By Surekha Vijh and S.S.Manku
Hundreds of people flocked the various places of worship in the metropolitan area including Sikh gurdwaras and Hindu temples, celebrating the festival of Lohri with gaiety.
People wore their traditional garments and smiles on their faces and celebrated the winter harvest festival, Lohri with fun fare. Indians wherever they go take their vivacious festivals with them.
Among the various religious places of worship, the Raj Khalsa Gurdwara, situated in Sterling Virginia wore a beautiful festive look. Started by the white Sikhs, as they are called, followers of Yogi Bhajan, it had the wonderful mix of Indians and Americans
The program stared with traditional Sukhmani Sahib recital and thenrecitals from the Guru Grant Sahib.the holy Sikh scripters. Bibi Amrjit Kaur lead the kirtan. The lectures were given in both Panjabi and English.
The program was followed by ‘langar’ a community meal. As per Lohri tradition a big bonfire was lit outside the gurdwara, where people sang traditional Panjabi songs like ‘sunder numdriye’. and other folk songs. All age groups were seen enjoying themselves. The participants also threw peanuts, pop corns and sesame seed candies into the fire… there were a few newly married couple, for them it was an occasion to rejoice, being their ‘first lohri”.
Raj khalsa tradition was originally started by Harbhajan Singh, also known as Yogi Bhajan and Siri Singh Sahib who came to the US in the sixties. Yogi Bhajan, was a yogi, spiritual teacher, and entrepreneur, who introduced Kundalini Yoga to the United States
The Raj Khalsa Gurdwara established a community that was based on Sikh and yogic practices. “The gurdwara was originally started 40 years ago, when there were not many Sikh places of worship, said Gursangat Singh, the founder of the Raj Khalsa.
“Yogi Bhajan inspired us to live per the Sikh way of life. We rose in the Amrit Vela to recite Japji Sahib, to practice yoga and meditation and to chant the Guru’s Bani,” addedGursangat Singh.
It was his mission to share the teachings of Kundalini Yoga and to help people live healthy, happy, and holy lives. The community attracted mostly young Americans who were spiritual seekers, and who wanted lives of meaning and service.
Yogi Bhajan also introduced them to the Sikh principles of Bana, Bani, Simran and Seva. Like Sikhs, they wear turbans and dress in noble bana. They studied Gurmukhi (Panjabiscript), learned Gurbani Kirtan, and immersed in the Sikh way of life…not just as a philosophy, but as a daily practice.