On business dedication: Every start guided by the Lord
Clunks of metal smashed against each other, creating a bell-like sound that reverberated throughout the entire room. A bearded man with a turban was singing on the top of his lungs, lifting himself to the Almighty. With the man was a drummer who melodically banged the instrument to create an upbeat feel. Most importantly, the harmonium elevated the musical atmosphere. The crowd sat in religious piety.
God was in the room. All were singing and devoting themselves to Him.
In Sikhism, this is known as a Kirtan, a religious hymn. In this particular occasion, the Kirtan was sang, in the Bacolod Sikh temple, due to a new Indian boutique shop being opened by Rawinder Singh, a Punjabi Sikh. It is believed, by the Sikhs, that in every new construction of a building, there must be a prayer to encapsulate God’s essence in the new location. Thus, in accordance with the Granth (the Holy Book), a religious priest, baba-ji, will conduct this prayer.
After the Kirtan concluded, all were invited to the common dining area, called Langar, to share a free meal. Once one sat on the floor, volunteers quickly grabbed buckets of lentil stew, dal, and plates of Indian flatbreads, roti. People quickly sat on the floor with their metal trays, which became filled with food.
In Langar, anyone, regardless of race, caste, gender, religion, and other social discriminators, can eat food for free. This system was established by the Sikh gurus hundreds of years before to elicit the openness of Sikhism and its devotion to making the world a better, healthier place for everyone. As one sits and chats with hundreds of people alongside him or her, all of whom come from different walks of life, one can’t help but smile at the
inclusivity of this system.
Once the Langar was finished, everyone returned to their homes. Mr. Singh was eagerly awaiting the next morning, which would finally be the day that he opened his shop.
As the sun rose, all were once again invited to the temple for a final prayer. Then, everyone went to 888 Chinatown Square, the mall in which the new shop would be opened. As one neared the shop, one could not help but notice many Indian people gathering in front of the store, especially with the priest at the forefront.
The priest, with his white kurta pajama, turban, and religious sword, said a final prayer in front of the store, which was blocked by a ceremonial ribbon.
After the priest said his last hymn, the Indian crowd in unison exclaimed at the last word, Waheguru: “God is one.”
Mr. Singh proceeded to call his chief guests, his sister, Jaswinder Pal Kaur, and his brother-in-law, Davinder Singh, to cut the ribbon to formally open the shop for business. As Mr. Singh and Mrs. Kaur cut the ribbon, the crowd erupted in cheers. The shop, after two solid days of prayers and devotion, was finally open.
Asked about the importance of the series of prayers before the opening of his shop, Mr. Singh said, “Whatever we start, we need to take the order of the lord. We need his advice. We need his blessings and guidance.”
Most importantly, Mr. Singh emphasized that this ceremony was deeply symbolic of his devotion to the religion. He said, “You need to apply the order of God into all aspects of your daily life, including your work.”
In the eyes of all the Sikhs that were at present, God had finally entered the store. He was blessing it and keeping guard of it.
Day in, night out.*