Malaysia's Gurdwara Sahib Seremban preps up for Vaisakhi festivities


Making sweet treats symbolises the spirit of togetherness and expresses gratitude during Vaisakhi festivities. Photos: The Star/Chan Tak Kong

The kitchen of the Gurdwara Sahib Seremban (GSS) at Jalan Yam Tuan in Seremban was a flurry of activity as devotees from the Sikh community busy themselves in preparation for Vaisakhi celebrations in two days.

Retired civil engineer Kalvindar Kaur, 64, and a group of women are busy making chapatis, while at the verandah, a team of men slice onions, cucumbers, and carrots.

Another dedicated group of volunteers is busy making delectable sweet treats such as jalebi (a sweet treat made from wheat flour and yoghurt, soaked in sugar syrup), gulab jamun (milk balls soaked in sugar syrup), barfi (made from condensed milk solids), and ladoo (sweet balls made from gram flour).

Containers filled with methia (crispy fried flour crispies) are also being prepared to be served during the Vaisakhi festivities.

Kalvindar (centre, in red) and members of her community methia, a savoury snack, for Vaisakhi. Kalvindar (centre, in red) and members of her community methia, a savoury snack, for Vaisakhi.

“We have been extremely busy with preparations for Vaisakhi. In the past one week, volunteers have been coming to the GSS to spring clean the temple and to ensure it will be ready for our religious festival,” says Kalvindar, as her hands skillfully shaping the dough into perfect rounds for chapatis to feed the volunteers.

The gurdwara is a place of worship and community gathering for Sikhs, where they come together to worship, learn, and engage in communal activities.

Volunteering for Vaisakhi is a labour of love and a way the community show their dedication and devotion. From cleaning and decorating the gurdwara to organising langar (community meals) for all, every task is infused with a sense of purpose and a show of unity, explains Kalvindar.

“Some volunteers come together to cook traditional dishes, while others work tirelessly to ensure that every aspect of the festivities is well planned. This is part of our seva (selfless service), which is one of the teachings of our religion,” says the pensioner, who worked with Seremban’s Valuation and Property Management Department for over four decades.

Community members come together to lend a helping hand to spruce up the gurdwara for Vaisakhi celebrations. Community members come together to lend a helping hand to spruce up the gurdwara for Vaisakhi celebrations.

Spiritual devotion

This year, Sikhs worldwide will celebrate the festival of Vaisakhi on Sunday. Vaisakhi marks the establishment of the Khalsa order by Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the 10th Sikh Guru in 1699 and corresponds with the harvest festival in india.

“In 1699, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the 10th Guru, orchestrated an Amrit Sanchar (baptism) ceremony for five devotees, and himself, at Anandpur Sahib in Punjab, India.

“Following their baptism, men were bestowed with the title of Singhs (symbolising bravery as lions), while women were honoured with the title of Kaur (signifying royalty as princesses)," explained GSS Head Granthi (Priest) Giani Balkaran Singh, who is from Punjab, India.

'Akhand Path is a continuous reading of the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy scripture, completed within 48 hours,' says Giani. 'Akhand Path is a continuous reading of the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy scripture, completed within 48 hours,' says Giani.

Today is the start of Akhand Path, the continuous reading of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy scripture, which should be completed within 48 hours without interruption. This spiritual practice is performed on special occasions or during times of need.

The holy scripture is a collection of poetry, hymns, and spiritual teachings.

“The Akhand Path is reading of the entire 1,430 pages of our holy scripture. I lead the recitation with the assistance of four volunteers, comprising men and women. All are welcome to recite the holy scripture,” said Giani, who has been serving the temple for two years.

Vaisakhi celebrations in the state are always filled with pomp and grandeur.

“In Punjab, Vaisakhi is celebrated as a religious festival, with thousands of devotees gathering at gurdwaras. One of the main highlights is the Nagar Kirtan religious parade, where devotees march through streets, singing hymns.

“In Malaysia, celebrations take place at gurdwaras. Here, the Akhand Path is held followed by Kirtan Darbars, a devotional gathering where the singing of hymns, takes place.”

Seva, integral to Sikhism, embodies selfless service performed with compassion and humility. Seva, integral to Sikhism, embodies selfless service performed with compassion and humility.

Selfless service

Kalvindar is expecting over 300 people to come to the GSS for the Vaisakhi celebrations on Sunday. It’s a large crowd and she is anticipating a busy day preparing the vegetarian dishes to cater to the gathering. But Kalvindar doesn’t seem worried as she knows there will be many volunteers to help in the kitchen.

“On Vaisakhi, we will gather as early as 4.30am to prepare a variety of traditional dishes like chapati, dhal, kheer (a milk pudding) as well as (contemporary) dishes like fried noodles, pasta and also French toast and bubur chacha," she says.

“There will be many volunteers ready to assist on this special day. Each will be assigned a specific task, from cooking duties, dishwashing and meal preparation. Seva, or volunteer work, is a fundamental tenet in Sikhism. Community members are encouraged to contribute and support one another, especially on special occasions like the Vaisakhi celebrations."

Everyone does their part to feed the community for Vaisakhi.Everyone does their part to feed the community for Vaisakhi.For Kalvindar, Vaisakhi is not merely a festival but a reaffirmation of her identity, values, and heritage.

“To me, Vaisakhi represents the birth of my faith. Vaisakhi is the birth of the khalsa, which translates to '(being) pure' or 'belonging to the divine' in Punjabi. It represents Sikh values such as courage, righteousness, and commitment to justice,” says Kalvindar, who has been the principal of GSS' education wing – the Punjabi Education Center – for over two decades.

For 25 years, the grandmother of three has been mentoring Form Five students in preparations for their Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia Punjabi language examination.

Her two daughters, who now live in Penang and Kajang, will be joining her in the celebrations at the GSS and she eagerly awaiting their arrival home.

“It is always nice to have family and loved ones close during Vaisakhi, It is a time to reflect on the teachings of our Gurus that emphasise equality, compassion, and service.”


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