Friday December 14, 2018

Britain Sikh community to celebrate Baisakhi with most enthusiasm and hospitality

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Sikh devotees participate in the Baisakhi festival at Panja Sahib shrine in Hassan Abdel April 13, 2015. Image source- REUTERS
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By Pashchiema Bhatia

Tracing the history of Baisakhi, it is celebrated as the date of inauguration of Khalsa Panth by the Tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh in 1699. There are many other major religious significances and beliefs for celebrating Baisakhi. In 1675 when Aurangzeb was trying to spread Islam in India, the ninth Sikh Guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur confronted and was publicly beheaded in Delhi.

  • This incident coincided with the Vaisakh harvest festival in 1699 when the tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, inaugurated Khalsa against the dictatorial regime of Mughals.
  • Baisakhi is a festival which is celebrated with great enthusiasm and devotion. People visit Gurdwaras where community lunch (Guru ka langar) is organised and people of different communities sit together to eat.  For the farmers it is the time to harvest Rabi crops. This Baisakhi, pilgrims in India visited Golden Temple referred as Harmandir Sahib.
  • In London, with significant population of Sikh community, migrants will take out colourful street processions referred as ‘Nagar Kirtans’ by singing devotional songs.
  • In Southall, West London, numerous people participate in ‘Nagar Kirtans’ every year. Devotional hymns are sung with zeal and free food (langar) is distributed to everyone, not based on anyone’s background or religion.
  • Amandeep Madra, co-author of Warrior Saints and one of the founders of the UK Punjab Heritage Association (UKPHA) said, “Vaisakhi sees the British Sikh community at its very best; generous, hospitable, celebratory and unified.”
  • The Mayor of London also organised a special family oriented Baisakhi event in City Hall which included turban tying, art exhibitions and martial art displays. This Vaisakhi the Prime Minister hosted a Vaisakhi reception in Downing Street where prominent people of Sikh community are invited.

Pashchiema is an intern at Newsgram and doing journalism and mass communication from New Delhi. Follow her on twitter https://twitter.com/pashchiema5

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  • Chetna Karnani

    As migrants moving out after undeniable circumstances like the Sikh genocide of 1984, this is another step taken by nations like Canada and UK to strengthen and sustain their relations with India. Home away from home.

  • Yokeshwari Manivel

    a real honour to our indian culture 🙂

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  • Chetna Karnani

    As migrants moving out after undeniable circumstances like the Sikh genocide of 1984, this is another step taken by nations like Canada and UK to strengthen and sustain their relations with India. Home away from home.

  • Yokeshwari Manivel

    a real honour to our indian culture 🙂

Next Story

Pakistan And India To Construct a ‘Peace Corridor’

Indian pilgrims currently must seek visas to enter Pakistan and travel more than 200 kilometers to visit the Kartarpur shrine.

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India Pakistan, Sikh
Indian Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu, third left, stands for the national anthem during the foundation stone-laying ceremony for the planned road corridor to the Pakistan border, at Dera Baba Nanak,. VOA

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan will lay the foundation stone Wednesday for what is dubbed as a cross-border “corridor of peace” to allow religious devotees from India’s minority Sikh community to make free visits to one of their holiest gurdwaras, or temples, on the Pakistani side after more than seven decades.

The temple, known as Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, is considered to be the first temple ever built and the final resting place of Guru Nanak, the Sikhism founder.

Indian leaders, on behalf of the Sikh community, have long been demanding Islamabad provide unrestricted access to the holy site in Kartarpur, in Pakistan’s Punjab province.

India’s and Pakistan’s independence from Britain in 1947 divided the Punjab province, where Sikhism was born.

Imran Khan, Sikh
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan is seen during talks in Beijing, China. VOA

Indian Vice President Venkaiah Naidu performed the groundbreaking Monday on his side of the corridor at a ceremony just two kilometers from the Pakistani border.

The mutually agreed-to project is rare between the two nuclear-armed South Asian rivals. Historically strained ties have deteriorated in recent years and bilateral official talks remain suspended.

The fenced corridor of about five kilometers aims to connect the Kartarpur temple to the Sikh holy shrine at Dara Baba Nanak in India’s Gurdaspur district. Officials say the corridor will be in place for the 550th anniversary of Guru Nanak’s birth in November 2019.

Khan’s government has invited, among others, Indian officials and journalists for Wednesday’s groundbreaking in Kartarpur, three kilometers from the border with India. An Indian ministerial-level delegation is expected to attend the ceremony as special envoys of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Sikh
A Delhi-based Sikh organization Urges UN to Support Turbans as Religious Symbol. Pixabay

“Pakistan calls this a corridor of peace. I call it the corridor of infinite possibilities of peace,” Indian Punjab provincial minister Navjot Singh Sidhu told reporters shortly after arriving in Pakistan for the ceremony. He crossed the border by foot at the Wagah crossing near the eastern Pakistan city of Lahore to attend the event at the invitation of his friend, Prime Minister Khan.

Members of the Sikh community on both sides have welcomed the construction of the cross-border corridor linking the two holy sites.

Indian pilgrims currently must seek visas to enter Pakistan and travel more than 200 kilometers to visit the Kartarpur shrine. The temple is visible on clear days from a viewing stage on the Indian side, where religious devotees gather every day to have a glimpse of it.

Also Read: Vow To Hold Peace Talks With India: Pakistan’s Prime Minster Imran Khan

India and Pakistan have fought three wars, and mutual tensions often hamper pilgrims’ plans to get timely visas to visit the shrine. Two of those wars have been over the disputed Kashmir region, which remains at the center of tensions. (VOA)