Chardi Kala Jatha
The Chardikala Jatha is a group of young American Sikhs consists of three musicians, Jugat Guru Singh Khalsa, Sada Sat Simran Singh Khalsa, and Hari Mander Jot Singh Khalsa. Students of the late Siri Singh Sahib Harbhajan Singh Khalsa Yogi, they sing classical Gurbani Kirtan in traditional raag as taught to them from the classical music master Ustaad Narinder Singh Sandhu.
The Jatha travels the world playing Gurbani Kirtan at Gurdwaras. The Jatha has had the privilege of singing Gurbani Kirtan in many countries and at many importance places including the Siri Harimandir Sahib for several years, and they have travelled extensively, sharing, teaching, and inspiring Sangats around the world.
The group play Gurbani kirtan in a very positive and powerful way and hence their title "Chardikala" which conveys the spirit of the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh of a “positive, buoyant and optimistic” attitude to life and the future.To be "always be – in "high spirits", "ever progressive", "always cheerful", etc are some other terms used to describe this phrase. It reflects an eternally evergreen and blissful mental state of a Sikh against any background whether appeasing or depressing.
Each is a graduate and now a teacher at Miri Piri Academy in Amritsar, India, and Jugat Guru Singh Khalsa, one of the Jatha members, is the Principal and Director of Spiritual Education. They feel especially blessed to have played on many special occasions at the premier Sikh shrine Golden Temple, Harimandir Sahib in Amritsar.
Important recent tours
Chardi Kala Kirtan Jatha of Amritsar on Tour
This week the Los Angeles Sikh community hosted the Chardi Kala Kirtan Jatha of Amritsar, India. This group of young graduates from Miri Piri Academy in Cherta, near Amritsar, was inspired to study classical kirtan by Siri Singh Sahib Bhai Sahib Harbhajan Singh Khalsa Yogiji (aka Harbhajan Singh Yogiji).
They have achieved a level of skill in classical Gurbani Kirtan that has allowed them the highest honor of playing kirtan at Harimandir Sahib, the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India.
Sada Sat Simran Singh Khalsa, Harimandirjot Singh Khalsa, Jagat Guru Singh Khalsa (absent on this tour due to illness), Hargobind Singh Khalsa and Ajai Singh Khalsa are all Sikhs from America who have for the last nine years studied kirtan under the direction of Ustaad Narinder Singh Sandhu. Narinder Singh Ji, a Professor of Indian Classical Music at Guru Nanak Dev University, is an Ustaad Ji of the Talwandi Gharana lineage of classical music and has taught classical music at Miri Piri Academy for the last eight years. He himself recently visited the United States, performing kirtan at Hacienda de Guru Ram Das, headquarters of Sikh Dharma International, in Espanola, New Mexico.
During Chardi Kala’s visit to Los Angeles, this Kirtan Jatha really lived up to their name which translates as ‘Ever-Rising Spirit.’ Their Los Angeles tour began on Tuesday, July 14th with a Kirtan Program featuring a musical Rehiras (evening prayer) at Guru Ram Das Ashram. Guru Ram Das Ashram in Los Angeles, founded by Harbhajan Singh Yogiji in 1972, was where he taught meditation and the principles of Sikh Dharma for many years and inspired the generation of parents of this Jatha to live the lifestyle of Gursikhs. The first Amrit Sanchar ever conducted with Panj Piare of western Sikhs was conducted in 1972 at Guru Ram Das Ashram, and weekly Akhand Paths (continuous readings of Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji) with readers from the Sadh Sangat have been conducted since the Ashram’s founding. So, it was befitting that their first program was held at Guru Ram Das Ashram.
Wednesday and Thursday evenings, July 15th and 16th, the Jatha was hosted by the Guru Nanak Sikh Temple of Buena Park, CA, where they played for an hour each evening. This was the second year that the Chardi Kala Jatha has played kirtan at the Buena Park Gurdwara. The Sadh Sangat came in large numbers on both evenings. Friday evening, July 17th, they performed at the Sikh Gurdwara of Los Angeles, in North Hollywood. The first shabd they played that evening was by Kabir Ji, “Nahi Chhodo Re Baabaa Raam Naam.” In this shabd Kabir Ji tells the story of Prahlad, the child-saint who confronted his school teacher asking him, “Why do you not teach me lessons of my God, Baba Raam.” What a beautiful melody this shabd was sung to. It was composed by the grandfather of Ustaad Narinder Singh Ji and had such a captivating sound and feeling. Some of the children attending the weekly kirtan instruction under the direction of Saribjit Singh Ji were able to listen to them play this shabd. It was really beautiful.
