Monday April 23, 2018

A Sikh Farmer uses turban to save a drowning teenager in Kamloops, Canada

The turban is a manifestation of the mission given to all Sikhs that is to act as a divine being by standing firm against tyranny and protecting the weak.

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Sikhism, Image source: Wikimedia commons
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  • The Dastaar has been an important part of the Sikh religion since the time of the First Guru
  • Avtar Hothi took off his turban and  threw it into the water to pull the girl to the shore
  • The girl’s relatives confirmed a member of the family was rescued after falling into the river but didn’t want to speak to media about the incident

The dastar or the Sikh turban is deeply intertwined with the Sikh identity. It is a symbol of sovereignty, dedication, self-respect, courage and piety and the reason all practising Sikhs wear the turban is out of love and obedience to the wishes of the founders of their faith. But for the first time, a turban has saved the life of a teen. Avtar Hothi, a farmer in Kamloops used his turban to save a teen who had fallen into the cold waters of a nearby river.

 On June 28 CBCnews reported, Avtar Hothi and his son, Paul, were on their farm near Heffley Creek when they noticed a teen struggling in the North Thompson River close to their farm. Avtar Hothi quickly sprang to action and took off his turban, threw it into the water to pull her to shore.

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(Image used for representational purpose) A Sikh man in front of Golden Temple. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
(Image used for representational purpose) A Sikh man in front of Golden Temple. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Paul told CBCnews that the girl who was about 14 or 15 years old was in a state of shock and was freezing as the water was very cold. Paul says that he doesn’t know how she fell into the river. They covered her with a blanket to warm her up and drove her back to her grandmother’s house which was a few minutes from their farm. The girl’s relatives confirmed a member of the family was rescued after falling into the river but didn’t want to speak to media about the incident.

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Paul Hothi said that his father doesn’t usually take his turban off outside their home. The Dastaar has been an important part of the Sikh religion since the time of the First Guru.When a Sikh man or woman dons a turban, the turban becomes more than a piece of cloth. The turban is a manifestation of the mission given to all Sikhs that is to act as a divine being by standing firm against tyranny and protecting the weak.

“I’m very proud of him,” said Paul Hothi, referring to his 65-year-old dad.

-This article is compiled by a staff-writer at NewsGram.

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  • AJ Krish

    True practice of a religion makes one understand that there is no greater glory than to serve others. Without a second thought, he put the life of the girl first.

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    What an amazing man! He saved the girl using his turban, a rich culture the Sikhs have been following. This is how religion should be worshiped

  • Aparna Gupta

    Sikh is a religion of help and this man proved it. He is a true pride of Sikhs.

  • AJ Krish

    True practice of a religion makes one understand that there is no greater glory than to serve others. Without a second thought, he put the life of the girl first.

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    What an amazing man! He saved the girl using his turban, a rich culture the Sikhs have been following. This is how religion should be worshiped

  • Aparna Gupta

    Sikh is a religion of help and this man proved it. He is a true pride of Sikhs.

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‘Concept of equality’ pervades world’s biggest community kitchen

The Golden Temple complex itself gets millions of visitors from across the country and other parts of the world annually

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Bangla Sahib is one of the most famous place of worship of Sikhs in Delhi. Wikimedia Commons
Equality is important for the biggest community. Wikimedia Commons

If there is one big leveller for people, irrespective of their religion, caste, gender, social status or riches, it is the “langar”, or community kitchen, at the Golden Temple complex, where the holiest of Sikh shrines, the Harmandir Sahib, is located, in this city considered holy by Sikhs.

Referred to as the world’s largest community kitchen, the Sri Guru Ram Das Jee Langar Hall of the Golden Temple complex is unique in several aspects. On an average, it feeds over 100,000 people daily — from children to old people — from all religions, castes, regions, countries; and people from varied social, economic and political backgrounds.

“It is a 24×7 operation that carries on day and night all 365 days of the year. This has been going on for centuries, since the concept of langar was introduced by Guru Nanak Dev (the first Guru of the Sikh religion and its founder; born 1469) and propagated by other Gurus,” Wazir Singh, senior in-charge of the langar preparation, told IANS here.

