SikhRI Leadership Program Trains Young Generation About Sikh Traditions

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1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
SAN ANTONIO, TX—Young people from across world came to participate in the Sikh Research Institute’s (SikhRI) leadership development program Sidak.
Sidak is a distinctive leadership development program for young adults seeking to increase their commitment towards the Sikh faith. A two-week intensive immersion in Sikh culture, language, values and community though understanding bānī (scripture), tvārīkh (history), and rahit (discipline), is held annually in San Antonio, Texas.

“Sidak more than exceeded my expectations,” said Kamaljeet Kaur, one of a group of five who came to Sidak from Scotland. “I’ve had the time to learn what I could never do on my own, even if I spent an hour a day at it. Here there are people who are trained and able to answer your questions. It might be with another question, but they’re able to start that thinking process. I am taking away things that I’ll be able to pass on to my children and my sangat in Glasgow.”

Participants chose one of three tracks of study for their time at Sidak: Sikhi 101, Sikhi 201 or Gurmukhi 101. This year, Surenderpal Singh, research associate for SikhRI, came from Punjab to teach the Gurmukhi track, which focused intensely on the grammar and vocabulary necessary to develop a rich relationship with the authentic language of the Guru Granth Sahib.

Besides the classroom experience, there were daily divans in the morning and evening, which allowed participants to try out new skills, from learning how to do prakash in the morning to singing a sabad and conducting its viakhia. There were also the organized activities in the afternoons which everyone participated in together. Besides the annual trip downtown to the Riverwalk and the Alamo, there was an evening of ultimate Frisbee, a public-speaking competition, and a very popular new addition to the activities schedule: a five-part self-defense course.

Navkiran Kaur, the daughter of human rights activist Jaswant Singh Khalra, came from California to address participants and staff during one of these afternoon sessions as well. She spoke of her father’s life work, the spirit of his mission, the circumstances of his disappearance, and what she and others are doing to see that work through.

Sidak 2011 introduced a new component which allowed parents, or even entire families, to attend. Daljeet Singh and his wife Gurpreet Kaur, physicians from California, came with their two daughters. “[Junior Sidak] allowed both of us to go to class, when, originally, we thought we’d have to be switching off,” said Daljeet Singh. “I want to say to anyone who thinks they shouldn’t come here because they have young kids—let me say that it is doable.”


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