We are honoured to have Gurujodha Singh Khalsa as one of our ministers. Gurujodha Singh has known Siri Chand since he was born, and is like an Uncle to him. He is a lawyer in California and a graduate of University of Pennsylvania Law School. He is also an accomplished martial artist, holding a fifth degree black belt, and is a Kenpo Karate Instructor. Gurujodha Singh is one of the leaders within Sikh Dharma International and Khalsa Council. He is also an experienced instructor of Kundalini Yoga.
We love playing music together as a family, with Awtar Singh (our Dad) in the lead, Siri Chand and Gurujodha on Percussion, and Tej Kaur doing back-up vocals.
We feel blessed to have Dev Suroop Kaur also serving as our Minister. Dev Suroop is an accomplished musician, recording artist, and teacher of Naad Yoga. She lives in New Mexico and is a chief executive of Akal Security, one of the largest contract security companies in the United States.
Dev Suroop is part of the story of how Siri Chand and I met. Three years ago, at summer solstice, I bumped into Siri Chand and Dev Suroop while filling up on some tea. It was then that I first really connected with Siri Chand. He wanted a cup of tea, and without thinking, I immediately gave him mine and got myself a steel bowl to drink from. I then just relaxed and enjoyed hanging out with Dev Suroop and Siri Chand. Dev Suroop was teasing Siri Chand because he was beautifully dressed up, in matching turban, shawl, mala (rosary), kurta pujama (Indian shirt and trousers) and a vest. I remember looking at him and thinking, "This man is a King!" Apparently Siri Chand, amazed at how I had selflessly served him my tea, was looking at me and thinking, "I could marry this woman!"
Sergeant Baltej Singh Dhillon will be serving as our granthi. We are honoured to consider Baltej Singh a big brother, and all of his family are our dear friends. They all play the most beautiful kirtan together.
Sergeant Baltej Singh helped transform the cultural, political, and legal landscape of Canada when he won the right to wear his turban as part of his official uniform in Canada's Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the federal police service. He has a deep and humble love of the Sikh way of life, and in advocating for his right to wear his turban, his case galvanized the Canadian media, won hearts and enraged others, and sparked a debate that made its way into the chambers of Parliament. He continues to lead a life of constant service. His actions and words are deeply inspiring, and we are blessed to have him reading our marriage vows, the poetry of Guru Ram Das (the fourth Sikh Guru) to us. His entire family will also be playing a shabad (sacred song) at the wedding. Can't wait!
Pritpal Singh Khalsa, one of our favourite kirtanis, will be opening our wedding ceremony with his beautiful kirtan. Priptal Singh has travelled across continents playing his Gurbani Kirtan. His music is the most perfect blend of the East and West. His creativity extends to other genres of music, and beyond into the realm of Kundalini Yoga, where he is an accomplished Senior Teacher-Trainer. You can read more about his important work at http://www.pritpalsingh.com/
Siri Chand has had the good fortune of playing tablas alongside Pritpal Singh and Harpal Singh for many years as a jetha. Just take a look at this picture of them -taken when touring some of the Gurdwaras of the American Southwest. They are a graceful and powerful embodiment of the Aquarian Age!
Sat Kartar has one of the most beautiful, powerful voices you will ever hear. When she sings the sounds comes deep from the earth, and soars to the heavens!
We are blessed to have our Aunti Sat Kartar joining us to play her perfect rendition of the "Pledge of Allegiance of the Khalsa".
Tej Kaur met Siri Chand after taking Amrit, which commits a person to a life as a "Khalsa" or living and dwelling in the truth and purity of their soul. When she emerged from the Amrit ceremony, Sat Kartar Kaur was singing the "Pledge of Allegiance of the Khalsa". It was deeply inspiring, and in that moment Tej prayed that in order to truly fulfill her commitment as a Khalsa householder, that Guru Gobind Singh bring her a Khalsa husband.
It was in the minutes after that prayer, and after the Pledge of Allegiance, that Tej Kaur met her future husband, Siri Chand Singh Khalsa!
Here are the words:
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE of the Khalsa
I pledge allegiance to the Sovereign Khalsa Spiritual Nation,
Which shall live to obey the will of God,
Serve humanity with love and peace,
and spread the radiance of the Holy Nam
As given by Guru Nanak through
Guru Gobind Singh and embodied in the Siri Guru Granth Sahib,
So that the children of the Khalsa and all of their generations to follow may ever live in the spiritual sovereignty of Khalsa.
We are honored to have the Chardi Kalaa Jatha, a group of young American Sikh members of 3ho (the healthy, happy and holy organization), playing our wedding rounds!
