Darbar-E-Khalsa is our Christmas Celebrations
It was Decemeber 25th, 2012. A very big day in our family. Not because of Christmas but because of Darbar-E-Khalsa. We don't have to wake up our kids, they wake us up. Let's go dad, let's go mom, I could hear the excitement in our younger ones voice. I want to go meet 'Baba on the wheels'. If you don't know him, he is the gentleman on the skates with a guitar singing Waheguru and Guru Raamdas and Happy Gurpurab and distributing candies. His name is Harnar Singh. You can't miss him.. I have learnt over the years, he is a big star on Venice Beach and even has been in many films.
So the car got loaded and we started an hour long drive to Fairplex Pomona. This is how our Guruji's birthday should be celebrated: in style. While driving there, kids were chattering among themselves of whom they are going to meet and what they are going to do. Our eldest one had his 'Bana' on for his Gatka participation and our daughter was looking forward to meeting her friends. It's a tradition. We all get together at Darbar-E-Khalsa. It's our Christmas if that makes any sense.
As our car pulled into the parking lot of LA fairgrounds where Darbar-E-Khalsa was organized, the excitement grew. As we approached the parking attendant, with a smile, he handed us a ticket and the 'Schedule of the Day' along with other information. As I was parking, our younger one saw the tram and got excited. Let's go, I want to get on the tram and so we all did. As we got off it, our little one ran towards the 'Baba on the wheels'... screaming candy man!
As always, the place was beautifully decorated and everywhere one could see a sea of turbans. So we took a vote, do we take our shoes off first and go 'Matha Tek' or go eat first. It was the former. We got in the long line of shoes and after taking them off we went past the Reception area.
My eyes were desparately looking to grab a glimpse of Papaji who had started this beautiful tradition 27 years ago. A bear hug from him is what I always looked forward to but for the past two Darbar-E-Khalsa that hasn't happened as he is not among us anymore. It seems like yesterday when 27 years ago I had migrated from India and came to the first Darbar-E-Khalsa in La Habra Heights. Even then this was a grand celebration. That's when I had met Papaji for the first time. I wasn't even married then. Ever since then the bond and love for this dynamite personality grew in my heart. For many years, I was a regular at IIGS house bi-weekly programs. Anticipation of meeting him, made the drive go by fast. Today, I see his sons, their families and other IIGS members carrying on the tradition of serving the community.
Our family was greeted with the same warmth that we all were so used to. Red Carpet welcomed us as we entered the building 6 and as we walk towards the hall, one goes through a variety of stalls on both sides. As we enter Babaji's room, the grandeur of the occasion begins to sink in. Wow is the word that comes to mind looking at the amazing decorations. Hall was packed to the brim and multiple lines of Sangat were coming all the way out of the hall.
It took almost 40 minutes before we could pay our obeisance to Sri Guru Granth Sahib. After listening to beautiful Kirtan for a while, we all came out to taste different yummiest of foods. We came out to enjoy the many delicacies that were served all over the place. As we stood in the lines, soaking in the beautiful day, one could look at the snow covered mountainous range in the back.
There was a big crowd gathering on one side as the gatka team was getting ready to perform. On the other side, long lines were forming for langar. The family decided to split. My eldest son decided to go for Gatka and my daughter disappeared in the crowd of sangat with her friends. She was going to help with the shoe sewa and my younger one took some money and went to the stalls to buy something that caught his eye. My wife and I stood in the line for cholle bathure and Nan. There was fresh jalebi, gol guppai and a lot of other stuff.
While in line, we ran into our friends and family and soon we were all meeting and greeting each other. Before long, the day long celebrations were coming to an end. We all went in to join in the Ardas. This year, the ardas was dedicated to those who died in Wisconsin Sikh Temple and Newtown Connecticut school massacre. I also noticed a young girl capturing signatures on a big card for the victims of Newtown school students.
After the Hukamnama, Babaji was carried in this beautiful Palki amidst the chant of Waheguru Waheguru Waheguru to the helicopter waiting to receive Babaji's swaari and take it home. This year, I too got a chance to get close and carry babaji's palki. As we walked passed the sangat to the helicopter, it seemed not a single soul was willing to leave before waving good bye to Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji.
After waving good byes, we too headed for the car and before long we were heading home. Kids were busy sharing their experiences and I couldn't help wondering what our lives would be without Darbar-E-Khalsa. Thank you Papaji for this beautiful gift to our family!