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Ontario Assembly in Canada celebrates Baisakhi

For the first time, the Sikh holy book Guru Granth Sahib was brought to the assembly here on Monday to celebrate Baisakhi and the Sikh Heritage Month.

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Premier Kathleen Wynne paying obeisance during the Baisakhi celebrations in the Ontario legislative assembly. IANS
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Toronto, April 19
Top leaders in Canada’s Ontario province led by Premier Kathleen Wynne joined the Sikh community in celebrating Baisakhi at the Ontario legislative assembly.For the first time, the Sikh holy book Guru Granth Sahib was brought to the assembly here on Monday to celebrate Baisakhi and the Sikh Heritage Month.Wynne and her cabinet ministers joined the Sikhs as ‘kirtan’ was performed and prayers recited to mark the birthday of the Khalsa in April 1699.

The Sikh community’s saffron flag Nishan Sahib was also hoisted outside the assembly building to mark the day.

“It is the first time in the history of Ontario that the holy Guru Granth Sahib has been brought inside the legislative assembly building, and the Sikh flag Nishan Sahib installed to mark Baisakhi day.

“It is a proud day for Sikhs in Canada,” said Indian-Canadian politician and former Ontario transportation minister Harinder Takhar at the Baisakhi reception at the assembly building Queen’s Park.

Baisakhi is the harvest festival of Punjab, which also marks the Punjabi new year.

Dressed in salwar-kameez and with her head covered, Premier Wynne praised the Sikh community for integrating into Canada’s multicultural society while still maintaining its rich heritage.

She said she was very happy that the Sikh holy scripture was brought to the assembly for the first time and it created an atmosphere of peace inside the house.

Such events “should happen more often” to create an atmosphere of peace and harmony so that more productive work can be done by assembly members.

Wynne, who visited India in February, stressed that her visit was as much about promoting business as connecting with people.

She lauded the hospitality and warmth extended to her wherever she went in India.

Recalling her visit to the Golden Temple in Amritsar, she said it was a very beautiful and serene place.

Ontario (Canada) legislative assembly. Wikimedia Commons
Ontario (Canada) legislative assembly. Wikimedia Commons

She said she was overwhelmed by the sense of volunteerism at the Golden Temple.

In a lighter vein, she said India was a place where so much news happens and travels very quickly.

“There are so many newspapers I wonder how they read them all,” she said.

As her picture of making chapatis at the langar (community kitchen) at the Golden Temple was splashed in the media across India, she said wherever she went after that, people would say: “You were the one who was making chapatis.”

The Ontario premier praised the decision of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to apologise for the Komagata Maru event of 1914 to rectify past mistakes.

What is Komagata Maru incidence? Read here: http://www.newsgram.com/komagata-maru/

She said her own party legislator Vic Dhillon will move a motion in the Ontario assembly on the Komagata Maru apology and ensure that no future immigrants are ever discriminated against in Canada. (IANS)

(Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at gurmukh100@gmail.com)

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The Hindu Temple of Gulyana and Sikh Samadhi in Pakistan

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Gulyana, Pakistan

By: Wali Imran (Hindu Council of Australia)

900 years old Gulyana town of about a 50,000 people, just a few kilometers South of Gujar Khan, was raised to the ground once several centuries ago, by raiders from the West. The second time it was destroyed during the 1947 partition riots.

Gulyana, Pakistan

Before 1947, the Gulyana town center was mostly Hindu and Sikh. The Hindus and Sikh owned all the businesses in the town center and Muslims were their tenants, peasants and laborers. Muslims sold their lands to pay off their debts and also handed over their crop of wheat. The Dewan, Dutt, Mohyal Brahmin, and Singh families were always part of royal elite.

Bollywood Star Sanjay Dutt is from the same branch of warrior Brahmin Dutt and belongs to the same place.

Gulyana, Pakistan

Land owners were guaranteed protection from military’s presence in Gujar Khan from the North and a rivulet from the south. This land produced sheer gold and wealthy Sikhs and Hindus lived like kings in mansions make of stone, several storey high.

Gulyana, Pakistan

Bakshi Tek Chand, Dewan Prithvi Chand Dutt, Bakshi Moti Ram and Tara Singh were the dominant names of those times.  They built temples, dug up wells for the 30-50 kanal holdings each and distributed these lands amongst their permanent serfs. They did however, treat their serfs with respect and gave them a good share of the crop — what do you expect from absentee landlords.

Gulyana, Pakistan

The Sikh had a timber business. Logs from Kashmir valley were dumped into Jhelum River and recovered downstream near Jhelum city to be sold at Gujar Khan.

The Hindus were mostly traders, money lenders and retailers.

Gulyana, Pakistan

Muslims were mostly illiterate and poor and were destined to stay that way considering the only quality boarding school in nearby Gujar Khan had 95% non-muslim attendance.

During the 1947 riots, one Sikh Bali Singh and one Hindu Lady Banto were killed in the riots but the rest were whisked away with their gold, in the safety of Gorkha soldiers. The Muslim riot crowd burnt to the ground the several symbols of oppression and got rich in the process, during the looting.

One Hindu tehsildar had the magistrate’s powers to jail someone for 6 months.

Gulyana, Pakistan

When the British left suddenly in 1947, the carefully crafted social experiment in native subjugation came crumbling down within days.

Otherwise, one 100 years old resident of Gulyana tells me, “the Hindus and Sikh were very friendly towards the Muslims, their women played around with the boys, molvi were not trouble makers then; they cared about their serfs and neighbors’, built schools, hospitals and wells for the general public. No Muslim was allowed into their kitchen however. Balraj, Sita, Beera, Ramu Shikari, Gujrati, Peecha Singh, Mangat Singh, Jawals Singh, Raab Singh, Gurdyal, were the well-known Hindus and Labbu, Gurra, Jagdev, Santa, Paacha, Chatru were the known Sikh of the time. One Tek Chand Never left for India and embraced Islam. His wife and three sons left for India. Tek Chand married a Muslim lady and had seven children. They are all in poverty now. Several of the old mansion, one dhramsala, one temple, several bowlis (watering hole) have been lost to time.

Gulyana, Pakistan

The surrounding farms around Gulyana were refreshing. The old styled spoke wells, Sikh Samadhi, Hindu temple and 100 years old Gujarati’s mansion still survives.Gulyana, Pakistan

I went into the temple inner sanctum and saw the most beautiful frescos of mixed Hindu and Sikh religious figures like hanuman, Krishna, Sita, Baba Guru Nanak, Bala, Mardana, etc.

Gulyana, Pakistan

 

Pakistan government build a dam 5 km upstream, called the Ugahaun; it’s a lovely place to fish and boat around.

The union council in 1947 had more financial powers than it does today.

In short, all the entrepreneurs, educators, administrator, jurisprudence people, revenue people, land record people and large scale farmers left in 1947.

Gulyana, Pakistan

I am astonished how Pakistan survived with an illiterate mass of people, steeped in poverty — traumatized by exploitation and mass killings.

Other interesting places in Potohar region are:

Also Read: Protecting The World, The Hindu Way

Bedi Mahal, Pharwala fort, Malot fort, Sangini fort, Rawat fort and Mankial Stupa. (Hindu Council of Australia)