By: Arimita Padam
Q: Tell us about your background: having migrated from India, what were your initial experiences here in the U.S.?
I was born and raised in New Delhi, India. In the 1990’s I got married & moved to Ohio. Both our daughters were born there. We were extremely lucky to develop some wonderful friendships during our stay in Ohio, some of which are active even today. Settling down in a new country was made so much easier for me, thanks to the wonderful support from them. But, once our daughters were born, we felt the need to be near Sadh Sangat. As Guru Sahib says –
ਮਿਲਿ ਸਤਸੰਗਤਿ ਹਰਿ ਪਾਈਐ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਹਰਿ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਇ ॥
So, we decided to move to an area that had a large Sikh population. Since we had family in the Boston area, we decided to move to Massachusetts.
Even though I was born a Sikh, I took Sikhi for granted, when I first came to the US. There was never really an impetus to understand Guru Sahibs’ message. But all that changed when our daughters were born. I taught myself Gurmukhi. Being able to read and understand Baani, in my opinion, was the first step on my journey to Sikhi. As my daughters grew older my involvement with our Sangat, Camp Sehaij, and Khalsa school also grew. In fact, it was with the encouragement from our daughters that led us to do Guru Sahib’s Prakash at home.
Q: What do you do professionally ?
I initially started my career in Desktop Publishing. Given my technical background and my creative bent, it was a great fit. The work was rewarding and fulfilling but was extremely taxing with some very tight deadlines. After my younger daughter was born, I found myself constantly having to choose between spending time with my family and my professional work. So, as a family, we decided that I will take a step back from my career for a few years to focus on my family.
Once the kids were a little older, I started my Frozen Gourmet Desserts with Whole Foods. Due to some personal reasons, I shut it down after a few years.
Throughout my career, the one constant thing that was on my mind was to try and have a healthy lifestyle for my family and me. I continuously experiment with creating and developing healthier versions of our favorite dishes. Creating simple, healthy recipes without compromising on taste is a challenge that I love to take on. I have turned this passion into a blog to share my journey with others. I document my journey in the form of recipes that everyone can try at home on my blog www.healthyeatsforall.com
Looking at the tremendous number of emails and feedback that I got from my blog, I found that providing tools for healthy cooking was not enough for my readers. They continued to struggle in adopting a healthy lifestyle. So, I decided to become a Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. My hope and passion are not only to help my family lead a healthy, balanced life, but also to take my readers along on this journey – one person at a time!
I have also been working with the Nishkam Team since its inception and that has inspired me to launch a YouTube channel to accompany my blog. The channel is still not public and, in its infancy, and I am thoroughly enjoying the learning process to get the channel up and running.
Outside of that, I am the COO and CFO of our household. I manage all affairs at home, including the finances and investments for our family.
Q: How do you balance this with your religious life?
Sikhi provides a beautiful framework on how to balance between our Spiritual life and our social life. Balance is about prioritization. I strongly believe that if it is important to me, I will find the time. So, I try to find some time every day for my spiritual growth before I start with my daily activities. This serves 2 purposes for me –
- It puts me in the state of “Sehaij Awastha” or calm equanimity. Connecting with the Guru creates a peace of mind and puts things in perspective for me. The highs and lows of daily activities and chores seem to dampen for me a little bit when I start the day with connecting with the Guru. Constant reminder of being in the Hukam of Waheguru forms the basis of gratefulness and mindfulness for me. This essentially becomes the catalyst to continue to create a space in my daily schedule to continue my growth journey with Baani.
- Starting the day with the most important goal accomplished early in the morning, sets the right tone of accomplishment for the rest of the day for me. It creates a positive vibe that carries into the activities planned for the rest of the day.
Q: What is your role in Nishkam TV? And what is your favorite aspect of working with this organization?
My role in Nishkam is as that of an advisor but I am also part of the Set Design Team. Creating the right environment is an essential part of the content delivery platform. Nishkam TV is still in its infancy and as they say, it takes a village to raise a child, so we all wear multiple hats. From working on set designs, to reviewing content to arranging logistics to just about anything else, I try to help where I can and am asked as I am committed to the success of this platform.
My absolute favorite part of this organization really falls into 2 categories:
- Watching the passion and commitment of the entire team – It is amazing to watch the entire team of volunteers commit hundreds of hours to produce content of the highest quality. There are team debates and discussions around even the minutest elements of the content creation process. Once a decision is reached, the entire team commits to getting the finished product out the door.
- The growth of our students over the past 2 years – Kids who started with the mindset of doing one more activity added to their repertoire by their parents and going through the motions, have now evolved and matured into taking on complex tasks and responsibilities and they continue to exponentially mature and grow. It is an absolute joy watching them and I am so proud of all them!
Q: What drives your passion for Sikhi? What advice would you like to give to Sikh kids and young adults?
Guru Granth Sahib starts with Number One. Baani reminds us that the Waheguru created everything, and Waheguru also is part of this creation. That essentially determines how we should lead our lives. If everything belongs to the ONE, then everything around us needs to be treated with respect. That includes our environment, our fellow human beings, and even our own physical body. Baani lays down the entire path for us. If this is not inspiring, then I do not know what is.
I am not in a strong position to give advice as I feel my own journey has barely begun, but my suggestion to all the kids would be to explore Sikhi as an amazing journey of personal and spiritual growth. If we read what the experts and lifestyle guru’s these days say are the ingredients of being successful, I would argue that Baani has already given us those tools on a silver platter. Let us look at some of the topics that get discussed frequently these days on podcasts and various social media:
– Be Humble – I read a lot about how leaders should be humble. Well, Guru Sahib has talked about humility repeatedly in Baani.
– Be Bold – Experts tell us to be bold and think big. In the Mool Mantar itself, Guru Sahib reminds us the Waheguru is Nirbhau – fearless. If we are Waheguru’s creation, then we need to be fearless as well.
– Be in a continuous state of learning – Today, we are told to continually learn and grow. Well, Guru Sahib called us “Sikhs” – which literally means a student.
– Be Mindful – “Mindfulness” is the latest buzzword today. We are told to be focused in the present moment. Baani reminds us over and over that we need to live our lives in the moment right now. Yesterday is gone and who knows what tomorrow will bring.
– Be Grateful – Gratefulness is also a hot topic that gets a lot of attention nowadays. Baani reminds us in the first Pauri (stanza) of Japji Sahib itself that we should always remain in Waheguru’s Hukam.
Ideas of equality, non-discrimination, religious freedom that are in the news daily have already been addressed in Baani 500 years ago. The tools are there with us, the processes are laid out for us, the relevance of Baani has always been there, so now it is up to us to learn and embrace the path.
Q: What is your hope for the future of Nishkam TV and/or it’s mission?
It has been a total joy to see how far the whole team has come in just over a year. I strongly believe in the role of the media in our lives today. Preparing the students of the New England Khalsa School and other Sikh kids around the country and across the world to effectively use this platform is an essential part of the mission of Nishkam TV. There is a tremendous need to have a platform to create a dialog, create awareness and recognize the accomplishment of both kids and adults alike based on the principles laid down by the Gurus. Students of Nishkam TV with the help of all the mentors have a tremendous opportunity and responsibility to create something special and I can’t wait to see what we do next.