Wednesday December 12, 2018

Sikhism in Fiji: Samabula Sikh Temple

Soul is on loan from God, who is ever merciful, and the follower must dedicate their life to all good causes - to help make this life more worthwhile

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Inside view of a Sikh temple, Wikimedia commons
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Sikhs (belonging to Sikhism community) came to Fiji between 1879 and 1916. Unlike Fiji’s Indian population (most of which are descendants of Indian indentured labourers), Sikhs in Fiji comprised mostly of free immigrants (such as teachers, policemen etc). Sikhs in Fiji are commonly referred as Punjabis.

  • Sikhism is a religion which worships only one god. Originating in Punjab region (sub-continental India), it was formed during 15th The term Sikhism originated from Sikh which was taken from a Sanskrit word Shisya (meaning a disciple) or shiska (meaning instruction). Sikhism is the 5th largest religion in the world.
  • One of the philosophies of this religion (as mentioned in the holy text of Guru Granth Sahib) is that “soul is on loan from God, who is ever merciful, and the follower must dedicate their life to all good causes – to help make this life more worthwhile.”
Sikhism in India, Wikimedia commons
Sikhism in India, Wikimedia commons
  • There are several Gurdwaras established in Fiji in mainly Sikh concentrated regions. Along with worship, these Gurdwaras also provide food and shelter to the poor and needy.
  • The first Sikh temple was built in Samabula (near Suva), Fiji in 1922. Commonly known as Samabula Sikh Temple, it fulfilled the needs of poor Sikh migrants.
  • This spiritual heritage site which comes under the National Trust of Fiji is now expected to undergo a major restoration. Though there were several extension works done earlier but this will be the first major renovation work which will be carried out.

Related article : Britain Sikh community to celebrate Baisakhi with most enthusiasm and hospitality

  • More than Half a million dollars is the projected cost as estimated by one of the secretaries Haridayal Singh Rana. Members of the temple (both from Fiji and abroad) will provide assistance in this major refurbishment.
  • Presently many Sikhs have migrated from Fiji to western regions especially to the United States.

Prepared by Pritam

Pritam is  a 3rd year engineering student in B.P. Poddar institute of management and technology, Kolkata.Twitter @pritam_gogreen

 

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Puja for The Spiritualism, Not for Vulgar Entertainment

The westerners practicing Hinduism have learned a pretty well from our "scriptures" and are becoming more spiritual while we just locked up those "holy books" only in the drawers of the altar. Thus we only love to shake our “butts to the boom-boom of Bollywood”.. right in front of the Gods' idols !!!

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Hinduism
he westerners practicing Hinduism have learned a pretty well from our "scriptures"

By Salil Gewali

Any auspicious days in Hinduism are expected to be observed with a complete purity of action and thought. The same holds true for other religions too. As per the Hindu scriptures, the believers are required to stay away from any kind of sense gratifications, particularly when the specific days are dedicated to Gods and Goddess such as Navratri, Laxmi Puja, Krishna Janmashtami, Shivaratri, to name a few. The pathway to devotion and spiritualism should not be “desecrated” by the blot of the brazen entertainment. The scriptures logically explain why it is antithetical, and its adverse consequences.

Hindusim
Incidentally, the Bhagavad Gita describes such situation as the rise of “tamasic vibes”.

 But, what a huge irony, rather a blasphemy that many people these days have started to choose the auspicious days of Gods to satisfy their base senses. Without a wee bit of regret, a certain class of people holds almost every auspicious day as the most “unmissable” occasion to booze with the friends, and what not, and stagger back home, lol! Such bizarre practices are fast catching now than ever.  Sadly, hardly any conscious people and spiritual organizations stand up and take the right measures to check such godless deviations.

What is quite unpleasant is that such a kind of unholy practices are often being facilitated by certain “Hindu intuitions” as well. On this past Laxmi Puja, the “propitious time” to perform the ritual had fallen between 6 PM to 7:53 PM. Yours truly decided to use that span of time for meditation. But hell broke loose. Apart from fireworks around, the Bollywood songs in high decibel burst forth from a certain Hindu institution quite frustrated the mission.

Hindusim
Sadhu Sanga Retreat, 2016

 One senior citizen laments – “Nothing could be irreligious than the fact that a favorable time for “puja” is also being used for the wrongful purposes. We rather expect the “Hindu institutions” to teach our children Bhajan, Kirtan, and other spiritual activities, not the loud and feverish parties and disturb others.”

Another college student adds “Having been much disturbed by the noise pollution, I have persuaded my parents to shift our place of residence to elsewhere, not at least near holy places with an unholy mission. I have started to see such institutions with the eyes of suspicion these says.” Is it that our institutions are unable to use their “discretion”, and as a result, they fail to differentiate between right and wrong?  One is deeply apprehensive that Bollywood songs and vulgar dances might as well be included as a part of the “puja ritual” as we have long accepted the fun of fireworks bursting as an integral part of Laxmi Puja which in fact is just an entrenched “misconception”.

Hinduism
Hinduism is expected to be observed with a complete purity of action

Needless to say, our roar for consumerism has almost drowned the whisper of inherent spiritualism. We are only just sending out the wrong messages. I’m afraid, the whole culture itself might be looked down with derision by other faiths. It might just become a subject of ridicule! It is no exaggeration, such negative notions against the “wrong practices” are all what we often read these days in several newspapers and social media. Do we want others to demean our profound spiritual heritage thus?  I believe it calls for a serious soul-searching.

Incidentally, the Bhagavad Gita describes such situation as the rise of “tamasic vibes”.  It warns in the strongest terms that mankind should absolutely be careful not to fall under the influence of any short-lived sense gratifications. Or else, our endeavor to “practice and preserve” the sanctity of a religion/spiritualism will be a futile exercise.

However, on the other hand, the westerners practicing Hinduism have learned a pretty well from our “scriptures” and are becoming more spiritual while we just locked up those “holy books” only in a drawer of the altar. Thus we only love to shake our “butts to the boom-boom of Bollywood”.. right in front of the Gods’ idols !!!

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’.

Twitter:@SGewali.