Unlike other government organisations and institutions in India, there are no provisions for reservations based on caste or religion. Wikimedia commons
The Golden Temple complex provides food for many. Wikimedia Commons

At any given point of the day or night, the place is not only swarmed by devotees wanting to partake what is considered as blessed by service but by hundreds of volunteers who are ever-so-ready to be part of the voluntary cooking and serving process. The langar food is even sent thrice daily to the two Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC)-run hospitals in Amritsar, especially to a ward where treatment of mentally-ill patients and drug-addicts is being carried out. The SGPC is tasked with the management all Sikh shrines.

“We have over 500 volunteer employees. The sangat (community) also pitches in with great enthusiasm daily. People come from across Punjab on trucks and tractor-trolleys — even other states, different countries — to help in this massive exercise of making and serving food. Several local residents, including women, have been coming here for years. People take time out of their government and private jobs to serve here, irrespective of their religion or caste. We welcome everyone with love,” Wazir Singh, speaking in Punjabi, pointed out, even as he continued to issue instructions to staffers involved in cooking the langar.

The langar is all vegetarian — comprising mainly of dal (maa-chole ki dal), rice (slightly salted for taste), chapattis, achar (pickle) and a vegetable, along with something sweet (kheer or prasad). In the morning, the “chai langar” comprises of tea and rusk.

The devotees sit down on the matted floor inside the langar hall in rows. To manage the huge rush, the SGPC volunteers allow only a few hundred to enter the hall at one time. The whole operation is carried out in a meticulous manner as a daily routine.

Also Read: ‘Government chalked out 1984 anti-Sikh genocide’

“The whole exercise is quite enormous but it goes on, with the blessings of the almighty, seamlessly. The daily expense is around Rs 15 lakh. We use 100 quintals (100 kg) rice and up to 30 kg (each) of dal and vegetables daily. Over 100 LPG cylinders (domestic size) are used daily for the cooking along with hundreds of kilograms of firewood for the traditional cooking. Nearly 250 kg of ‘desi ghee’ (clarified butter) is used in the cooking. We have over three lakh steel plates. We can serve 10 lakh (one million) people in a day,” Gurpreet Singh, in-charge of the kitchen, told IANS. SGPC functionaries pointed out that 30,000-35,000 people from Amritsar and nearby areas are daily visitors to the shrine and partake langar thrice. Many of these are migrants from other states and poor people who cannot afford meals.

“Our doors are open for everyone without discrimination. We follow the concept of equality here,” said Amrit Pal Singh, a SGPC official at the Information Office. The chapattis, in the thousands, are made on eight chapatti-making machines and even by hand by women and men volunteers. The steel utensils (plates, glasses and spoons), used by devotees, also numbering in lakhs, are washed voluntarily by the devotees themselves or by volunteers.

“The shrine complex has such a spiritual attraction about it. The langar served here leaves you satisfied in many aspects. The whole experience touches your soul,” Ramesh Goyal, a devotee from Bathinda, said.

“I had always heard about this shrine. Today, what I experienced was heavenly. The langar service is unparalleled in any religion. They do it with so much devotion and humility despite such huge crowds. It is unimaginable,” Tariq Ahmed, who had come here with his family from Patna in Bihar, told IANS. Anup Singh, a young Sikh devotee from Amritsar, often accompanies his grandparents and parents to the shrine.

Sikh Community, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh
Children belonging to Sikh Community, Wikimedia Commons 

“I love to serve chapattis to the people having langar. It is a very satisfying and fulfilling experience,” he said. “The whole exercise is carried out selflessly. It is a big task but everything is carried out smoothly. We keep introducing changes depending on the needs of the devotees,” Roop Singh, Chief Secretary of the SGPC, told IANS.

The SGPC, known as the mini-parliament of Sikh religion, manages the Golden Temple complex and gurdwaras across Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. It has an annual budget of over Rs 1,100 crore, mostly from donations at the gurdwaras.

The Golden Temple complex itself gets millions of visitors from across the country and other parts of the world annually. The strong Sikh diaspora in other countries like United States, Britain and Canada actively contributes to the shrine and visits it whenever they can. IANS