ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂਜੀਕਾਖ਼ਾਲਸਾ ॥ ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂਜੀਕੀਫ਼ਤਹਿ ॥
Happy New Year!
We’ve got two reasons to celebrate today: one, a very long term is closer to ending; two, it’s the start of Chet and, therefore, the start of a new year per the Bikrami calendar!
Let’s clarify some confusion, though. If you search “Sikh New Year” on Google, every single result on the first page — genuinely, every single one — will be about Vaisakhi. This misconception is one that, unfortunately, Gurdware have played into too, to the extent that most Sikhs today who are even aware of a new year outside of the one given by the Gregorian Calendar will celebrate it in Vaisakhi, as opposed to Chet.
While Vaisakhi denotes the “birth” of the Khalsa, Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s “Barah Maha” composition in Raag Tukhari sets out the twelve months of the year, beginning with Chet and ending with Phagun. Not that this doesn’t apply to all of Gurbani, but it’s a genuinely rich and beautiful shabad (I screenshot pretty much every Ang yesterday while Gyaani Ji was reading):
ਚੇਤੁ ਬਸੰਤੁ ਭਲਾ ਭਵਰ ਸੁਹਾਵੜੇ ॥
Chet Basant Bhala Bhavar Suhavre
In the month of Chet, the lovely Spring has come, and the bees hum with joy
ਬਨ ਫੂਲੇ ਮੰਝ ਬਾਰਿ ਮੈ ਪਿਰੁ ਘਰਿ ਬਾਹੁੜੈ ॥
Ban Phoole Manjh Bar Mai Pir Ghar Bahurai
The forest is blossoming in front of my door; if only my Beloved would return to my home!
Of course, the English “translations” can’t ever really grasp the true weight behind these lines, but I think we can (just about) get a feel for the sentiment. It’s a universal story: with every new year, we sit down and think of ways that this one will be better than the last. New year, new me. Some vague words about personal growth, chucked inbetween some star emojis. And so, and so forth. I’m guilty — I celebrated the Gregorian New Year, failed at all my resolutions a fortnight in and now I’m using Chet as the excuse to start again.
The point is, the Guru knows all this already. The above excerpt highlights it — we’re in this moment of bliss, and our mind is literally buzzing with excitement for a new chance, but there’ll always be that longing for something more. Something greater. If we’re struggling to keep the promises we make to ourselves every time the calendar turns, it’s because, as the Guru is telling us, we’re looking in the wrong places for satisfaction.
Monika Sidhu, ‘Russian Invasion, Ukrainian Discrimination and Indian Competence’, Baaz (https://www.baaznews.org/p/sikhs-ukraine-russia-indian-embassy?s=r)
Nesrine Malik, ‘Let the horror in Ukraine open our eyes to the suffering of war around the world’, The Guardian (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/mar/01/let-the-horror-in-ukraine-open-our-eyes-to-the-suffering-of-war-around-the-world)
Videos & Podcasts
An Insignificant Man (2017)
A documentary on the rise of the AAP (Aam Aadmi Party), which recently won the Panjab Legislative Assembly election, thus electing Bhagwant Mann as the Chief Minister of Panjab. Regardless of their politics, their relatively recent rise in popularity is a testament to the growing disillusionment with corrupt statist politics in India.
‘Getting Involved in Gurdwaras | Committees, Corruption & Opportunities, BoS TV, ep. 9
An inside-look into how mythical Gurdwara committees that we associate with corruption and politicking in smoke-filled (hopefully, not literally) rooms actually work.
Kirtan & Dharmik Geet
Bhai Manbir Singh, ‘Ghar Da Sahib’ in Raag Asavari
A personal favourite Raag. If you’d like to learn more about Raag Kirtan, and Raga more generally, watch this space! In the meantime, we highly encourage you to engage with Cambridge South Asian Arts Soc.
Jagowala Jatha, ‘Saint Soldier’ (2002)
A Dhadi Jatha floating over Dr. Dre beats. Genuinely top 5 ways to celebrate the start the new year.