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Thursday, March 21, 2019

Postcards from Punjab

First Impressions of Harmandir Sahib

Parents all wish great things for their children. For them to do better and be better than us. To dream big and to achieve anything their heart desires. Along this journey, we want to show them the world to help foster their curiosity and creativity. However, before we did that we wanted to take them to the place that they were from.  As the saying goes: "to know where you are going, you need to know where you have come from."

We felt it was finally time (ok, more like I was finally brave enough), to take our kids to Punjab, India. To take them to the homeland of their grandparents, so they could appreciate and see first hand the sacrifices of the lives they left behind to build a new life in Canada. To show them that each opportunity that they now have is directly because of the 4 individuals who left behind their families and homes.

Our family in Harmandir Sahib - the holiest Gurdwara for Sikhs.
So, we planned and booked a trip to India - our first BIG trip with the kids. Both my husband and I had been many times growing up, but neither had been since we got married. This was also my first trip to India as a mom - gulp - so I had to "mom" up.

Honestly - it felt overwhelming. A country I had been to numerous times felt so utterly foreign to navigate. How was I supposed to take my own children there - keep them healthy and happy and instil a sense of appreciation and gratitude for their roots and family? But somehow, we not only survived this trip, but we even thrived.


In my dad's childhood village

What I hope they will remember: 
  • Harmandir Sahib: Also commonly known as the Golden Temple, it is in Amritsar and is the holiest Gurdwara for Sikhs. It has a historical and spiritual importance that we wanted to share first hand with our kids. Every time my husband and I have been (this was our first time together), we have felt an absolute overwhelming feeling of love, peace and belonging. I hope that my children always remember that feeling from their first visit.

  • The simplicity of pind (village) life: I hope they remember playing outside, along the fields that their ancestors have cultivated, eating raw sugar canes like their mom used to, tasting the simple farm fresh food shared with their extended family. I hope they remember the crumbling building that was the home my father was born in, and of the stories they heard when my mom went to visit for the first time after she got married.  I hope they remember the stories of how my sister and I played through those alleyways and were openly welcomed by kids who didn't understand our unusual clothes and language. 


  • Going north to the foothills of the mountains and the the birthplace of the Khalsa, Anandpur Sahib: I hope they remember the stories told to them by their grandparents and place them at this very site. To remember that they weren't merely bedtime stories, but stories of their own history, people and faith. I hope they always remember where their name "Kaur"comes from; that this name tells them and the world that they are sovereign individuals, strong and independent. (Kaur is given to Sikh females and "Singh" to males. These names were given to  Sikhs to replace surnames as a symbol that all are equal.)
Serenity in Anandpur Sahib

  • Visiting their paternal grandfather's childhood home: as we watched our  girls explore this 101  year old house they heard the stories of the summers their dad spent there.  They even practiced pumping water from the well and making roti's on an outdoor stove with their grandmother. I hope when they turn off the lights at home they remember that their grandparents grew up in these homes that had no running water and electricity. That they see how far we have come in one generation and that they keep the sacrifices of their grandparents close to their heart.
In their grandfather's village, learning how to pump water.

Above all, I hope they always remember who they are, no matter where they go. That they are not just the unique individuals we have tried to raise them to be, but also that they are part of a greater story. That their story started in Punjab.














































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4 comments

  1. Thanks for sharing Raj! This was so beautifully written and has inspired me to start planning a journey for my family so they can be reminded of where their story began.

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  2. Thank you so much for your kind words! It really can be such an over whemling task when planning, but it is so worth it!

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  3. Wow Raj! What a great way to share your experience and well written.. guess what, this summer we are also taking our kids to India for the very first time. We are very excited and each day is dedicated to planning the biggest family vacation and i feel so proud to take my kids back as well.. might need further tips from you. ����

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    1. Thank you! That's so great! Honestly, at times we wished we had done it sooner. It will be so special! Let's chat for sure!

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