Daughters of Punjab

Birthday of Biji Surinder Kaur

Due to the relaxation of travel regulations, Kirpal Sagar can finally receive more guests again. Thus a visitor group from the West could also take part in the annual celebrations of Biji Surinder Kaur‘s birthday on March 10th. In the morning, everyone gathered in the courtyard of the Langar building.

In the solemn beginning, a recording of a speech by Sant Kirpal Singh in Hindi was heard. He spoke about God as the creator of all that exists, and, quoting from the Bible, “In the beginning was the Word…”, explained that the Word or Shabd is the power that created and sustains everything.

Sant Kirpal Singh had shaped Biji’s life and she was fully and wholly committed to fulfil his mission, together with Dr. Harbhajan Singh, Bhaji. So a recording by Dr Harbhajan Singh followed, in which he spoke about the importance of the birthday as an opportunity to reflect on ourselves and to remove our weaknesses. He called upon us not to be narrow-minded but to have a big heart. He further took up the subject that the Master is the Shabd form within that always accompanies us.

He reminded that in 1963, after the Cuban Missile Crisis, Sant Kirpal Singh was asked in America if the Third World War was coming. He replied, “The father cannot see his children dying.”

Then Biji was heard, speaking about the fragrance of spirituality and the thirst of the soul and about Anahat Bani, the inner sound. Her special, beautiful language is full of attraction, even if you don’t understand the words in Punjabi.

The music teacher of the Kirpal Sagar Academy sang two very beautiful hymns (shabads) about the Mother, the second one was so profound that everyone had tears in their eyes.

Finally Karamjit Singh, Chairman of Kirpal Sagar, told about the last Satsang of Biji in 2016 and how she still participated in the programme despite her health condition and then had to go to hospital. So the birthday and the day when she left the body are very close to each other. She always had Kirpal Sagar in her heart, it was Sant Kirpal Singh’s commission to build it as a platform for all.

“Daughters of Punjab” programme

After a common meal, everyone went to “Biji da Vehra”, the small cultural heritage centre for which Biji still had laid the foundation stone herself. This was the start of the programme for the annual “Daughters of Punjab” Day.

The advancement of women had been a special concern for Biji. Even in the time before they started Kirpal Sagar, she and Dr. Harbhajan Singh had accommodated orphaned or needy girls and supported them in all spheres of life.

Her intention was always that the women should develop comprehensively and carry spirituality into society through the family. For this, Biji herself was the outstanding example, in the highest spiritual sense as well as a mother and loving and accomplished housewife, and as the organiser of the entire project after Dr. Harbhajan Singh. With her human greatness, she impressed everyone who had the good fortune to meet her.

Due to the pandemic, the 2022 competition was a little smaller than usual. Days in advance, Kirpal Sagar had been polished and colourfully decorated by the students of the Kirpal Sagar Academy. Now about 20 participants presented with much talent and enthusiasm typical Punjabi dances, songs and small theatre scenes, showed cultural techniques such as henna painting and the preparation of chapatis (flat breads) and gave their opinion on randomly drawn topics.

One young woman, for example, spoke beautifully about the topic how true happiness does not depend on having a house and a car, but on inner contentment, and that it is more important to spend time together lovingly than to waste it on social media.

Mrs. Sarabjit Mangat, singer and official Cultural Representative of Punjab, competently guided through the programme as always. Jury members were Dr Jaspreet Kaur, Dr Ramniq and Prof Surinder Kaur, all experts in Punjab culture.

Various speeches in Punjabi followed, the first being on the purpose of Kirpal Sagar and its institutions with a brief biography of Biji Surinder Kaur.

Karamjit Singh took up the theme of happiness and that peace of mind comes from within and spoke of the importance of the inner connection with light and sound. He recalled the time when Sant Kirpal Singh visited the farm from where Kirpal Sagar started in 1973, and other incidents with Sant Kirpal Singh and Biji.