On Saturday morning, July 18th, the Jatha performed kirtan in the Amrit Vela, the early morning meditation and simran practice at Yoga West (the yoga center under the management of the Guru Ram Das Ashram community in West Los Angeles). Here many members of the Guru Ram Das Ashram community gather daily at 3:45 a.m. for the morning sadhana, discipline, which starts with a reading of Jap Ji Sahib, the Meditation of the Soul, by Guru Nanak Dev Ji, followed by a vigorous Kundalini Yoga series and one hour of Naam Simran. Many yoga students who may not wear the ‘bana’ (dress) of the Sikhs but who do participate in the morning sadhana practice had the chance to experience the ancient sounds of the chanting and simran that was led by the Chardi Kala Jatha. Following the meditation, the Jatha did kirtan at Guru Ram Das Ashram for the weekly Akhand Path Bhog.
Their visit concluded Sunday morning, July 19th, with two Kirtan Programs; first, again at Guru Ram Das Ashram and afterward at the Sikh Study Circle, Vermont Gurdwara of Los Angeles which was the first Gurdwara founded in Los Angeles in 1969. Here, as in all the other Gurdwaras where this Jatha performed Kirtan, they were honored with saropas, robes of honor, for their exemplary service in performing their devotional kirtan in the tradition of the Guru’s Court. They were most graciously received by each Gurdwara and acknowledged for their dedication and service in inspiring others to learn Gurbani. It was really a pleasure to hear them sing and put us all in a state of “Chardi Kala.”
Young American Sikh Kirtan Singers
Young American Sikh Kirtan Singersenthrall the Sikh community in Washington February 19, 2009 by Amrit Kaur
The musical rendition of Gurbani by Sada Sat Simran Singh of Chardi Kala Jatha, a kirtan jatha formed of American Sikhs, permeated the hall of Guru Gobind Singh Foundation in Rockville, MD on Sunday, Feb 15th, 2009. He sang several Sikh hymns in very powerful voice but his rendition of Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s bani literally charged the congregation of over 400 with powerful emotions and it joined in with the jatha in singing the hymns in praise of the glorious Divine. It was a celestial feeling of ecstasy that was experienced in those sublime moments.
The Chardi Kala Jatha emanates love and devotion to the Guru. They have fashioned themselves not only in the Bana of Guru Gobind Singh but have also drenched their souls with Gurbani. You cannot simply watch them perform because you just get immersed in the spirit of the kirtan and are carried away to ethereal realms of the Guru’s imagination. There is certainly an aura of Spirituality that flows spontaneously like a mountain spring.
These young American Sikhs born and brought up in America by American Sikh parents are a tremendous source of inspiration and motivation to Punjabi Sikhs who find it difficult to face the challenges of keeping unshorn hair and wearing turbans. Looking at them I thought that were carved in the image of Guru Gobind Singh and how proud Guru must be to have Sikhs like them. They were born in this so called materialistic world but how untouched they were by its allures. Like beautiful swans they float majestically in the water and pick pearls of heavenly wisdom.
Amrit Kaur, Secretary of GGSF, said, “if I have to describe this moment in one word, I'll say “Electrifying.” She thanked the Jatha for coming to GGSF and invited Sada Sat Simran Singh to talk about his transformation.
In impeccable Punjabi he said, “I was very fortunate to have been born in a Sikh family. Both my parents are Sikhs and I have been blessed by Guru. So there is no transformation as such. Let us not keep the barriers between Gora Sikh and Punjabi Sikh. We all are Guru’s Sikhs.”
Then he addressed the youth and spoke briefly in English and said, “Since I have come to the fold of Guru I have never smoked, used intoxicants or eaten meat. The best way to stay away from trouble is to follow the footsteps of Guru.”
Dr. Rajwant Singh, Executive Director of GGSF, said, “It is heartening to see their devotion and their hard work they have put in to learn kirtan in ragas. They sang first the shabad ‘Dar mande thaadey darbar’ in Raag Gunkali, a second shabad in Raag Des and then ended their performance with the hymn ‘Nanak tina basant hai’ in Raag Basant. Sadasat Simran Singh, the lead singer can sing at ta ar saptak (higher notes) with ease which shows how much effort has been put in to bring this whole experience to perfection. They also performed the ending with traditional style of Darbar Sahib. This assured many that Sikh tradition is very well alive and thriving beyond the borders of Punjab.”
It is remarkable to note that the accent, pronunciation of Punjabi and diction of all the Jatha members is so strikingly pure that it is unimaginable to envision that they are American and not Punjabi Sikhs who are speaking or reciting Gurbani. We sincerely hope and pray that Chardi Kala jatha always remain in high spirits and they continue to motivate and inspire Sikh youth all over the world. In addition to GGSF, this jatha also performed at Guru Nanak Foundation of America in Silver Spring, Maryland and Raaj Khalsa Gurdwara in Herndon, Virginia.
