Celebrations of Biji Surinder Kaur’s 80th birthday
On the occasion of Biji Surinder Kaur‘s 80th birthday, many people from East and West gathered in Kirpal Sagar on March 10.
The programme started at ten o’clock at the place where Biji had held her last address on March 10, 2016. Recordings of Satsang lectures revived remembrances. To begin, a Satsang of Sant Kirpal Singh was played in Punjabi, in which he explained hymns from Holy Scriptures recited by the Pathi (singer). Then, a tape was played wherein Dr. Harbhajan Singh spoke about what it means to celebrate the birthday of saints: to change our lives according to the words of Christ: “If you love me, keep my commandments”. In the recording that was heard from Biji, she stressed that it is of great importance that a woman should be developed, because she can develop the whole family.
She gave the example of Sant Kirpal Singh’s mother, who always prepared the meal in loving memory of God, reciting from the Gita and the Ramayana. Before eating, she told the children to close their eyes and think lovingly of God, God would give them something. Then she placed small coins in their plates. In this way the children got the habit of sitting quietly with their eyes closed in anticipation of the coin. One day she stopped that practice and the children asked her if God would not give them any more coins now. She replied, “Now you will receive the coins inside” and encouraged the children to pray. The time came when they all developed a yearning to meet God within. In this way, his mother brought Sant Kirpal Singh on the way to God. All three brothers and the sister promised each other that whoever came in contact with Him first would tell the others immediately. So it is in the hands of the woman to create heaven for her family.
Biji also spoke about Kirpal Sagar and reminded everyone that Dr. Harbhajan Singh always said that it should be a platform for all people to pray here and remember God. Here we should get Naam, the food for our life.
Afterwards a poem and very beautiful shabads (hymns) were recited.
Finally, the chairman of Unity of Man India, Karamjit Singh, spoke. He referred to the tape of Biji and related how Biji’s mother, a simple woman, had worked in silence when the Manav Kendra centre was built and with her devotion she gained Sant Kirpal Singh’s love and recognition.
He concluded by saying that the birthday is changing into Barsi (commemoration day on March 19th), as both days are so close together. But still we can say “Happy Birthday”, because we have received the gift of Kirpal Sagar.
“Daughters of Punjab”
Afterwards, everybody went to the Kirpal Sagar Academy where a tent was set up for the second part of the programme; “Daughters of Punjab” which is celebrated every year on this day. The event had already started the day before on the stage of the new Cultural Heritage Centre, so this year the competition lasted for two days. It included dances, declamations, lectures, demonstrations of traditional handicraft techniques and the preparation of regional dishes. Mrs. Sarabjit Mangat, actress and cultural ambassador for Punjab, lead the programme.
When the competition continued on March 10th, the director of B. Ed. College gave a committed speech for women’s rights and expressed that women cannot be called the weaker sex, as they are actually the foundation of society.
In the first round, the girls could show their talents. They sang folk songs, enacted sketches that provoked laughter, and performed Punjabi folk dances with great verve.
Five judges assessed the performances: Ms. Dolly Malkin, who runs her own fashion label, the former Miss India, Ms. Roopam Gareval, Dr. Veenakshi Sharma of Delhi University, Mrs. Lakwinder Mangat and Mr. Akash Mangat. They encouraged the girls through their speeches and were themselves a living example that as a woman one can achieve a lot.
The guests of honour also held addresses, including a well-known writer who had received an award for her work from the President of India.
At about 14:30, the second round of the Daughters of Punjab competition began. Here the girls had to speak on current topics such as agriculture, global warming and the world situation. Then they had to answer a question they had drawn by lot. These were about culture, religion, etc.
Karamjit Singh stressed in his speech that one can achieve a lot with a strong will. As an example he told about a boy who absolutely wanted to be admitted to Kirpal Sagar Academy but did not speak English, only Punjabi. At first they had great doubts, but then they thought that elderly people who emigrate to Canada can learn the language in half a year, so why shouldn’t he be given a chance, too? The boy worked so hard that after two years he was one of the best students and today he holds a highly decorated post in the USA.
Mrs. Mangat, who is very committed to this programme, had often talked with Biji Surinder Kaur about the deeper meaning of the Day of the Daughters of Punjab and it is her concern to convey this to the girls. Beyond dancing and singing, she wants to teach them how a woman can develop fully, just as Biji herself was perfect in everything. She also said: “Women are not weak, they have given birth to saints. No burden is too heavy for women. When they develop, many problems will cease to exist.”
Celebrations March 19, 2020
During the birthday celebrations, many people gathered at Kirpal Sagar. A few days later, the worldwide crisis also made itself felt here in India. The programme had to be limited, as the government had directed that no major events should be held. So it was a smaller circle which assembled in the memory of Biji and the Satsang took place in between two parts of the Guru Granth Sahib final reading.
The music teacher of the Kirpal Sagar Academy again recited two solemn shabads, and after a poem, a shabad was recited about Biji and the true mother.
Especially those who had been here in Biji’s last days had the memories of that time before their eyes. Karamjit Singh reminded, among other things, how much Biji cared for Kirpal Sagar until the end and that it was always her wish that everything should be clean and radiant, not only the exterior, but our whole being. He also referred to the present situation and that in times like now it is especially important to develop inner strength of the soul. Often we say that we do not have time when it comes to the really important things. But it is important to recognize what really counts in life.
In the evening, the programme was concluded with a film.
Here are some more photos of Kirpal Sagar at this time of the year: