Singing Gurbani with a pious mind and soul, in itself, leads to spirituality; and when you sing it for serving the humanity, there cannot be a better way to serve the God. Dubai-based Manika Kaur has been doing the same through her initiative “Kirtan for Causes”.
The 32-year-old, who basically hails from Melbourne, has been donating all the money that she earns from her devotional music albums to non government organisation (NGO) -- Baba Sahib Organisation -- that works for child education and women empowerment in Punjab.
So what motivated her to dedicate her life for the cause of people?
“10 years ago, my family began the S.O.S initiative to get poor children in Khadoor Sahib sponsored. It has been a slow and a long process. My parents are currently sponsoring 500 children. My father approached Baba Iqbal Singh for spreading this cause across Punjab for educating youth about drug abuse. ‘Kirtans for Causes’ foundation is my way of contributing to this cause.”
Grew up in spiritual home
Talking about how it started, she said, “I grew up in a spiritual home and my family has been doing Guru Granth Sahib Ji seva for the last 20 years, distributing thousands of Guru Granth Sahib, including books and palkis to families around. Most of our weekends were spent doing Guru Granth Sahib Ji seva, going to homes of people and doing pahela prakash.”
“Every night our parents would tell us a story about our Gurus and then many times after dinner we would sit together and have a ‘jaap’ session. My brothers would play tabla while my sister and I would play harmonium and sing,” she said, adding that though she had always been surrounded by shabad and kirtan due to her family background, she got the idea of using her interest as a mission when she recorded her first album ‘Bandhanaa’.
“I had no idea it would raise over 1 million Dhirams (more than Rs 17 million) all of which was donated to building the famous Guru Nanak Darbar in Dubai. It was after this that ‘Kirtan for Causes’ was born and I hope to create many more albums that work towards a cause,” she said.
Manika Kaur is a YouTube star herself. Her recent video has garnered over four and half million views.
Journey not full of roses, faced criticism as well
However, her journey wasn't full of roses; she had her set of thorns too. Where on one end she had won hearts and accolades for her initiatives, on the other she faced criticism as well.
“I have received some odd comments. Someone wrote to me telling me that using a guitar is against the rules because the Sikh Gurus never used guitar and suggested that I should only use harmonium and tabla. I wrote back explaining to this individual that the harmonium was invented in the 1700s by a French man named Alexander Dubain so it was also not used by our gurus. I told him that I feel that all instruments are created by God and in my heart I know that there is nothing wrong with picking up a guitar and using it in praise of the ‘Supreme Soul’.”
“But now I have stopped giving responses to the negative comments and focus all my energy in kirtan. I have not only received love and support from the Sikh community, but other communities as well. I will be doing a ‘Benefit Concert’ in London this August to raise money to educate impoverished children in Punjab.”
New album coming soon
She is currently working on her new music track ‘Aukhee Gharee’ –which will be released soon. The video has been shot in Punjab, featuring children being supported by her cause at Khadoor Sahib. The album will be released in India in September. One can make donations or sponsor children through the foundation by visiting www.deedaday.in that allows you to support children directly or you can buy/download a CD to make donations.