Six-decade-old Sikh camp now online


The band played on: Over 150,000 viewers watched the opening ceremony performance by the Sri Dasmesh Pipe Band during the opening ceremony.

FOR close to six decades, Sikh youths nationwide looked forward to the annual Gurmat Samelan, a camp for those aged 35 and below.

With Covid-19 cases on an upward trend, Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia, a non-governmental organisation behind the event, had to decide whether to scrap the massive event or to move it online.

It was agreed that the show must go on. And went on successfully it did.

Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia president Harjinder Singh said the event needed to go on despite the pandemic as the organisation had an obligation to serve the youths who were looking forward to the Samelan.

“It was also a good start for us to kick off our virtual programmes moving forward in this new norm, ” he said.

With help from SikhInside, a non-governmental organisation that specialises in live-streaming Sikh related events around the globe, Gurdwara Sahib Sentul was set up to be the main broadcast centre for the five-day event comprising prayers, classroom sessions, online games and meetings.

The group had less than two months to prepare and raise funds for the event which was held last December during the school holidays. Challenges included figuring out the schedule, addressing Zoom fatigue and keeping abreast of the latest Covid-19 standard operating procedures for meetings and events.

Some 500 participants and 150 volunteers participated in the learning and teaching Zoom sessions. New activities like a virtual run and model Parliament competition were added this year. Speakers included Canadian MP Gurattan Singh and Bukit Jelutong MP Ramkarpal Singh.

Other activities included leadership training, sing-a-longs led by a professional artist who was in another country, and arts and crafts sessions which also saw the parents joining in.

“We had to really think through the event this year but we were able to have many different activities because everything was virtual.

“The youths really enjoyed the many opportunities for interaction during the activities as it meant that the sessions were not boring like when they are at school or at work.

“Hopefully more of such events can be held as we continue to innovate online learning and teaching to make it more fun, accessible and concise, ” said Harjinder in a press release.

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