Each year we start the year off with a commencement trip to Anandpur Sahib, the birthplace of the Khalsa. It takes approximately four hours to get there by bus, with a much loved stop at Haveli in Jalandhar along the way.
In Anandpur Sahib we stay at the home of the Siri Singh Sahib, Yogi Bhajan. It’s a large property with a guesthouse that the girls stay in and two towers for the boys. It’s a beautiful property and a great place to start the year.
Our time in Anandpur Sahib is intended to get the students acclimatized, bonded and ready for the year together. To that end, there is a lot physical activity and introductions to the activities that will make up a lot of the extra-curricular time, including running, PT (physical training), wrestling, gatka, marching and games. Every meal is langar, vegetarian food served in lines at the gurdwara. During our time in Anandpur Sahib we also visit many of the gurdwaras in the area. This trip we visited Sri Keshgarh Sahib, Guru Ka Lahore, Guru Kila Sri Anandpur Sahib, Taragarh Sahib, and Bibhour Sahib.
The time in Anandpur is challenging for everyone. Just dealing with the heat and getting on India time is enough. Add to that getting up at 5:15am, strange food (if you’re not used to it), and more physical activity than you’ve done either all summer or your whole life! Invariably, after three full days of sweating together, the group leaves Anandpur Sahib as a cohesive unit, ready for the year together.
Run to Gurdwara Kila Sri Anandpur Sahib
The day after we arrived in Anandpur Sahib began with a 2.5 mile run to Gurdwara Kila Sri Anandpur Sahib, just down the road from Keshgarh Sahib. The group ran together until Keshgarh Sahib and were set loose to run at their own pace after that. Upon arriving at the destination, everyone had a few minutes to rest and drink water before the dreaded stairs! This year’s mission was straight forward, there were three bursts up the stairs that kept increasing in length.
Gatka Games at Guru ka Lahore
After a brief introduction to gatka on the second day, the games started in the morning of the third day at Guru Ka Lahore. Guru Ka Lahore is an area that was made to look like Lahore (now in Pakistan) and is where Guru Gobind Singh was married. Gatka is a Sikh martial art that uses wooden sticks that emulate swords. The game is basically capture the flag with gatka. If you get hit three times, then you’re either out or have to go back to neutral territory before you can fight again.
Seva at Keshgarh Sahib
Most of our meals were eaten at Keshgarh Sahib. It’s the biggest gurdwara in Anandpur Sahib and is the site where Guru Gobind Singh formed the Khalsa. When we eat langar, we’re served by sevadars who devote their time to cooking or serving. For one lunch, we joined in and helped serve all those who were in attendance.
Each afternoon was spent doing physical activities, starting with PT (physical training) and wrestling on the first day, gatka on the second, and marching and games on the third. The best way to bond is to sweat together!
In the middle of the day when it was too hot to exercise, we visited various gurdwaras including Gurdwara Qila Taragarh Sahib, the site of a lookout during Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s time and Gurdwara Bibhour Sahib, where he composed Benti Chaupai on the banks of the River Sutlej.