Virtual Minister Vows in the Time of COVID-19
In this time of quarantine, the Secretary of Religion wanted to ensure that individuals seeking to become ordained Sikh Dharma Ministers would have the ability to take their Ministerial vows in a timely fashion.
With the advent of online meeting spaces, the Office of the Secretary of Religion (with approval from the Sikh Dharma International Board) made an historic decision this summer to offer “virtual” Minister vows.
Traditionally, Sikh Dharma Ministers have been administered their ordination vows at our Winter and Summer Solstices, as well as at the European and Chilean Yoga Festivals, and—in some rare cases—within their local sangats. This Ministerial ordination tradition began in 1971 and has continued for nearly 50 years, following the first “group” ordination ceremonies at the Summer Solstice celebrations in the early 1970s. So this shift to virtual vows is a “first” for Sikh Dharma.
First Virtual Minister Vows
The candidate who is the first to have taken virtual vows is SS Gururaj Singh Khalsa from Brasilia, Brazil.
He is quarantined alone, so he had arranged his home gurdwara and followed the instructions sent to him by the Secretary of Religion in preparation for receiving his Minister vows.
As the vows are traditionally performed in front of the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, Gururaj Singh needed to be able to attend the Guru (sitting behind the Guru and waving the chauri) and he also needed to bow before the Guru to complete his vows, while remaining visible on camera.
This presented a bit of a logistical/filming challenge and a gurdwara protocol “opportunity” that was met with flying colors by all parties!
For the presence of sadh sangat, Gururaj Singh was joined “virtually” by 19 guests from various parts of the world. SS Gurusangat Kaur of Belo Horizonte Brazil was on hand to assist with some Portuguese translations.
At the end of the ceremony, the guests stayed online to congratulate the new Minister. It was a joy-filled and exceptional event to mark an exceptional year!
Beyond Time and Space
We asked SS Gururaj Singh to comment afterwards on his experience. He replied: “New times demand new tools and skills to put the teachings into practice. No doubt about the power of a sacred altar surrounded by people who vibrate in your intention and who carry you on their own sacred altars to deliver you to the Guru (God, I miss surrendering my head to the Guru in Sangat!). But doing my Ministers vows online confirmed what I already suspected.
“The sacred space where the Guru manifests doesn’t know any limit of time and space. There’s no limit for love and support for and from the ones you care about. This I felt while taking my vows in the presence of the Siri Guru Granth Sahib who was very close to me during the ceremony and also with the presence of my sangat and people all around the world who joined online. Thank you so much to the Secretary of Religion to make this possible. Thank you to everyone who was vibrating in harmony with the Guru and with me at that moment. May my work in the service of the Guru represents the divine knowledge in the new times.”
Congratulations and Wahe Guru to SS Gururaj Singh as he embarks on his new role as an ordained Sikh Dharma International Minister.
It is exciting to see that we are paving the way for what we expect to be more “virtual” Minister activities in the coming months and years ahead.
Minister Receives Top Service Award
On Sunday, June 14, 2020, SS Guru Simran Kaur from Espanola, New Mexico, USA, received the Clara Barton Award from the American Red Cross for her volunteer work during natural disasters and times of crisis.
The award, named after the Red Cross founder, is the highest honor that the organization bestows on volunteers.
The American Red Cross provides emergency assistance, disaster relief, and disaster preparedness education in the United States. Their trained staff and volunteers (95%) stand ready to meet the immediate needs of food, shelter, clothing, medication replacement, and mental health counseling for people who are displaced by man-made or natural disasters.
Guru Simran Kaur is the founder of Food 4 Kids NM, a nonprofit organization whose mission it is to provide supplemental food to local schools so that underserved children do not go hungry.
Read here for full article…
Trauma-Informed Seva in Crisis and Disaster
During this global crisis, we are all experiencing the unexpected effects of the pandemic. Recently, the Office of the Secretary of Religion produced a training module entitled “Trauma-Informed Seva for Sikh Dharma Ministers in Crisis and Disaster.” This video was created in response to feedback from Ministers as one of the primary topics of interest for Minister Enrichment.
While we originally produced this video specifically to address disaster situations such as hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, or fire, it is also rich in helpful tools and information relevant for this pandemic—first and foremost for you as an individual and secondly to support you in helping those you serve in your capacity as a Minister of Sikh Dharma.
Enjoy this short trailer for our new Sikh Dharma Minister training module.
To watch the full one-hour training video and learn these important skills, go to Trauma-Informed Seva In Crisis and Disaster for Sikh Dharma Ministers.