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Sikh Temple Gurudwara in Belgium closed for security reasons

Hans Bonte, Mayor of Vilvoorde town, has ordered the closure of Gurudwara

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Representational Image. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

BRUSSELS, Sept 10, 2016: Belgian authorities have ordered the closure of a Sikh gurudwara (temple) for an indefinite period citing a security threat, local media reported on Saturday.

Hans Bonte, Mayor of Vilvoorde town, has ordered the closure.

The town outside Brussels has only a dozen Sikh residents but because of the town’s central location the Vilvoorde gurudwara was well frequented, said the VRT news outlet. (IANS)

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Five Years of Massacre: Sikh Community in US Continue to Hail Act Of Kindness

Devout male followers of the Sikh faith, a monotheistic religion that originated in Northern India, keep long beards and wear turbans, and often are confused with Muslims

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Six people were killed when a white supremacist attacked the Gurdwara or Sikh Temple of Wisconsin five years ago. VOA

Aug 06, 2017: Over the past year, minorities across the United States have increased their outreach to the public and efforts to make their voices heard amid fears of a White Supremacy movement.

The Sikhs of Oak Creek, however, were working to raise awareness of their faith and uplift their community long before 2016.

On August 5, 2012, a white supremacist named Wade Michael Page killed six believers of the Sikh faith in their house of worship, a Gurdwara, outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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Mourners attend the funeral and memorial service for the six victims of the Sikh temple of Wisconsin mass shooting in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, Aug. 10, 2012. VOA

In the five years since, members of the Gurdwara have organized scholarships, blood drives, 6K walks and runs, and presentations on understanding the Sikh faith in local schools.

“My outreach is also a coping mechanism,” Pardeep Kaleka, whose father was one of the six victims, told VOA. “Processing my own pain and hurt… I’d rather just go into the community and make it better for everybody else.”

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Members of the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, prepare a communal meal for the community. VOA

Immediately after the shooting, the Sikh community increased its efforts to invite people of all faiths to come to the temple and learn about Sikhism.

But Navdeep Gill, who co-founded the temple’s outreach program, “Serve to Unite,” with Kaleka, says they soon realized they also needed to spread awareness outside the temple after members of the community said they were uncomfortable attending Sikh services.

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“Peacekeepers” at a Montessori school made this mural after a workshop with “Serve to Unite” – the organization started by the son of one of the victims of the 2012 shooting. VOA

“Whatever faith you practice, whatever community you come from, you should feel comfortable attending an event,” said Gill, who was tasked with organizing events commemorating the 5th anniversary of the shooting. “Whether that’s in schools, churches, telling other people who Sikhs are, as well as trying to learn about other people and see where the commonalities exist.”

Also Read: California Sikh community Raises Money to keep City’s Fireworks Show Alive

 Saturday’s 6K run is the 5th instance of the annual event. The blood drive was added three years ago to the August 5 activities.
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A man completes the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin’s 6k “Chardhi Kala” Run with a high five. VOA

This year, members of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin had their first float in the 4th of July parade. Though organizers were initially skeptical, Gill said it was well received and prompted non-Indian neighbors to strike up conversations with participating Sikhs.

Devout male followers of the Sikh faith, a monotheistic religion that originated in Northern India, keep long beards and wear turbans, and often are confused with Muslims.

And while some minorities across the country have expressed feeling less safe since U.S. President Donald Trump’s election, Oak Creek Sikhs say the political climate hasn’t affected their community.

“Honestly, nothing has changed,” Navdeesh Toor, an Oak Creek resident and member of the Gurdwara for the past eight years, told VOA.

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People gather in Lafayette near the White House, Aug. 8, 2012 to participate in a candlelight vigil against hate violence. VOA

Toor said that although hate crimes have received more media attention in the past year, which some attribute partly to divisive rhetoric heard during President Trump’s campaign and first few months in office, she doesn’t see any impact on her community.

“A vast majority of Wisconsinites voted for Trump, including minorities and a lot of desis [South Asians] I know,” she said, adding that she didn’t fault her neighbors for voting for “the lesser of two evils” in 2016.

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Regardless of politics in Washington, survivors of the 2012 shooting, along with their friends, family, and fellow members of the Gurdwara, have not lost momentum in their pursuit of engaging the community.

“It’s not just about organizing 5Ks, it’s about… what we’re really being asked to do spiritually,” Kaleka said.

“I think there’s a reason [the shooting] happened, a reason those people who stood up made that sacrifice. This community has really stood up.” (VOA)

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Week-long celebrations to mark the Third Edition of International Yoga Day in Belgium and Luxembourg

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Yoga. Wikimedia

Brussels, April 25, 2017: Week-long celebrations will be held in Belgium, Luxembourg and prominent European Union institutions to mark the third edition of International Yoga Day on June 19, the organisers said here on Tuesday.

The Indian Embassy in Brussels will organise the events in close cooperation with yoga institutes, schools and universities in various Belgian cities, including Brussels, Antwerp, Durbuy, Ghent, Leuven, Kortrijk, Enghien, Liege, Mons, and in Luxembourg from June 17 to June 25.

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The flagship event of the third International Day of Yoga will be held at Bois de la Cambre park in Brussels on June 18, where the programme will include a public yoga session followed by specific mini-Yoga sessions emphasising the different aspects of yoga.

Rakesh Kumar Arora, Counsellor and Charge d’ Affaires at the Indian embassy in Brussels, said 6,000 yoga enthusiasts participated in the various Yoga events held in Belgium, Luxembourg and the EU last year.

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He recalled that in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his address at the United Nations General Assembly had defined Yoga as “India’s gift to the world” and had urged global leaders to observe an International Day of Yoga.

In a positive response, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution in December 2014 designating June 21 as the International Day of Yoga. (IANS)

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Mahinder Pal Singh: For the First time a Sikh in Pakistan secures a place in the National Cricket Academy

Pakistan's cricketing history has only seen seven non-muslim cricketers representing the country

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Pakistan Cricket Team. Facebook

Lahore, December 20, 2016: Pakistani cricket has seen Christians and Hindus represent the country at home and abroad, but for the first time a Sikh has secured a place in the National Cricket Academy.

Mahinder Pal Singh, who hails from Nankana Sahib (Lahore), is among the list of top 30 emerging cricketers in the country, Geo News reported.

In a video circulating on social media, Singh expressed his desire to make Pakistan proud and thanked his coach and the chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board for having faith in him and recognising his talent.

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Singh said he was proud to be able to represent the entire Pakistani Sikh community and to have secured a place at the Pakistani Cricket Academy.

Pakistan’s cricketing history has only seen seven non-muslim cricketers representing the country.

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Over the years Pakistan cricket has been missing out on on regular international cricketing events on home soil, which has been served as the prime reason for the Pakistani cricket that was facing a dearth of new talent. (IANS)