Archive for the ‘Retreats and Conferences’ Category

WCSYA Winter Retreat 2009

The West Coast Sikh Youth Alliance will host a winter retreat in Harrison Hot Springs, British Columbia from January 16-18, 2009.

I’ve attended the West Coast Retreat for the last two years and can honestly say it’s one of the best Sikh Retreats in North America. :) You should try to make it this year. The jury’s still out on whether I’ll be there, but that didn’t stop me from making this quick, fun video… Check it out on YouTube. Be sure to click “watch in high quality” for the best experience.

Here are some of the features of the Winter Retreat:

- Skiing, Snowboarding, Snow Tubing
- Swimming in Hot Springs
- Sikh lifestyle: full nitnem morning, evening, and night
- Excellent Workshops
- Excellent Sangat :)

West Coast Camp - Aug 23-29, 2008

The West Coast Sikh Youth Alliance is putting on its 14th camp this year. It’s for kids age 10-25, and will be in Vancouver Island, BC. I attended West Coast camp as a counselor in 2005 and have been raving about it ever since — this is an amazing camp that is not to be missed. Canadians work hard and play hard, and this camp is a great example of that! Check out the photos (they are awesome!) in this pamphlet, which is posted on their website,

Maryland Camp - August 2 - 9, 2008

Snipped from email:

Guru Harkrishan Institute of Sikh Studies (GHISS) is pleased to announce the 13th Annual Sikh Youth Gurmat Camp in Maryland from August 2 - August 9, 2008. The registration deadline is July 14, 2008 and only the first 100 registrants with completed applications will be accepted. From our experience of prior years, we anticipate the capacity of 100 to be filled sooner than the deadline. Early registration is thus encouraged.

The camp is for youth of ages 7-19 years. It is an endeavor to expose the Sikh youth of the western world to the principles and values of Sikhism. It is an attempt to create a Sikh environment and provide a glimpse of the Sikh way of life. The camp is lead by motivated Gursikhs. To help our youth identify their roots, Sikh History has been kept an important focus of the cam p. The camp is comprised of Kirtan and Tabla classes, Gatka training, daily Kirtan Diwans, organized seminars, discussions, sports, and various competitions and other activities.

SikhRI: Sidak 2 week summer program

Now in it’s sixth year, Sidak is back from July 13 - 26, 2008. Organized by the Sikh Research Institute, the program creates leaders grounded firmly in the teachings of the Sikh Gurus and Guru Panth. The courses offered make it seem like the beginnings of America’s first Sikh-focused institution of higher learning: Sikhi 101 & 201, and Gurbani 101. I would certainly like to go, if not this year, then perhaps next.

Check out this great, professionally made informational video. ;)

I have also included all the associated documents after the jump.


seattle sikh retreatHey folks, the Seattle Sikh Retreat is back for 2008. It’s Memorial Day Weekend this year. It seems like it’s far away, but it’ll be here before you know it. Register by May 15 to get the early bird rates! Why should you bother attending? It’s a forum where you can get together with like-minded people and discuss your connection with Sikhi. You can learn from the speakers, engage in dialogue, and meet exciting people from around North America. We’ll have awesome sports activities (rumors are circulating of a Sikh Olympics), a beautiful campfire, and lots of nitnem, simran, and laughter. Best of all, we’ll create an open forum where we can meet each other on common ground.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the ritual of religion. As children we are taught what it is to “be good” and jump through certain socially acceptable hoops. Many of us have grown up in the United States, and we’ve learned kirtan and attended divaans at the instruction of our parents. We tell everyone that the Guru Granth Sahib is our Guru, and that its teachings will get us closer to God. Amidst all of this routine, we often leave out an important aspect of our Guru — the Guru Panth. Many people will be surprised to learn that the current Sikh guru is actually the Guru Panth and the Guru Granth. What does this mean? Who is the Guru Panth? How can we relate to it? Are we the Guru Panth? All these questions and more will be answered at the retreat. Retreats and conferences like the Seattle Sikh Retreat are a welcome reprieve from the day-to-day, and are often eye-opening and life changing experiences. Make sure you read all the positive comments on the seattle sikh retreat website!

Check out this neat video:

Disclaimer: I’m one of the organizers of the Seattle Sikh Retreat, and have been since 2005. :)

Mark of Excellence Seminar, New York

December 15, 2007
9:00 amto4:00 pm

The Sikh Research Institute has teamed up with the Sikh Coalition for a Mark of Excellence retreat. It’s a day long event this Saturday.

