A crisp morning breeze greeted the Sikh retreaters as they walked through the Santa Cruz redwood tress to sit in the Guru’s court. The sun slowly began to rise during kirtan and birds started to sing. The smell of pine filled the air.
Such was the morning scene of the Saanjh Leadership Retreat that occurred November 12 to 15, 2015.
The Saanjh Leadership Retreat is a Sikh retreat with interactive workshops and discussions that explore subjects like an individual’s personal relationship with the Divine, identity, culture, history, literature, and current-day challenges.
“The mission of Saanjh is to create Guru-inspired activism and change,” said Saanjh co-organizer Mallika Kaur. “Saanhj means ‘togetherness,’ and our goal is to bring diverse people and voices together and into the conversation of how to be more Gurmukh (Guru-facing). By default, that means creating more activists who are inspired to change the world and make it a better place.”
For many, the daily grind of life can preoccupy the body and mind. Saanjh provided retreaters with a break from that grind and the opportunity to spend time reflecting on their Sikhi while developing tools to keep the craziness of daily life in-check.
“I found it incredibly rejuvenating and I am really grateful that I got to be here this weekend,” said Supreet Kaur of New York.
Retreaters pondered and discussed questions such as:
• What is the madness of life? How can I combat it from a Sikh perspective?
• Who are the oppressed? How can we be their allies?
• How can I live a more Guru-centered life?
This year’s theme was, “With this madness, what art could there be?” and the schedule included many talented mentors who approached the topic from a variety of perspectives. Sessions included:
- Gubani vichar by Bhai Gurdarshan Singh
- Gurmat sangeet lecture by musical aficionado, Manjit Singh
- Theater workshop by renowned novelist, Jaspreet Singh
- Art workshop by respected artists, Rupy Kaur
Saanjh prides its self on utilizing an interdisciplinary approach featuring spiritual, philosophical, cultural, historical, political, and activist angles to explore diverse topics. Many retreaters are drawn to it to connect with other Sikhs and to enjoy the power of the collective.
“I woke up and spent time with Guru Sahib. It was really amazing,” said Happy Kaur of California. “I feel so blessed when I see all these amazing people.”
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