Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The meaning of the Sikh wedding

The Sikh Wedding Ceremony

In any function or ceremony being held at the Gurudwara or the Sikh Temple, the Sadh Sangat (people attending the function or ceremony) are required to cover their heads with a turban or piece of cloth, and remove their shoes before entering the inner premises of the Gurudwara, especially where the holy book or the Sri Guru Granth Sahib is kept. This is a sign of respect for the Lord’s house (home) just as in the Sikh culture, one will respect an elder of the family or community. This respect is a traditional way of showing one’s feelings for the elder one, and the Lord (Waheguru) is the supreme elder.
Also, in the Sikh culture, people of any religion or following are freely allowed to enter the Lord’s house and be part of the Sadh Sangat. This is because the Sikhs believe that there is only one true God anywhere in the world, and it should only be that one God to worship. That is why one can see people of all religions or beliefs are able to come freely to the Gurudwara and partake of the Guru’s langar – this happens all over the world.

Anand Karaj

Anand Karaj is the name given to the Sikh wedding ceremony, literally translated as "Blissful Occasion". Sikhs regard marriage as a sacred bond of mutual dependence between a man and a woman. A true partnership in marriage is made between those who are united in spirit as well as in mind and body. Marriage is regarded as a strong bond between the bride and groom and the relatives of both families.
Based on a concept depicted in Lavaa, the Sikh marriage is not merely a physical and legal contract but is a fusion of the souls; a holy union between two souls, where physically they appear as two individual bodies but in fact are united as one. The couple must feel and think alike and both must be completely identified with the other, i.e. they need to become "Ek Jot Doe Murti" meaning "one spirit in two bodies".
The Lavaa, or four stanzas, are read and then sung during the ceremony to formalize and sanctify the marriage. The Sikh religious wedding ceremony takes place in a Gurudwara, the Sikh place of worship. The ceremony is held in the presence of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy scripture book, and the Sadh Sangat, the holy congregation or gathering. This arrangement offers a way to bring family support into the lives of the couple. Guru Ram Das, the fourth Guru of the Sikhs has given, in the four rounds or Lavaa, a formula for a successful marriage. These four Shabads describe the sacred journey of the soul through this world to the final destination, the merging with the Infinite. If one follows this sacred path and applies it properly to the institution of marriage, it should result in happiness and fulfillment – Anand (Bliss).

The Lavaa – The Four Rounds

The main part of the Anand Karaj is the reading and then the singing of each Laav in turn. When the Laav is sung, the couple as a pair joint by a piece of cloth circle the Sri Guru Granth Sahib. This has relevance to the occasion and should not be considered a ritual without a meaning. When the couple circle the Sri Guru Granth Sahib each time, they make a commitment to God with the Guru as spiritual witness and support. And as one circles the Sri Guru Granth Sahib you are reminded that the Guru should be the center of your life, from which springs your spiritual guidance and understanding that you require for your soul’s long journey across this world’s ocean. The Sri Guru Granth Sahib is the center and the Sadh Sangat is your worldly witness and support.
The four nuptial rounds were written by Guru Ram Das for his own wedding. They explain the journey of the souls towards the Almighty. In them, he tells us of the duties that a person undertaking a life of marriage should perform.
In the first round, the Guru asks the partners to:
  • commit to righteousness
  • renounce sinful actions
  • remember, meditate and embrace Naam (the Lord)
  • understand that only by good fortune is real peace obtained
  • worship the one Waheguru (One God) and all your sins will vanish
In the second round, the Guru asks the partners to advance further towards meeting the True Guru - God:
  • have fear of God and your ego will disappear
  • sing God's praises and feel His presence
  • remember that God is everywhere, outside and within, sing in Joy
In the third round, the Guru says that the partner’s mind is filled with "Divine Love":
  • meeting the Sadh Sangat (Holy Congregation)
  • which is only obtained by good fortune
  • recite Gurbani and sing the Glorious Praises of the Lord
  • the Naam will vibrate and resound within your heart
  • and you will know your future destiny.

