Rare Bhai Maharaj artefacts on display

| Singapore | 5 July 2015 Asia Samachar |
Singapore DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam at an event to honour the legacy of freedom fighter Bhai Maharaja Singh, believed to be the first Sikh in Singapore - PHOTO CNA
Singapore DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam at an event to honour the legacy of freedom fighter Bhai Maharaj Singh, believed to be the first Sikh in Singapore – PHOTO CNA

Today is the last day to have a glimpse at the artefacts of Bhai Maharaj Singh, the Indian freedom fighter who was exiled to Singapore and believed to be the first Sikh in Singapore. The two-day exhibition is at the Gurdwara Sahib Silat Road (Silat Road Sikh Temple) in Bukit Merah.

Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam yesterday visited the gurdwara to speak at an inaugural festival to honour the legacy of Bhai Maharaj.

He was accompanied by three descendents of Bhai Maharaj from India, according to media reports. This year marks the 159th anniversary of his death.

The exhibition, put up by the Central Sikh Gurdwara Board (CSGB) as part of a month-long festival to honour Bhai Maharaj Singh, features some of his personal items such as a salottar (wooden stick used as a support and weapon), dastaar chakkar (turban steel quoits used to retain the shape of a turban) and a mala (rosary) belonging to the late spiritual leader and freedom fighter, according to The Straits Times (4 July).

Other than the exhibition, there will be other activities held during the month of July to celebrate the spirit of Bhai Maharaj’s generosity and humility such as an inter-Gurdwara football tournament, a children’s party, a health screening and a visit to an aged home.

“We are very privileged to be able to exhibit some of Bhai Maharaj Singh’s personal artifacts this year, so that people can learn even more about this great Saint-Soldier,” said the gurdwara chairman Baljit Singh.

“Having served the community and having endeavoured to be a good human being through the attainment of high spirituality, Bhai Maharaj Singh is an embodiment of the concept of Miri Piri (spirituality and community service). As part of the celebrations and to commemorate Bhai Majarah Singh’s values, the Sikh community continues to serve the Singapore community and donates rations and other essential items to the Mei Ling Street Home every year.”

The ST report goes on:

Bhai Maharaj is believed to be the first Sikh in Singapore. He arrived in 1850 in chains, after he was arrested by the British in India – which was then a colony – out of fear that his being detained in India may cause unrest there.

At that time, during the 19th century, Bhai Maharaj was revered by the Sikh community in India for his spirituality, patriotic fervour and for standing up against British dominion. He also led the movement against the British occupation of the Indian state of Punjab.

But he was arrested when a tip-off led the British to a meeting he had organised with his compatriots. Due to his popularity in India, the British decided to detain him in Singapore – far from his loyal followers.

Bhai Maharaj was thrown in Outram Prison, in a bricked up cell where no light or fresh air could enter. Six years later, after he lost his eyesight and developed throat cancer, Bhai Maharaj passed away on July 5, 1856.


[ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs in Southeast Asia and surrounding countries. We have a Facebook page, do give it a LIKE! Visit our website: www.asiasamachar.com]



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