A Brief History of Annual Gurmat Parchaar Samelan

Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia (SNSM) is a youth organization looked up to by the Sikh community around the world as a model to be emulated.  Sikh youth from many countries attend our programmes and take back good practices and programmes to implement in their own countriesdownload.

Staring from humble beginnings back in 1963, the Sabha has attained its current position through sheer hard work and dedication of its numerous sewadars, with the grace of Waheguru and the constant support and blessings of the Sanggat.

In answering the need of the next generation, who  find the existing format of parchaar in Gurdwaras less appealing, what is required is a national organization that can cater for the parchaar and social needs of the younger generation.

In late 1963, Master Gurbachan Singh from Port Dickson went to Malacca to meet Sant Baba Sohan Singh Ji to discuss the future of the Sikh youth. A few other concerned individuals met in Sdr. Tara Singh’s house.  These discussions led to the 1st Gurmat Parchaar Samelan at Gurdwara Sahib Port Dickson in December 1963. The success of this all boys Samelan led to the eventual formation of the Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia in 1964.

Sant Baba Sohan Singh Ji was appointed the first Patron and Master Gurbachan Singh was elected the first Jathedar of the Sabha. Many dedicated individuals joined the Sabha e.g. Master Manjit Singh, Master Karaminder Singh, Master Joginder Singh Rumi, Sdr. Sarjit Singh Bassian, Master Bhagwan Singh, Baba Isher Singh and many others.

As mentioned above, the First Gurmat Parchaar Samelan was held in Port Dickson in 1963 with 22 participants (all boys) and another in 1964 at the same venue. Many young girls had shown a keen interest to participate in these Samelans.

Master Gurbachan Singh went to Malacca to seek Sant Baba Sohan Singh Ji’s advice about its implications. After listening to the matter at hand, Baba Ji replied, “When a Sikh boy obtains knowledge on Sikhism, it usually benefits only him. However, when a Sikh girl acquires knowledge on Sikhism, her entire family may benefit, even more so when she gets married and has her own family. In Sikhism, both men and women are given equal status.

Annual Gurmat Parchaar Samelan 1971

An enlightened lady in education and religion will foster good family values as well as unity and harmony at home. Master Gurbachan Singh thanked Sant Baba Sohan Singh Ji for his most valuable advice and returned to Port Dickson to finalise the details of the joint Samelan for boys and girls. So in 1967 girls were included in Samelans. For the next 5 years the Annual Gurmat Parchaar Samelans were held in Port Dickson.

In 1970 the Annual Gurmat Parchaar Samelan grew bigger with 250 participants, both boys and girls, and moved to Wadda Gurdwara Kampung Pandan, Kuala Lumpur. By late 1970’s, the Annual Gurmat Parchaar Samelans moved into schools as the growing need of space could not be met by our Gurdwaras. Most of the Samelans are held along the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia as the Sikh population is bigger here.

One of the obvious “exports” of the Sabha to the world, at least to Sikhs in this region, is the Sabha’s Samelan technology. The Sabha organizes Samelans with participants ranging from 100 to 1,200 in number. The ‘technology’, or the Samelan know-how, has been deployed at Samelans in various countries around the globe, including Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, the UK, Canada, Italy, France, Switzerland, Sweden, India and Australia.

Over the years, the band of volunteers have made changes to keep improving the Samelans. As ever, it is work in progress. While every Samelan has something new, major changes are made in the Annual Gurmat Parchaar Samelan to reflect with time. The results of our fore fathers and far-sighted vision is indeed commendable. Fifty years later, the achievements of Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia are there for all to reflect upon today – Gurmat Parchaar, Amrit Sanchar, Kirtan, Ketha, Annual Samelans, Holla Mahalla Games and assistance to the needy, etc.