Stuck with ideas of how to connect your children with their amazing heritage? Well look no further! Try out these brilliant ideas which have been tried and tested positive by many Sikh parents!
From the moment you are expecting your child, there is reason to celebrate and turn this into a golden opportunity to attract them to the Sikh faith.You can do this by reading or singing baby Gurbani whilst in the womb, holding a Sehaj or Akhand Paath on its arrival and celebrating its birthdays with Guru Granth Sahib Ji and the holy sangat. This is a brilliant way of saying ‘thank you’ to the Guru for this great gift of parenting and will ensure the child remembers its roots throughout its life.
Aside from this, a child living in the West can very quickly get caught up in the myriad of conflicting cultures. To support your child’s connection with their glorious heritage, why not celebrate the special days in the Sikh calendar. The Gurus birthdays, great Gursikhs shaheedi days, Vaisakhi and Bandi Shorr/Diwali are amongst these. One very successful time of year we implemented in our family home was during the childrens’ Christmas holidays. This time of year is known as the month of Poh where the tenth Guru and his family and larger sangat made the most sacrifices. The Gurus sons aged 16, 11, 9 and 7 years old all attained martyrdom at this age. Children especially resonate with their stories due to the age relation. So, instead of a Christmas tree, why not put up a Nishan Sahib, decorating it with lights and photos of the Sahibzade, along with their usual presents.
There is an increasing range of toys, puzzles and activity books on the market dedicated to Sikh children. Make the most of these resources! The more you expose your children to these wonderful images and messages, the more they begin to embed these in their unconscious.
Doing this together and having fun at the same time will promote feel good hormones which create lasting happy memories.
Remember you can play role play or dress up. My children loved playing “Singhs and Singhnia” (fighting against evil) or enacting the Prakash/Sukhasan sewa of Guru Granth Sahib ji by pretending to read a hukumnama, do kirtan or give out degh!
3 Use modern technology
As your children get older, the pressures of modern society tend to pull them towards the latest gadgets and accessories. Kids as young as 5 years old have constant access to Ipads, Iphones or the latest modern technology.
Instead of them being exposed to messages which could harm them or their self esteem, why not use it to download the great Sikh animations, Sikhi games or apps? Nowadays, children can learn Gurmukhi, kirtan or Sikh history through this medium. Older children can learn powerful Gurmat messages through short videos that are available for free on Youtube.
As a family you could get together once a month with the children and have a Sikhi movie night to reflect on the great Sikh history.
4 Learn together
A Sikh means to learn and what better way then to do it together! You can use illustrated Sikh books or more detailed ones depending on the child’s age. There are also plenty of talks on Soundcloud or Youtube channels which talk about different topics in the Sikh faith. Listening or reading together and then discussing what you learnt is a fantastic way of connecting.
To expand on this, make your child’s circle bigger by enrolling them on a Santhea, Kirtan or Gatka class to name but a few. In this way your child gets to learn more, builds his/her support network and sees other children with the same Sikh identity. Research shows that the older a child gets, the more peer influence increases over a parent’s ability to influence. Start them young and they will become so proficient that opportunities to perform in front of crowds will do more to boost their self esteem and link to their heritage.
5 Do Sewa together
Perhaps the most powerful thing you can do for your child is take time to introduce them to sewa. The concept of sewa, or selfless service has done such incredible wonders for those who have made it a part of their life that the impossible has become possible; diseases have been taken away, obstacles have been removed, exams have been passed and the highest spiritual status (union with Vaheguru) has been achieved.
Starting with something simple such a regular jorrea sewa (cleaning of sangat’s shoes), or filling water in cups in the langar hall can instil both humility and joy. As the child grows the sewa can be anything from vacuuming the floors, planting trees or feeding the homeless. I believe if a parent just focussed on this one quality alone, a child would not only feel attracted to their glorious history but go on to attract thousands more!