In the final round, the Guru says that the partners’ minds become peaceful and they will have found the Lord:
  • God's Will seems sweet to these Gurmukhs (beloved people of the Lord)
  • you will lovingly focus your consciousness on the Lord, day and night
  • all your desires will be fulfilled
  • the Souls will blend with Waheguru and only Naam will occupy your heart.



Monday, July 27, 2015

Question, Question Everything Until....

More from Ariadna Arredondo!

It feels right! What are we on about? Curiosity. Be assertive. Be real with yourself.
Okay, okay, let´s break it down:
Every day you've got some extraordinary power to leave a footprint in someone´s walk or to light up someone´s stormy day…
Every day you've got the choice to make your own surroundings better and work towards your goal.
Now, in order to get to this place, you've got to ask yourself. Ask yourself tough questions!

For example:
1) Do I do my best at work?
2) Do I set clear goals for myself?
3) Do I challenge myself?
4) Do I always give out the best version of myself?
5) Do I give it my all every day, at whatever I am doing?
6) Do I achieve my goals?

These six questions may look simple, be that as it may be, these questions are the ones that make you think a step further.

We all move through a fast-paced lifestyle, all the same, we need reminders to slow down and focus on what we want to achieve before it slips away. As we are trying to focus on the day-to-day things, we tend to forget the big picture. We forget to practice, we forget to call, we forget to do something for us… being tied up with everything else we have got going in life.
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Hence, we advice you to STOP! And question everything until you find what you are looking for. Don't let the daily errands take over your real passions and goals. By asking yourself these six questions every once in a while (every 2-3 weeks, keep yourself in line) you will really see what you want to do with your  life.

Be honest. Be real. Write it, sing it, post it, create it. Be truthful to yourself. After all, this is your life. 
Get to the root of it all, of what you are really passionate about, shake it up, remember to stay active and go for those goals. A trip, a concert, a dress, working out, taking better care of oneself, cleaning more, changing jobs, learning a language.. a thousand million things is possible in this lifetime. What is your passion?

Not only that, another key reminder is to Love Yourself, no matter what. You are who you are and are where you are because that is your path. So, give it your best, give it your all. And love yourself, love yourself every day a bit more, love yourself, faults and all, love yourself every step of the way.
And if it happens to be that you are happy with every aspect of your life, amazing! Still, keeping yourself in check is a great thing to do. All in all, balance.

Now, while you go find that balance, one step at a time, you also get the chance to talk to countless people on a daily basis. At the end of the day/week/month/year/life… you have talked to plenty of people.

Thus, all of these questions also apply to that. You are able to help someone every day without even knowing it. Just by the way you are, the way you act and the way others see you. You just never know whose life you can touch, without even wanting to.
All in all, it always makes sense to give the very best of yourself. Work hard, keep smiling and question everything until you find that balance that you want.
You know what we are talking about!

Do you have reminders to keep yourself in check?

The Always Believer
Spread the love!!!! :) Be sure to spread the message as far and wide as you can: Help yourself, help others, help the World.


Ariadna Arredondo

The Always Believer

Saturday, July 11, 2015

7 Ways that Dating is Like Job Searching

Sure, this might be weird comparison to make, but if you really think about it, you'll see that the steps in dating and the steps in job hunting are pretty similar!

Looking out for potential jobs: Most of the time, you're not going to hear about one potential job, apply for it, get it, and have it turn out to be perfect. (However, you may be lucky enough to experience exactly that!) The same goes for dating; right at the beginning, you're meeting various people, and you may not even know that you're looking for anyone just then!



Updating your resume/CV: Now that you know you're looking for someone, you're probably going to do some introspection; after all, how would you expect to meet someone who would work well with you unless YOU know yourself pretty well? Of course, the updating of the resume and CV also comes into play when you're trying to make a good first impression on your potential employer (significant other).



Applying: Maybe you've noticed some employers you'd love to work for; now, you need to get them to notice you! In terms of dating, this comes into play when getting to know potential dates a little better.