MARK OF EXCELLENCE: Becoming Guru Centered

Mark of Excellence is a series of lectures, presentations and workshops specifically catered to meet the needs and desires of a particular audience.

Essentially, participants attend personal and community development sessions that seek to foster the Sikh values based on Gurmat traditions: Sikh scripture, history, and discipline. Other principles of universal significance are also incorporated that do not disturb the harmony of the Sikh faith.

The Sikh Research Institute offers a variety of theme-oriented sessions for emerging leaders in the community - high school, college students, young professionals and adults. Each event seeks to facilitate learning while enhancing personal development and growth for each participant.

Through each program, workshop presenters provide an opportunity for the participants to ask questions and seek an answer through discussion and interpretation.

Saturday - 15 December 2007 | 9am-4pm
Cornell Medical College, 1300 York Ave.
(69th Street and York Ave.) | New York, NY, 10021

The Guru: Connecting with the Divine Light
College Students & Young Professionals
The Sikh Coalition
$5-College Students | $10-Youth Professionals

This Mark of Excellence event will feature the following sessions:

Session I
What is Guru? - Meaning, Role & Importance

Session II
The Prophet-Genius of Ten Nanaks - Attributes, Lives & Contributions

Session III
Guru Granth & Guru Panth - Origin, Development & Institution

Session IV
Questions & Answers - Open forum to seek opinions from a Gurmat perspective

Directions: Within the city you can use the New York City Transit Subway #6 train to 68th and Lexington Avenue.
Parking: Several garages are located in the area, and metered street parking is also available.

For more information and to obtain a registration form, please contact:
Lead Contact | Manbeena Kaur
212.655.3095 ext.80 |

November 3, 2007
11:00 amto5:00 pm

The Sikh Research Institute is running a day long conference at Harvard University. Sounds like fun. Here are the details, contact Simran — ssingh [at] for more information.


Come and explore your relationship as a Sikh with your Guru.
What is Guru?
What are the community defining historical narratives of the Incomparable Prophets?
What is my relationship with Guru and how may I manifest that relationship.

Date: Saturday – 3 November 2007 | 11am-5pm
Location: Harvard University | Braun Room - Andover Hall, 45 Francis Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138
Theme: The Guru: Connecting with the Divine Light
Participants: College Students & Young Professionals
Sponsor: Sikh Students at HDS
Registration: $5 - Students | $10 - Professionals

Earlier this month I had the distinct honor and pleasure of participating in the National Catholic-Sikh Dialogue organized by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and the World Sikh Council. It’s a multi-year effort designed to deepen understanding between the two communities. As one of the ten Sikh participants I gained a great deal of knowledge and reaffirmed a bunch of truths I hold dear. I also made some new, awesome Catholic friends!

I once again saw that people of faith have a great deal in common, and that interfaith dialogue is itself part of the spiritual practice of being a Sikh. Through dialogue, you learn a great deal about yourself and gain some perspective on your faith. One of the things I appreciated about Catholicism was the discipline that Catholics keep around “orders.” There are many different orders of Catholics — like Franciscans, Dominicans, Paulists, and others. Some orders may be monks and nuns, while others live in the world. But they all seem to get along in a very organized and disciplined way. They all agree to a core set of beliefs and practices, and then they have slight differences in focus. I was impressed by that. I imagine Sikhs would have the same thing–our unifying feature would be the minimum discipline imposed by the Rehat Maryada (5K’s, etc) and then the ‘orders’ could form around different things like kirtan, sewa, and exercise (:)). Sometimes it seems that we need to get along better as Sikhs, and the Catholics who’ve been around for about 2000 years have figured out how to do it.


The Sikh Research Institute recently held a retreat for young married couples in Toronto. Good stuff. Hopefully, in a few years, I’ll be attending a similar retreat. PDF of press release below.

The Seattle Sikh Retreat, May 25-28.

It’s almost here! The Seattle Sikh Retreat 2007 is an opportunity for you to discuss and grow in your Sikhi in a “modern” environment. Questioning and analysis of the Sikh way of life is encouraged, and almost everything will get translated to English. Take a look at the retreat’s website. There are only a handful of retreats in North America. There’s a Chicago/Detroit Retreat by invitation only, the Toronto Sikh Retreat, and there once were Sikh Network Retreats which happened every six months. For now, the Seattle Sikh Retreat is #2 in the annual sequence of Sikh retreats and conferences. The current sequence is Surat, January - Seattle, May - Jakara, June - and Jago, September. So there we have it. Check out the site and be sure to register!