An Experience of Seva at the Darbar Sahib


Written by HarKiren Kaur, Courtesy of Sikhnet

The below text is a funny and illustrated description shared by Harkiren Kaur from Malaysia about some of her experiences doing seva at Harimandir Sahib and being a Sikh woman.  It is from 2006.

“I think I’ve mentioned that I have joined the school (Miri Piri Academy) in Amritsar for 40 days of seva (service) at Darbar Sri Harimandir Sahib (the Golden Temple). These lists are the result of 22 days of experience and observation from seva at Darbar Sahib. Care to look through my looking glass?”

Job List
Job Title: Bucketeer
Job Description: You shall stand on the second step in the sarovar (nectar tank).  It is your duty to fill up the bucket brought to you by the Bucket Carrier.

Job Title: Bucket Carrier
Job Description: You shall carry a bucket.  It is your duty to walk to the sarovar, get the bucket filled up and take it to the Water Splasher.

Job Title: Water Splasher
Job Description: You shall splash water (no, duh!).  It is your duty to take a filled bucket from a Bucket Carrier and splash it where you see fit.

Job Title:  Water Directors
Job Description:You shall direct water.  It is your duty to use your brooms to push water towards the draining holes.

Job Title:  Squidger
Job Description: You shall dry the parkarma. Once the Bucketeers, Bucket Carriers, Water Splashers and Water Directors have cleared, you, armed with your own personal 6-foot long Squidgy, will dry off the parkarma by pushing the rest of the water into the draining holes.

Clearly, there is no doubt as to who is at the top end of the food chain. The Squidgers. They are an elite group and you absolutely need to know the right people before you can even get close to a Squidgy.  (Once I saw a 3-foot long Squidgy. This was obviously someone on probation. We shall see how he turns out in a few weeks.)

Clearly, there is no doubt as to where I am on the food chain.  Right at the bottom!

 I am a Bucketeer. Actually I am probably the first bucketeer in the history of Darbar Sahib, seeing as I created the word in the first place and subsequently employed myself first :)

3 Levels of Buckteering

  1. Elementary: To fill up buckets to a respectable level of water.
  2. Intermediate: To fill up two buckets at the same time (talk about a challenge!).
  3. Advanced: To fill a/ two bucket/s without completely drenching yourself and the person in front of you.

After I mastered Level 1, I kind of speeded through Level 2 (read: I’ve never actually done this yet :p) and am now at Level 3. Which, I might add, is a true accomplishment seeing as I have a regular returning clientele of Bucket Carriers, and unlike my other colleagues, our little group is without a doubt drier than any of the others. So there.
Did I mention that seva is selfless service and we should not let our ego get in the way? That is Super Advanced Level 4… still working towards that one!

After being here for a while, you start to identify the regulars.  And not just regulars in terms of who comes for seva. Oh no my naïve dears, not those good, wonderful souls.

I mean regulars in terms of their criminal classifications.  We are continuously compiling a collection a mug shots to better our identification process.

A list of Offenses

Hoggers – they struggle with two buckets and unnecessarily spill water because of imbalance, even when there are clearly others who would like a share of the work. They say: You stay away from my buckets you! (In the background: splash, splash, splash, splash).

  • Flooders – they have no sense of balance whatsoever (even if only carrying one bucket). They tend to be of an over-enthusiastic nature. They believe in literally washing their sins (and the sins of those around them) away.
  • Punjabi skinheads– they walk away from a white Sikh and wait for a Punjabi to fill their bucket. My personal record is so far having 3 buckets waiting to be filled while my 2 friends stood on either side, jobless.
  • Head shakers – they disapprove of the women rolling up their trousers to their knees while doing seva. Apparently it’s not respectful. Uh huh, yeah whatever. And all those Singhs wandering around in their knee-hang kasheras clearly define being proper. Oh please, save the double standards for 500+ years ago, before Guru Nanak was born.
  • Pigs – they systematically avoid having a woman fill up their bucket. I am not kidding. Apparently we are lesser mortals not worthy of filling up buckets (how ridiculous does that sound?).  If there is row of women, they will walk all the way to a man and then backtrack to where they started off.  That is such a moronic thing to do, it just has to be a man’s idea!

OK, I think I’m list-ed out for now.

A prayer: God give them understanding and wisdom and me compassion and patience.

With love, Hari Kiren Kaur

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  1. Wow tough all though is a beautiful to see how the mind works and judgement comes in . Is like you just keep talking and saying nagging but the main part of it all is your doing something instead of nothing . Not sure if that makes any sense thank you for sharing also what a blessing to even be part of it that’s the the beauty to be in the present.

  2. It’s about time we injected some humor into our
    oh-so-serious Dharma! This was really great,
    sister!!:):) Let’s not be afraid to laugh at ourselves sometimes! Blessings.

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