As a kid, Gurpreet Singh would be all ears for any round of storytelling by his grandparents. And not just any — these were saakhis, a collection of tales and teachings from the Guru Granth Sahib, narrated to him in the most fascinating manner. So when he got married and had kids, he wanted to impart that same tradition of storytelling.
Thus was born the idea of an app, one that has audio stories based on Sikhism. As Singh launched the app, Saakhi — Sikh History & Gurmat, at the Press Club on Thursday, he shared with the audience how the idea took shape.
“Saakhi means stories. The aim of the app is to spread awareness about Sikh religion and its tenets through audio stories on Sikh Gurus, Great Sikhs, Gurbani Paath, along with answers to the questions on Sikhism that we always wanted to know. I feel it is an innovative way to get connected to our roots and the Khalsa traditions,” says Singh.
The app was also born out of the need to reach out to the younger generation who, according to Singh, lacks reading habits and self-study.
“There are apps out there on Sikhism, but are in the written form. Our focus was to provide a readymade option to youth who are on mobile phones most of the time to hear these bedtime saakhis or stories,” he adds.
Four to six minutes in duration, the stories are based on the life history of 10 Sikh Gurus and great Sikh warriors. Each story ends with a message that relates to history with a present-day context.
A unique option is the ‘Sawaal Jawaab’ segment that has answers to all frequently asked questions on Gurmat and Sikh way of life. “I would sit in my car, the air-conditioning off, windows rolled up, and then record in my own voice the stories,” says Singh, who took two days per story to record.
Once recorded, the app was then developed by a Chandigarh-based IT company which will continue to add audio information to it. A photography section in it invites people to send pictures to be included in the app. “The theme of photography is parenting with Sikhi values,” Singh says.