First interviews: First dates are quite important, much like first interviews. Here's where you get to gauge whether or not your date genuinely likes you (and vice versa), get to learn more about each other (how do they treat the server, and other such important things), and be honest about who you really are. Much like in a job interview, presenting a person to your date that isn't who you really are can end up with you finding a significant other who doesn't suit you at all. This is also the stage you get to be a little picky; you wouldn't necessarily accept the first job offer that came your way, would you?



Follow up interviews: By this point, you've probably met many different people and been on some first (and even second) dates. You've narrowed down your list, and so have they. You're using the time you're spending with potential significant others to learn even more about them, and see whether the two of you would be a good fit.



The job offer: Out of all the people you met and interacted with, a special someone definitely stuck out. They liked you, you liked them, and you both got to heave a sigh of relief! Someone makes the first move, and voila; you're exclusive!



Signing the contract: If the probationary period went well, then the both of you are ready for a longer-term commitment!



Can you think of any other ways that aspects of dating and job searching are similar? Comment below!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Being Lost

One more by Ariadna Arredondo!




How many times have you wondered about the times you can get lost in a large shopping center or parking lot? Or the woods or in an unknown place?

There are so many things that we have built that are bigger than we know. Every place is made by man. Someone one day thought of a building, wrote it down and from then on out it became possible. Insane, right? How one thought can just turn into a whole amusement park for that matter? We create these big buildings, cathedrals, parliaments, palace, bridges, ect… to achieve architectural beauty. Still, throughout any of these buildings, we can get easily lost with all the walls we built up. If we take the wrong turn inside that building, we just might lose track of the way out. We might just see darkness. Just one turn or a few, the life we would see in that building would be different. Guess there is a beauty to that. I really think so. However you have to know how to get out too.

Wanna know a similar truth? We are the same as that building.  All those walls men have created for that building, we have built the same ones within ourselves. Some for protection, some because it just happened to be right, others because we thought it was necessary.
These walls are all layers that make it difficult to get to the beauty of things. Sure, a finished well thought out building is divine to see, nonetheless, it depends on the eye of the beholder. It´s all a matter of perspective. That´s why some walls are good to keep.

Have you ever thought of getting lost within yourself? How easy it is to put these walls up and shut the world away? Or leave it open for the world but not for yourself? Think about it.
You may not know part of you is lost, you might just skim away with daily life like nothing ever sticks to you. It does though, this time is your time to check it out and realize it.
As soon as we realize that part of us is lost, we have the knowledge to know that we want to take a step towards a better path. It´s true that sometimes we do need to get lost to find ourselves more.
It´s like we were stuck in a box with all sorts of extremities to help us find ourselves more. How would that be?  Those are the moments we realize what we can do and how far we would go to get things. Or just stay still.

On our path back to seeing the light, seeing some part of you shine, we have to pass through several doors. With every door, we need to take the wall down with us. You see, in order to see the light, we need to have our space as clear as possible.
Why is that the bigger, the better?
We think that if we create all these big walls around us we become better and happier.  Why does it have to be big? Why do you want to fit the whole world into a building? There are so many of us to go around. We all fit with different type of people, not to put ourselves in social boxes, we just fit in with the people we like. And also, why have this big building built if you don´t share it with the ones that you love? Why do you keep yourself locked up inside?

Let down your guard, tumble-down those walls, let it all go so you can start sharing the light to your world. I am happy to tell you that it is welcomed. That the lighter you are, the smoother your ride will be. You can still have that big building, you can still have everything you want as long as you work for it.

It´s all about perspective when it comes down to it.  
Either big or small, either man-made or self-made, steer yourself out of the darkness and into the light that you want to be in. We all make mistakes, we all fall down, we are all people after all, making our lives worthwhile every second of it.
Let´s tear some walls down. Come on, get that hammer or just a push. Take it easy and do what you feel is right.


Remember, hate does not overcome hate, only love can do that.
You know where to hit me up with thoughts and more.  Get the all the goodies, follow along in all the social networks mentioned. You know you want to.
Thanks for the read, dear World Sparkler,
The Always Believer

Links: 

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Mediterraneo: Restaurant Review

Mediterraneo Westlands (picture courtesy of their website) 
Last Saturday night found me at Mediterraneo, 9 West, with my family, celebrating my eldest sister's latest promotion (woop!), and I decided that this would be perfect opportunity for a post! My recent ones have been more serious, and I think it's time to take a bit of a break.