Karamjit Singh, Aashmeen Shahi

The guest speaker was a former student of the Kirpal Sagar Academy, Dr. Aashmeen Shahi. She movingly told how she had spoken to Biji about her future. She could sing very well and wanted to become a singer. Biji advised her to become a doctor first, and then she could still become a singer. She followed this advice, became an emergency doctor and now actually has started a successful career as a singer. From the way she spoke, one could feel how much respect she has for Biji, the trust she has in what she had told her and her gratefulness towards her.

After the speeches, all were invited to eat in the court of the building, which is equipped as it is traditional in the villages with a clay kitchen area and charpoys etc. Typical Punjabi dishes were served, like saag (mustard greens), corn- and tandoori chapatis, dal (lentils), yoghurt and a dessert, which Biji had also liked to cook for visitors from the West in the early years.

In addition to dance and song, more traditional handicrafts will be displayed in the future. As a first step, a potter was invited to show how to make the popular Divali oil lamps out of clay.

Back on stage, the judges announced the winners. Harshdeep Kaur of Government College Ludhiana was crowned the “Daughter of Punjab 2022”, the second and third runners-up being Ramanpreet Kaur of Banga and Harman Jaswal of Phagwara. The young women all looked very happy and in personal conversation they expressed how much they had enjoyed visiting Kirpal Sagar and that they were very keen to come back.

Activities beside the programmes

As always, it is a great pleasure to join the work at Kirpal Sagar and to be able to advance it a little bit while working together. Usually the day starts in silence with cleaning the circuit around the Sarovar ship early in the morning. After breakfast, you look for a job that suits you or that you have some expertise with. Currently, the renovation of the gold coating on the symbols of unity, which had recently suffered additionally from a hailstorm, has been taken up again.

The washing and rearranging of the textile flowers that decorate many rooms throughout Kirpal Sagar leads to the most diverse corners, and everywhere one meets the Indian staff members who in turn perform their daily duties, from repairing the sarovar border to working in the community kitchen to sending out the monthly brochure.

Celebrations on March 19th

In memory of Biji Surinder Kaur, everyone gathered in the morning of March 19th in the Bible Corner of the Sarovar. The programme lasted for about four hours and again started with recordings of Sant Kirpal Singh, Dr Harbhajan Singh and Biji Surinder Kaur. One topic was that in a true prayer the heart and the head must agree, and Sant Kirpal Singh quoted the statement from the Guru Granth Sahib (Sikh Holy Scripture): “Pita Kirpal aagya…”, “Father Kirpal, the Merciful, has decreed that His children should receive whatever they desire from heart.”

Several speeches by Indian representatives of Unity of Man followed. One of them sang and spoke about how the mother can develop the child. He referred to the Holi festival celebrated the previous day and explained that throwing colour means to be coloured in the colour of God and not in the colour of the mind, in which hate, anger or pride are concealed. We should change hatred into love and be full of humility and take the colour of love and inner knowledge.

Afterwards, some Indians very lovingly sang shabads, some of which they had composed themselves, and also spoke of their time with Biji and what it meant to them. They all held her up as a practical example of gurbhakti (devotion) and gursewa (selfless service) and described her tireless efforts without regard to herself.

On such occasions, one can experience how deeply rooted singing is in the local culture. Often people sing spontaneously where words are insufficient. This was the case when a man expressed in a Shabad that in the memory of Biji our heart is crying – all visibly felt the same.

Another Shabad said that God asked someone, “What do you need?” and he replied, “I need a mother who will be of help to me in this world and the next.” Karamjit, Biji’s son, related to this and told in moving words what it was like when Biji was in the hospital and that she was able to go back to her eternal home happily.

At the end, everyone made a round around the sarovar together as in Biji’s physical time. And just as the memory arose how beautiful it always had been when Pushpa, Biji’s confidanthad sung together with the sangat, a woman began to sing and the other women joined in.

Biji Surinder Kaur in the Sarovar, 2001