At exactly 9:11 AM, Malaysian Airlines Flight MH 146 began its take off roll from Runway 34 of Melbourne airport. The roar of the engines even drowned out my thoughts. Up to that point, I had been far far away, somewhere in Campaspe Downs, the beautiful campsite spread out over the Victorian countryside where the Sikh Sewaks Australia Annual Gurmat Family Camp 2013 had just been held.
I can’t imagine a nicer site, with its two beautiful lakes separated by a low gentle ridge that hid each lake from the other. The cabins were tastefully spread out to offer privacy and space. The function rooms were ideally located to become the lecture rooms, Darbar Sahib and Langgar hall. All in all, the charm was enough to keep me there forever. How I wish!
My appearance at the Family camp was quite unexpected. Just three days prior, I had received an SMS asking if I would come. Recalling my wonderful experiences from other camps, I thought, “Why not?”
Typical of all Sikh camps, I was greeted with the warmth that can only be attributed to the unconditional goodwill that Sikhs have for one another, wherever in the world they may be. I was shown to my lovely rustic cabin where I caught some shut-eye after the long tiring flight.
At about 4rish in the afternoon, I emerged from my cabin and made my way to where the action seemed to be. Stepping out on to the road, I saw this beautiful sight, so many red Indian styled canoes in various colours gliding effortlessly across the lake, being rowed by Sikh youngsters and some elders who dared brave a dunking. How appropriate this sight I thought, recalling the camp theme posted everywhere – Matt ko bharam bhoolay sansaar, Gur binn koay naa utaras paar, meaning, ‘Rise from your delusion O good people, no one ever crossed the stormy Ocean of Life without the Guru, the Cosmic Ship!
Rehraas began at 6.10 PM, followed by an Inspirational Session by Bhai Swaran Singh and his jatha. I liked the upbeat tune he had conjured for the theme shabad, even using a keyboard with electronic accompaniment. No waja. No tabla. Wow!
I also noticed that many members of the sangat, whilst sitting on the floor, were actually sitting on cushions. There was a huge stack at the back for anyone who wanted one. They were from the chairs normally present in that function hall before it was converted into a Darbar Sahib. Quite surprised that everyone was so comfortable using cushions, I naturally asked the organisers how they had achieved that acceptance. “Simple”, they said. “We all know how important it is to be comfortable. Sangat is spending at least five hours in the Darbar daily. The more comfortable they are, the more enjoyable their experience”.