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June 3rd , 2004                                                     20th JEYTH, 536 Nanakshahi

 

UNITED SIKHS INTERNATIONAL GURU NANAK YOUTH AWARD TO BE LAUNCHED TO HONOUR THE LIVES OF THREE SIKH YOUTHS OF BRITISH COLUMBIA

 

BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA – The Sikh Community strongly feels the sudden loss of 3 Sikh youths earlier this month, who led exemplary lives: Bhai Parminder Singh, Bhai Charnjit Singh and Bibi Rena Kaur. In their short time, these young Sikhs shared with the Canadian Sikh community an inspirational way of living. They had only recently set up the Guru Nanak Academy in Surrey, British Columbia, which was aimed at imparting Sikhi to the youths. Their vision for Sikh youth provides us the opportunity to seek new opportunities to spread their enthusiasm for the global Sikh community.

 

In celebration of the contributions and vision of Parminder Singh, Charnjit Singh and Rena Kaur, UNITED SIKHS has launched an annual ‘International Guru Nanak Youth Award’ in their memory. The first Award will be granted on Guru Nanak’s prakash dihara this year. The recipient of this award will be given the important mandate of promoting understanding and cooperation amongst Sikh youths around the world.

 

The recipient of the award will act as a roving Sikh youth ambassador who will travel across the globe to spread the message of Sikhi amongst youths. The Sikh youth ambassador will also help fulfill the aspirations of the Guru Nanak Academy. The Academy will provide input on how this could be achieved. The award valued at $3,000, will include a one-year world-tour ticket and the ambassador will be hosted by Sikh communities and organizations wherever he/she travels.

 

UNITED SIKHS will work with other related Sikh organizations to draw up the ambassador’s itinerary for the year. The purpose of this award is to raise awareness of issues facing young Sikhs, to provide an ambassador of Sikh values and principles with hope to promote understanding and cooperation amongst the global community. It is envisaged that the recipient of this award will engage in internships with Sikh institutions attend forums, conferences, camps and inter-faith functions and be a role model for youths around the world.

 

This award is a step toward recognizing the important contributions and messages left for us by these outstanding young Sikhs. In the spirit of Khalsa and ‘Chardi Kala’ (high spirit), we wish to launch this award in the hopes of living our dreams of the betterment of the global Sikh community through the inspirational memory of these young Sikhs.

 

UNITED SIKHS will invite applications for this Award in August this year. The award will be open to Sikh youths around the world whose exemplary lives make them Sikh youth role models. 

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Bhai Parminder Singh had a unique persona. His friends and family always laughed about his worry-free nature and his humility. Inspired into Gursikhi at the age of 14, Parminder Singh took khande-ke-pahul and did seva everyday at the Gurdwara after school. As he grew up, Bhai Parminder Singh absorbed himself with naam simran and studying of Gurbani. He had an unwavering faith in God and did not worry about social pressures. At Khalsa School, in Surrey, BC, he often did seva as one of the Punj Pyare.

 

Parminder Singh was an outstanding role model with an unbelievable dedication to his commitments and goals. He experienced and taught others and wonders of a universal love for all humanity. He wanted the youth to be able to understand and appreciate the beauty of Guru Granth Sahibji, and this was a key motivation in his projects. Parminder Singh had so much charisma that even highly regarded leaders and preachers in all religious communities were impressed by his dedication to universal love and devotion to God. He spoke at many interfaith conferences and was repeatedly voted the best speaker for his charisma and all-encompassing message.

 

In 2003, Parminder Singh founded the Gurmat Studies Foundation with the Guru's kirpa, which went on to host international Sikh youth camps and retreats where gurbani, keertan, Sikh history, philosophy, Gurmukhi and gatka were taught. As Gurmat Studies Foundation was developing, Parminder Singh wrote a textbook on the life of Guru Nanak Dev Jee, which served as a resource guide to youth in communities all over Canada. The format of the textbook and the language used is very effective in teaching about the history and teachings in Guru Nanak Dev jee's life. Parminder Singh was concerned for the international struggle of ethnic minorities in practicing their faith, and was instrumental in the organization of the campaigning (www.r4d2.ca) of the French Ambassador in Vancouver to stop the ban of articles of faith in France.

 

Bhai Charnjit Singh was raised and taught in various Sikh sangats throughout Punjab. He began learning gatka at the age of 14 from the Gursikhs in his sangat. In his later teens, in the sangat of Baba Darshan Singh jee (Takki wale), he did seva in sri akhand paaths and keertans. Bhai Charnjit Singh’s gatka skills were unmatched, for he won first place in many international gatka competitions. Almost all the akharas in Asia know of Bhai Charnjit Singh. By the divine Will of the Guru, Bhai Charnjit Singh became the "ustaad" of the Baba Deep Singh Gatka Akhara at Dam Dami Taksal in Mehta, in 2002.

 

Charnjit Singh went on a tour to preach the Sikh martial arts internationally, beginning in Malton (Ontario), establishing the akhara there in the summer of 2003. Later that year, Bhai Parminder Singh of the Guru Nanak Academy invited Bhai Charnjit Singh to teach in Surrey, where he established a new akhara. While in Canada, Bhai Sahib loved the students' funny attempts at properly speaking Punjabi and their childish antics, and he made everybody feel as though they were his immediate family. Bhai Sahib had a unique love and appreciation for youth, of all backgrounds. When in the park or at a picnic with the akhara, he would randomly offer a handshake or encouragement to any young person he saw - regardless of their race or religion. He saw the potential in everyone to live up to the teachings of the Guru, although his best parchar was through his actions. He lived within society, made f! riends with all, did seva with humility and all the while remained focused on the Guru's charn. For all of us who were fortunate enough to have crossed paths with Bhai Charnjit Singh, we know that his legacy of seva, and spreading sikhi around the world, will never be forgotten.

 

Rena Kaur loved being in the company of those who shared interests in Sikhism and she had many close friends around the world. Rena Kaur had been a religiously inspired child all of her life, attending sadh sangat programs from the age of five. Kirtan was a main passion of Rena Kaur's life. Despite being born in Canada and becoming accustomed to the Western way of life, Rena Kaur led a simple lifestyle - bearing minimal attachment to materialistic objects. In 2001, Rena Kaur took the gift of initiation as a Khalsa. From there she blossomed - her faith led her to study Sikhi and inspire those around her. She also had a keen interest in the struggles faced by the panth and attempted to take part actively in many different groups and jathas. From her first class in October 2003, Rena Kaur was undoubtedly the most dedicated student in the gatka akhara, learning a tremendous amount in such a short time.

 

She was very blessed within her spirituality and had great respect for her sangat. Rena Kaur recently started wearing a dastaar and regardless of acceptance issues around her, she remained strong and steadfast in her commitment to shine as a Khalsa. In early 2004, Rena Kaur began teaching Punjabi at the Guru Nanak Academy and also took an active role in doing seva at various sangats. She hoped to teach kids in new and innovative ways so that they would learn Gurmukhi effectively. She was always available to offer a helping hand or to give guidance to those around her and inspire them to follow the Guru's teachings.

 

 

For more information on how to apply:

 

email: GuruNanakInternationalYouthAward@unitedsikhs.org  or gniyf@unitedsikhs.org

 

For more information on the Right to Turban campaign, please link to: 

http://www.unitedsikhs.org/us-eu/petitions/RightToTurban.htm

   
   

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