In the late hours of the night of 23th March 2002, Giani Mahinder Singh Khalsa Ji and Bhai Manmohan Singh Ji (affectionately known as Bhai Mohn Singh) graced the Sikh sangat of Australia with their presence as they stepped out of the arrival hall of Melbourne International Airport following a 10-hour flight from Malaysia via Sydney. From that very first step, it was go, go, go. Phenji Moni (wife of Bhai Jaswinder Singh Mann, a long time family member of the Jatha) swept Khalsa Ji and Bhai Mohn off for an hour long drive to their residence.
They had barely a few hours of sleep when the Jatha was in the presence of Guru Ji at Gurdwara Sri Guru Granth Ji (Keysborough) for the Sunday morning diwan.. The sangat was thrown into ecstasy as Khalsa Ji, Bhai Mohn and Bhai Jaswinder Singh Mann immersed themselves into the kirtan.
Leaving the charged up sangat, the Jatha had barely 2 hours of rest before they jumped into "WAGURU" (the car!) which for the next three hours sped along the Hume Highway to a farming town called Sheparton. There are approximately 40 Punjabi Sikh families living there who are in the process of building a Gurdwara. Presently their weekly satsang is held on every Saturday in a rented school hall.
Even though it was Sunday evening, the sangat was in full force to welcome the Jatha. The Sikhi atmosphere was once again charged, not only with the Jatha doing kirtan but also from the sewadars who were in chardi kala spirits. In fact, in a Western society like Australia, to find Gursikhs in chardi kala is like finding a rare gem. The respect shown to Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji by the sewadars such as Giani Harpreet Singh Ji and Bhai Yoga Singh Ji were next to none. By the time the Jatha started simran, the feeling within the sangat was that of pure bliss. Not surprisingly, many families rushed out after the diwan to persuade the Jatha to put up the night with them. Sadly, we could not accommodate all of them. As the Jatha said their Fatehs, WAGURU brought them to the residence of a local Sikh family to rest for the night. The next morning, WAGURU hit the highways for our next stop. Yoogali Gurdwara in Griffith, another small farming community with a small number of Sikh families.
It was 5 pm as WAGURU pulled up at the carpark of Yoogali Gurdwara (Griffith). That gave the Jatha an hour and half break before the commencement of Rahras Sahib da Path. At 7pm, Khalsa Ji started kirtan as the sangat slowly started coming in. As usual, another hour of inspirational kirtan , katha and simran by Khalsa Ji left the sangat of Griffith spell-bounded. By the end of the satsang, the sangat were requesting the Jatha to extend their program in Griffith. Sadly, due to the tight schedule, the Jatha had to decline. At the end of the night following a general chit-chat session with the sangat, the Jatha finally called it a night at 11 pm. Accommodations were made within the Gurdwara for the night.
The next morning, after a hearty breakfast, the Jatha left for Forbes at 9 am in the morning. It was an approximately five-hour drive as WAGURU arrived in Forbes. It was a rest day for the Jatha as they met up with Dr Dalip Singh in Forbes. Dr Dalip Singh and his family moved down from Malaysia two years ago. They are the only Sikh family leaving in the town. Dr Sahib has had close ties with the Jatha while in Malaysia and had even been blessed by the late Sant Sohan Singh Ji (Melaka). To add icing to the cake, it was Dr Sahib’s birthday. After a day of catching up and sharing experiences, the Jatha rested for the night to prepare for the trip to Sydney.
The next morning (Wednesday), WAGURU left for Sydney. It was a six-hour drive as we pulled up at the residence of Sardar Harbhajan Singh Dhillon, affectionately known as "Tilloh Sahib". For the duration of their stay there, his wife, Vindhee and their 9 year old daughter, Jaypreet Kaur, did the sewa of looking after the jatha (especially filling up the hungry grumbling stomachs!).
An hour of rest and the Jatha left for their first of seven satsangs at Revesby Gurdwara. The sangat grew larger and larger following each evening’s satsang as word spread around on the bliss that each satsang brought. It was interesting to note that the Gurdwara sewadars were continously doing simran during any form of sewa that was being done. For example, when the langgar utensils were washed or the langgar was being prepared, Waheguru simran would echo through the still of the night. The sangat were understandably saddened towards the end of the tour and made it known that the Jatha were most welcome any time. They even tried to book the jatha for the opening ceremony of their new Gurdwara in Novemeber.
As the sun began to rise on Thursday morning, the Jatha said their thank you’s to Tilloh Sahib and his family and started their 12-hour drive to Melbourne. At 6 pm, WAGURU finally pulled up at the doorsteps of Bhai Jaswinder Singh Mann’s home in Melbourne, Victoria that brought the first phase of the Jatha’s tour to an end.