The ambiance at their new location is pretty modern, and there's some outdoor seating on the terrace. We were tucked away in a little nook, and while it did get a little warm, this was ideal for conversational purposes.

For wine, we decided to order a bottle for the table, and I decided to try a Chardonnay I'd never had before. We ordered the Apaltagua Gran Verano Chardonnay. The vintage was 2014, and it was a screw cap. Yes, for the ambiance a corked wine might have fitted better, but this was still great! It was unoaked and fairly fruity, with flavours of peach and pineapple coming through. It also went perfectly with what I ordered as a main meal.


This is the point I apologise for my ignorance; I forgot to take a copy of the menu, and most of the dishes' names were in Italian, so I may have a hard time remembering what exactly was what. I ordered some type of pasta with an abundance of porcini mushrooms. The dish was more than just that, and hopefully I'll fix this entry later! It was absolutely delicious. The quantity was perfect, the parmesan was plentiful (always a bonus), and the food was served at a perfect temperature. 


My dad ordered pork chops, my mum chicken breasts in a white wine and mushroom sauce, and my grandad's brother had lasagna. My sister  tried a little bit from all of us, but since she had just returned from a late, heavy lunch (you know how weekend lunches are in Nairobi), she didn't get a main meal of her own.

The restaurant had a wide variety of wines and desserts, which I think is always a good sign. For dessert, I had their homemade strawberry ice cream, as did my grandad's brother. My sister had the vanilla, my mum had a sizzling chocolate brownie with Jamaican rum, and my dad had the yogurt ice-cream with mango coulis.

Strawberry icecream

Vanilla icecream

Sizzling brownie

Yogurt icecream with mango coulis

I don't have much of a sweet tooth, but I think I'd be happy returning here just for the dessert (and wine)! The service was great too; our server did everything right, including giving me the wine to taste before he poured. The manager came to check in on us, which was highly appreciated. So, would I recommend Mediterraneo to you? Highly so!


Thursday, July 2, 2015

My Father's Tears

Courtesy of Unsplash 

"A real man never cries."
-Plenty of people

My father is over 6 feet tall, has a loud, deep voice, and a very commanding personality. Among the people who use such terms, he would be considered a 'real man'. One thing he's never projected, however, is a false sense of 'what a real man should be'.

I've seen my father cry at occasions where normal people would and should cry; when our dogs passed, when I had my accidents, when my sister was hurting, when he watched a very touching movie, when he lost his father, and at other such moments in life. Not just my father, but I've seen other significant male figures in my life, like uncles and best friends, freely express themselves. Growing up, I always knew that being in touch with my emotions was never something to be ashamed of. However, I'm not a man.

I've heard many men and boys say it over the years, this silly mantra that's repeated and shouldn't be: "Real men don't cry." How does being in touch with your emotions make you any less 'real'? I don't have any brothers, but if I did, they would be among the lucky ones who wouldn't be subjected to this ridiculous standard; their tears would not be seen as weakness, they wouldn't be seen as lesser men.

In some circles, men who earn less than their wives are seen as weak. How does what you earn define who you are as a person? Fathers who spend excessive time with their children are called 'the mom'. Doesn't the father have any rights over his own children?

Courtesy of Unsplash 

By imposing these standards on men, by expecting them to be 'strong' and 'manly', we are instead distancing them from their own families.

Psychologically speaking, telling young boys that their tears are wrong can lead to so much damage later on. It might be harder for these boys to be empathetic as they grow up, and they will suffer because of not having appropriate outlets for their emotions.

Dear society, please let's stop projecting these standards and teaching boys and men to suppress their emotions! Let's stop sending a message that tears are a sign of weakness, that being in touch with their emotions makes them less of a man.

We're living in the 21st century, and men have as much right as women do to be in touch with their emotional side.


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