In response to the serious issue of the rumours that are going around regarding the SikhStudent Camp held annually in Chigwell, Essex. On the 1 July 06 a meeting was held in Gravesend Gurdwara, Khalsa Avenue attended by concerned members of the Sikh sangat from around the UK and the Camp organisers. Below is a summary by one of the attendees (taken from www.MrSikhNet.com)
On Saturday 1st July, I attended a public meeting held at Gravesend Gurdwara, Khalsa Avenue, organised by our local elders of Gravesend with elders from Slough, Southall, East London and Midlands attending the meeting. This included ex-campers and ex-sewadars of the Camp sharing what they witnessed at the camp, which I am sure if anyone heard would be horrified by. These organisers acknowledged and accepted these statements. The meeting was filmed on video by someone from the Sikh Student Camp and was also recorded on MP3 by the Sangat. Previous to this meeting I had heard various rumours and Internet bashing, however this was the first time both sides sat down and the Sangat were made to know the true reality of the situation.
I don’t want to write an essay about all the things discussed in the meeting however I would like to share that some “very serious” issues were raised. The main issues, which I heard at the meeting, were:
a) Promotion of Sanatan Dharma, a fundamentalist Hindu interpretation of Sikhism, e.g. we were told that by campers that they were told that the kachera comes from Hanuman (monkey god), men dressed as nihung singhs cut themselves and put blood on the khanda of the nishaan sahib for 2 or 3 years running, and campers have been told that the “true guru” is not solely guru granth sahib but “three Granths”, i.e. dasam granth, sarbloh granth and guru granth sahib make up the “Guru”.
b) Lack of observance of Sikh code of conduct in darbar and generally the camp - the camp organisers admitted that a Big Brother style video was shown in the darbar which included campers singing Bhangra songs about women and liquor, also we were made aware that amritdharis which had publicly renounced Sikhism by cutting their hair were asked to do kirtan, clapping was encouraged in the Darbar. The camp organisers admitted that they had no control to control the situation.
c) Campers, but worryingly sevadars in the camp not observing correct behaviour with campers in particular females. It was admitted there were issues with “over friendliness” and a female ex-camper shared that sexually disgusting things were said to her for two years running and to her friends by sevadars running “discussions”.
The conclusion of the meeting was that the Elders said if the Camp organisers, 50 in number, cannot control a group of 10 people who attended the camp and afterwards admitted to the Camp organisers that they wished to sabotage the camp, then how could they control a possible 20, 30 or 40 wrong campers?
A lady who was in charge of last year’s security of the camp nicely summarised that “Security is the most important thing in a Camp. For any good camp you need excellent security. If we don’t have the man-power or capability to control campers then we shouldn’t do a camp.” An Elder said that the Sangat could send 30 or 40 men to help the security and “save the camp” however at the same time that would cause tension and aggression with those who attend the camp with the intention of causing trouble and fighting at the camp is not a solution but would be a further problem.
Deep and serious issue, so let’s not jump the gun. It’s good that we are all concerned and wish to help out. So let’s do that. I was happy that Internet Rumours and “Hear-say” were cleared at the meeting and the Sangat were made aware of the “THE” truth so that they could move forward to actually help the Organisers to address issues of immoral conduct, promotion of Hinduism in Sikh appearance to campers, loose behaviour and how basic Gurdwara etiquette has been observed.
So let’s pray and let’s try to do something positive. May God help us in keeping Sikhism’s purity and sincerity.