Vaisakhi celebration in Muslim-majority Kelantan


By Parmeet Singh | Kota Bharu

Muslims make up 95% of the population of Kelantan, a state in the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Famously known as the Islamic City, many would think that Vaisakhi celebration in the state would be low key affair or even non–existent.

On the contrary. The small Sikh community in Kelantan held a memorable Vaiskahi open house on April 17. The open house is a unique celebration in Malaysia where communities hold religious programmes open to people form all walks of life.

“Thank you so much for inviting us. We felt good seeing so many races under one roof and the food was delicious. Superb,” said Yannisha, a dental student at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), a public university based in Kota Bharu, the state capital of Kelantan.

” I am amazed how the Sikhs have managed to gather such a crowd here today,” commented Archbishop Emeritus Murphy Pakiam from Kota Bharu’s Church of Our Lady of Fatima of the Holy Rosary.

Sikhs in Kelantan have seen their numbers dwindle over the years. In the early years, Sikhs were found in the armed forces and the civil service. Today, they are mostly professionals like medical doctors, dentists and police officers. You have retirees, businessmen, teachers and students and lecturers mostly from Universiti Sains Malaysia Health Campus (medicine and dentistry). There also foreign workers from Punjab.

One granthi serves all three gurdwaras in the state: Gurdwara Sahib Kota Bharu, Gurdwara Sahib Tumpat and Gurdwara Sahib Kuala Krai (which was submerged in water for days during the Kelantan floods last year. (See Asia Samachar story here).


The Kelantan Sangat celebrated Vaisakhi in a beautiful manner over two days. The night diwan (April 16) began with sewa by the locals at 2pm. The diwan started off with Raheras prayers and continued with kirtan and semaphti after on. Kirtan was performed by a raagi jatha (kirtan group) from India. Guru Ka Langgar was served after the programme attended by 50 people.

The next day was a milestone for the sikh community in Kelantan. Sewa started at  4am and lasted till 7.30am. Thereafter was the nishan salami with kirtan and ardaas followed by breakfast. Then, some members of the sanggat were in the darbar while others were busy with the preparation for the Vaisakhi Open House scheduled at 12pm.

USM medical student Gurpreet Kaur and the raagi jatha did kirtan. The sangat sang together in pure bliss followed by sehaj path da bhog and ardaas.

Granthi Gurwinder Singh with Murphy Pakiam
Granthi Gurwinder Singh with Murphy Pakiam
KELANTAN SIKHS: (L-R) Surinder Kaur from Kuala Krai. Gurbax Singh, Gian Singh from Kuala Krai and Santok Singh from Gua Musang.
KELANTAN SIKHS: (L-R) Surinder Kaur from Kuala Krai. Gurbax Singh, Gian Singh from Kuala Krai and Santok Singh from Gua Musang.

As 12pm, people of all walks and religion started to fill the gurdwara compound. It marked the official beginning  of Kelantan Vaisakhi Open House. The guests were from various communities: Chrisrtian, Buddhist, Siamese, Hindu and Muslims. It was a perfect blend of Malaysians that have always held the local Sikh community in high regards due to their previous contributions. As the crowd grew, more and more sewadaars (volunteer workers, usually called premi in India) started to serve food. The Punjabi chaa (tea) was a big hit. Not forgetting the rotiyan (chappati) and all the lentils (sholah and dal) and vegetables. Ice-cream was freely distributed from a lorry parked in front of the gurdwara.

It is estimate some 350 people attended the open house. No mean feat for a small Sikh community. Looks like they kept try to the words of Guru Gobind Singh: Savah Laakh Say Aik Laraoun, Tabai Gobind Singh Naam Kahaoun (I will make 1 fight 125,000, Only then my name shall be Gobind Singh). The numbers don’t count, but the Sikhi spirit within.

Parmeet Singh is a dental student at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), Kelantan.


[ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs in Southeast Asia and surrounding countries. We have a Facebook page, do give it a LIKE. Follow us on Twitter. Visit our website:] 18553



Harakah picks up Asia Samachar story (Asia Samachar, 25 Feb 2015)

Nik Aziz was good to Sikhs, people of other faiths  (Asia Samachar, 13 Feb 2015)

MGC: Kelantan floods, GS Kuala Krai (Asia Samachar, 29 Dec 2014)


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  1. The Vasakhi Celebration in Gurdwara Sahib Kota Bharu was definitely a wonderful event worth attending… I feel so blessed to be a part of it. i was greatly amazed to see the amount of crowd gathered to make this Vasakhi Open House a successful event

  2. The Vasakhi celebration here in Kelantan was indeed a joyous and memorable one. I had a great time celebrating this auspicious event with the sangat. Wishing all the Sikhs worldwide a very Happy Vasakhi. Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh. 🙂

  3. Being away from home for Vasakhi saddens me. However having a bunch of loving people here to celebrate this auspicious day here is one of the best Vasakhi memories I would ever have. I totally love the open house concept here as it brings all of us together to make it a successful one with friends of different religion and culture joining us on that day. 🙂

  4. Indeed, I was astonished to see such overwhelming crowd during Vasakhi celebration. I’m happy to be apart of it despite being away from my home. Looking forward for the next Vasakhi celebration.

  5. This is my second year celebrating vasakhi with my beautiful Sikh family in Kelantan . Every year students like us long to celebrate vasakhi with our family because it is an auspicious day in the Sikh calendar. However since I came to Kelantan I have never once felt homesick because of the love and care the Sikh sanggat here showered me with . The concept of having an open house like this is just amazing because I am so proud to tell people what the Sikh religion is about . It is not only potraying the unity among Sikhs but also the spirit our forefathers have blessed us with . My only hope is that this spirit will last forever and ever . It is a beautiful experience and it can only be appreciated if you experience it yourself .