These men grew up with Siri Chand, and have been training in traditional Gurbani Kirtan in Amritsar, Punjab under their ‘Ustaad ji’ Narinder Singh Sandhu. Although our beloved Golden Temple has yet to formally allow women back in to play kirtan, Tej Kaur is always happy to listen to her brothers singing Gurbani Kirtan in the Siri Harimandir Sahib ( the Golden Temple ). Chardi Kalaa, which means the Spirit of Ecstasy Ever-Rising, live and sing true to their name.
Our dear brother Lakhmi Chand, (Siri Chand's twin) will be reading our marriage vows to us. First our Granthi, Baltej Singh will read them out in the original Gurmukhi, and then Lakhmi Chand Singh will read a beautiful English translation of them, (the translation is by an emerging Sikh scholar, Ek Ong Kaar Kaur Khalsa. Click on the page "Anand Karaj: A Sacred Sikh Ceremony" for the translation Lakhmi Chand will be reading).
As twins, Siri Chand and Lakhmi Chand have been together since the very beginning. Siri Chand and Lakhmi Chand both studied at Miri Piri Academy in Amritsar, India.
Our brother has been helping us out a great deal with the wedding planning. We love him very much and are very thankful for him, and Tej feels especially grateful for him welcoming her into our family. When Tej was first getting to know Siri Chand, she asked Lakhmi Chand, "Do you want to ask me any questions about myself? I know you and Siri Chand are very close." Lakhmi Chand just smiled and said, "I've lived with my brother all my life. I trust his judgement completely. If he accepts you, then I accept you." :)
Our younger brother, who grew up with Siri Chand in Albuquerque, and onwards at Miri Piri Academy in Amritsar, will be leading the family and entire sangat in the Ardaas, an open prayer to the infinite.
"Prayer is prayer of the heart. We were given a form for our prayer..Ardaas...The person speaking is the voice of everyone. Our Ardaas is not a shopping list. It's the longing of the heart and the soul...First we honour the primal power [Pritam Bhagwati], then we honour all of the Gurus [teachers of the Sikh faith], then we honour all those who have made sacrifice so that we could be here today, so that we could walk this path...Just remembering that makes us realize what an honour it is to live as a Sikh of the Guru. To walk in the steps of those who gave their lives before they would give their hair. It reminds us of our values, our love, our core, our dedication, the strength, the courage, of all those who have walked on this path.
Through remembering that the Guru prepares us to open our hearts, to feel grateful. In that state of gratitude, the prayer comes forth spontaneously, from the hearts of all the people that have gathered...
At the end of the Ardaas, the Guru gives us a seal, to seal the prayer. "Nanak Naam Chardi Kala, Tereh Bhane Sarbatt Da Bhala!"
...We not only take our devotion, but we transform it into projection. The projection is that through the power of Bani [sacred sound current], the entire world should be blessed and enlightened...It's not about me and my relationship to God. It's about raising the entire planet to live in that consciousness of Chardi Kala [the spirit of ecstacy ever rising]..." -Guruka Singh from "The Science of Ardaas"
Davinder Kaur is our younger sister (Tej is the eldest, just like Siri Chand). We are delighted to have her serving in the Anand Karaj, reading the Guru's hukam to us in English. During the wedding ceremony, there will be two hukams read, one at the beginning of the ceremony, and one at the completion. A hukam is an order or direction from the Guru. In response to our prayer to marry, the Granthi will be guided by his intuition to open the Guru Granth Sahib (our sacred scriptures, embodying the living, sacred sound current), and whatever passage is revealed, will be the order that is given to the couple. The granthi will first read the hukam out in Gurmukhi, and then our sister will explain the hukam to us in English. The Granthi and Davinder will be basically sharing the Guru's advice, affirmations, and orders to us for our marriage.
We love our sister, and are deeply grateful that she will be able to take out time from her training (in internal medicine at one of America's leading medical clinics) to join in celebrating with us.
Our father, Awtar Singh Khalsa is a gifted musician and composer. We are really excited to have our Papaji sing at our wedding. His voice is all powerful, and his music fills your heart and mind with joy. If you're ever down and need to put a smile back on your face, try listening to Awtar Singh's music. You'll find yourself wanting to jump up and down with joy (at least Tej, the bride, always feels that way)!
Snatam Kaur is a world-renown recording artist, composer, and singer. To know her is to love her, because she is one of the most graceful and humble people you will ever meet! We are honoured and excited to have her lend her sacred presence to completing the Kirtan Darbar with the final Ardaas. You can listen to her heavenly music at www.snatamkaur.com.