A Moment in Time
The walls of the Richmond Hill Gurdwara, still under re-construction from a devastating fire reverberated with the transcendental sounds of the Guru's bani as the Chardi Kala Jatha led kirtan in classical style. Many of the Indian origin Sikhs were awestruck with the excellence of the kirtan from such an unexpected source as Western Khalsas.
In their dhumalas and cholas the Chardi Kala Jatha captivated both the hearts and minds of the sadh sangat bringing smiles of bliss to their faces. As the Guru's western devotees vibrated in excellent raga and tala some of the Sikhs with small motions of their hands kept time The whole attention of all in the Gurdwara was captivated as Jugat Guru Singh, Sadasat Simran Singh and Harimandir Jot Singh began to awaken the love for the Guru's bani delivered in the traditional way. When Sadasat Simran Singh began to sing the opening notes all heads turned to hear his voice as what they heard they could not believe. The excellence of the Chardi Kala Jatha's presentation of gurbani drove home the truly international nature of Sikh Dharma. When they heard these Khalsas from the West singing in such a devotional and ecstatic manner they were moved to stillness and the usual hustle and bustle of the Gurdwara stopped as all strained to hear them.
Friends of mine who were doubtful that Westerns could achieve such excellence and play in Harimandir Sahib were transformed into believers. When the Jatha left they stopped to meet well wishers and devoted Sikhs serving chai near the entrance to the Gurdwara. There several received their second shock when members of the Jatha began to speak in Punjabi with them. Some of Those Sikhs having weak English were able for the first time to converse with a Western Sikh and it was truly an East meets West moment. The Richmond Hill Sadh Sangat clearly enjoyed to hear Western Sikhs having the same affection and devotion for the Sikh places and exchanged reminisces of places that both had found special. They were inspired later after the Jatha had departed to hear from my children later that the Chardi Kalaa Jatha are teachers of Western youth as well at a Sikh school called Miri Piri Academy outside the holy city of Amritsar. My daughter told one of the Sikhs that anybody could send their children to the school but that the program was designed by the Siri Singh Sahib to create Khalsa consciousness children.
When I was pressed later for more information about the jatha I told nearby Sikhs that they studied kirtan traditional Gurbani Kirtan in Amritsar, Punjab under their 'Ustaad ji' Narinder Singh Sandhu, as well as the Siri Singh Sahib who with the grace of the Guru brought them to Sikh Dharma. I told eager listeners that Chardi Kala Jatha has a several CD's, a web site and kirtans on SikhNet and YouTube. The visit of the Chardi Kala Jatha was an inspiring event for all who participated. It was truly a Guru's moment in time.
ਚੱਤਰ ਚੱਕਰ ਵਰਤੀ ਚੱਤਰ ਚੱਕਰ ਭਗਤੇ ॥
Chatr Chakr Varti Chatr Chakr bhugte||
Salutation to Thee O Pervader and Enjoyer in all the four directions Lord!
ਸਯੰਭਵ ਸਭੰ ਸਰਬਦਾ ਸਰਬ ਜਗਤੇ ॥
Suyanbhav subhb sarbda sarab jugtah||
Salutation to Thee O Self-Existent, Most Beautiful and United with all Lord!
ਦਕਾਲੰ ਪਰਣਾਸੀ ਦਿਆਲੰ ਸਰੂਪੇ ॥
Dukaalng pranasi dialng saroopa||
Salutation to Thee O Destroyer of hard times and Embodiment of Mercy Lord!
ਸਦਾ ਅੰਗਸੰਗੇ ਅਭੰਗੰ ਬਿਭੂਤੇ ॥੧੯੯॥
Sadaa ang-sange abhangag bibhota||199||
Salutation to thee O Ever present with all, Indestructible and Glorious Lord! 199.
|Kirtan:||Raga · Taal · Ragmala · Classical Music · Sangeet · Dhuni · Divan · Asa di Var · Jatha · Simran · Shabad · Tuk · Rababi · Dhadhi|
|Ragas:||Asa · Bairari · Basant · Bhairon · Bihagara · Bilaval · Devagandhari · Dhanasari · Gauri · Gond · Gujari · Jaijavanti · Jaitsri · Kalian · Kanara · Kedara · Maajh · Malaar · Mali Gaura · Maru · Nat Narain · Prabhati · Ramkali · Sarang · Sri · Sorath · Suhi · Tilang · Todi · Tukhari · Vadahans|
|Ragis:||Harjinder Singh · Maninder Singh · Amolak Singh · Darshan Singh · Balwinder Singh · Harbans Singh · Anoop Singh · Niranjan Singh · Amrik Singh · Avtar Singh · Snatam Kaur ·Kamaljit Kaur · Dileep Kaur · Joginder Singh · SS Maskeen|
|Saaj:||Harmonium · Tabla · · Tanpura · Taus · Rabab · Sarangi · Dilruba · · Saranda · Sarode · Sitar · Santoor · Pakhawaj · Dhadh · Dholak · Dool|