transform your own life or to support someone else in their transformation?
Serving Sikh Detainees
by SS Ek Ong Kaar Kaur Khalsa Michaud, Espanola NM
In this past year, the media and Sikh legal advocacy organizations have reported on a series of hunger strikes among Sikhs detained in ICE facilities. I recently communicated with Chaplains from two different ICE facilities who needed support for the Sikhs in their care. I learned that there are opportunities for us to make a positive impact through networking with Chaplains within ICE facilities in order to serve the spiritual needs of Sikh detainees.
In the fall of 2018, a member of the 3HO Texas sangat from Colombia was detained at an ICE facility in the Dallas, Texas area. There was a very brief window in which to communicate with him before he was deported. With my credentials as a current SDI Minister, I reached out to the Chaplain at the facility to ensure that our sangat member was receiving vegetarian meals and to arrange a ministerial visit.
Typically, if you visit someone in an ICE facility, you cannot be in the same room with the detainee. However, as an ordained Minister (with current Minister ID), if you come to perform a spiritual worship service of some kind, you will be allowed in the same room. There are certain guidelines. You need to pass a background check and do a training ahead of time. But the Chaplain can help arrange these things and then schedule a worship service for the Sikhs.
Because the Universe moves in Its own divine alignment, our 3HO Texas sangat member just happened to be at the Dallas ICE Facility during Guru Nanak’s birthday. Other Sikhs in the center were asking for a special celebration of some kind in honor of this special day. The Chaplain at the facility emailed me and asked if I could do something for Guru Nanak’s birthday for all the Sikhs there. I agreed.
It was quite a miraculous experience, I have to say. Firstly, the Sikh detainees did not realize I was a woman Minister until I arrived at the facility. But the Warden agreed to let me lead the service with the Sikh men even though this would never normally be done. (Usually, they only allow male ministers for the male detainees.)
I could not bring in anything made of metal. My kara and kirpan had to be left behind. Nor could I bring my guitar with me. But I could bring a picture of Guru Nanak, as long as it was not in a glass or metal frame. And I brought a small Siri Guru Granth Sahib with me.
Three Sikh men sat together in the multi-purpose room of the facility (one from India, one from Malaysia, and one from Colombia). We talked about Guru Nanak. I asked each of them to share their favorite stories of Guru Nanak with me.
It was quite amazing to watch the gathering transform into real sangat. I experienced this gathering as Guru Nanak’s sons from across the globe sharing their stories of the Guru with each other, laughing and connecting, even though they all must have felt tremendous anxiety about their futures. We ended by chanting the Mul Mantra for a few minutes and then reciting Japji Sahib together.
It is easy to get lost in online debates, perhaps looking to satisfy our need for conscious Dharmic action by trying to control what we think is wrong or bad in someone else. However, for those who have a longing to make a positive impact, I encourage you to get in touch with the Chaplain at your local ICE facility. You may find that without too much effort, you can make a difference.