The Role of the Sikh Nari Manch
In 1998 Bibi Gurdev Kaur Ji, was inspired to form a group for Sikh women, the purpose of which was to educate or in some cases re-educate Sikh women on the greatness and depth of Sikhi. It was in those early days, as it is now, a labour of love and belief, both for Bibi Ji and all the members of the S.N.M.
It is crucial that both as mothers and modern-day women, the women, reflect on their roles as Sikhs. They have to access and improve their knowledge, to realise the potential they have in shaping their own lives of that of their families and children as future Sikhs.
There was no other such group in the United Kingdom that was willing to celebrate Sikhi in this "politically correct" era of the 1990's, and state that women are proud of their religious heritage and beliefs. The SNM wants to share the philosophy of Sikhi, not only with fellow Sikhs, but also with other communities at large. It also believes that the philosophy of Sikhi is as relevant today as it was some 500 years ago, when Guru Nanak Dev Ji offered, all his followers, his message of love for God and mankind, free from prejudice and barriers, in which human beings of whatever sex, race, caste, or creed, were equal. This message is as important and needed as much, if not more, in this day and age, as if was in the Guru's Ji's time.
A very important objective of the S.N.M therefore is to celebrate the lives of great women, Sikh heroines, by organising exhibitions and Keertan Darbars. The fact that these Sikh heroines faced so much adversity and persecution, is very relevant to us today and only until we realise their sacrifices, and the greatness of our own heritage, can women educate their own families and children on how fortunate they are to be Sikhs, and they can "stand tall" when they face adversity in their schools or workplaces, and be proud to be Sikhs.
Another main objective of the SNM is to develop the understanding of Sikh women in the Sikh scriptures, the recitation of Gurbani and Shabd Keertan, Hence the SNM places great emphasis on bilingual work, in Gurmukhi and English, to ensure that our children will be able to understand the Adi Granth. This is very important because, for our great Gurus, the whole purpose of writing the Gurbani in Gurmukhi was to make it accessible to ordinary people, and not just an elite priesthood. (In the Guru Ji's days most scriptures of the Hindu faith were in ancient Sanskrit, and those of Islam were in Arabic, both of which were unintelligible to most people.) It is therefore crucial to make the Gurbani accessible to a much larger audience that such bilingual work is undertaken, to ensure that all of us can understand the message of God as given to us in the treasures of the Siree Guru Granth Sahib Ji.
The S.N.M. aims to give Sikh women, the opportunity to develop their spiritually. To be able to debate and discuss issues affecting them and their families in modern society, through events such as the annual residential spiritual camp.
In the promotion of bilingual Gutkas (see the project section) for those vulnerable Sikhs, who are sick in hospitals, and those in prisons who are desperately in need of guidance from the Gurbani.
The SNM also promotes the Sikh faith and forge links with other faiths, through participation in inter-faith events. (e.g. in October at Brindley Place-Birmingham, In 1999 the S.N.M. sang to a distinguished local audience including the Lord Mayor at Birmingham University, at the House of Lords-London, at the Chamberlain Square-Birmingham and at the International Sacred Voices Music Festival-Greenwich Park, London)
In 1999, the celebrations of the tercentenary year of the Khalsa brought the S.N.M. a number of opportunities: due to great efforts of Bibi Gurdev Kaur, three cassettes by the S.N.M. were released of the Mool Munter, Naam Simran, and for Baisakhi, 'Khalsa Mera Roop Hai Khaas' 5000 tapes of which were also released in India.
The S.N.M, also joined the celebrations by performing Keertan on Zee T.V, at Alexandra Stadium, Birmingham, the Royal Albert hall, London, where members met Prince Charles, at the Symphony Hall, Birmingham, in the presence of Tony Blair, and at the Guild Hall, Southampton where the members were given a special award for their bilingual singing by the Lord Mayor.
With Almighty Waheguru's grace, and the blessings of our beloved Sikh Sangat, the SNM hopes to continue spreading the message of Sikhi throughout the land and in some cases to reawaken fellow Sikhs, who amidst the struggles of life in this country, have forgotten the great wealth within their own religious heritage in Sikhi. They have forgotton that the answer to all their problems and prayers are in our own living Guru - the - Guru Granth Sahib Ji!