| Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia | 12 Sept 2015 | Asia Samachar |
By HB Singh
The Akal Takht has issued an edict requiring Sikhs worldwide to get its permission before opening up any new gurdwara sahibs, a move that is certain to cause consternation in the Sikh diaspora.
The decision was taken after a ‘thorough deliberation’ of the 5 Singh Sahibs at the Akal Takht secretariat in Amritsar, Punjab, according to a letter dated 10 Sept 2015 from the Sikh religious authority.
The letter is available on the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee (SGPC) website. It was together with a number of other letters, including one bestowing the ‘Shiromani Sewak’ title to SGPC president Avtar Singh.
In immediate reactions to queries from Asia Samachar, quarters involved in Sikhi parchaar (Sikh preaching) in Malaysia were hard pressed to justify the decision.
“Until we understand the rationale for the ruling, it seems at first reading to be difficult to implement and enforce,” said Coalition of Malaysian Sikh Organisations (CMSO) secretary general Autar Singh.
After a thorough deliberation, the five Singh Sahibs had decided whosoever intends to build a gurdwara sahib any where in the world should first get the approval of the Akaal Takhat, according to the letter.
It was signed by Akal Takhat jathedar Gurbachan Singh, Takht Sri Patna Sahib jathedar Giani Ikbal Singh, Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib jathedar Mal Singh, Takht Sri Damdama Sahib jathedar Gurmukh Singh and Takht Hazoor Sahib granthi Ram Singh.
“I’ve put some thought to it but I don’t seem to be able to think of any conceivable reason for the 5 Singh Sahibaans to come up with such a ruling,” said Sikhi Lehar Malaysia (SLM) founder Balvinder Singh, a lawyer by profession.
“Necessity for new Gurdwaras anywhere in the world should be left to the collective wisdom of the local Sikh sanggat.”
SLM is a Facebook-based closed discussion group that has more than 3,000 members.An official from a Amritsar-based Sikh organisation, who declined to be named, also questioned how the Singh Sahibs will put the edict into practice.
“They should work with the local Sikh sanggat. That would be a better option,” he tells Asia Samachar.
In his response, Autar, who was also the former jathedar of Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia, said that as Sikhs move away from traditional neighbourhoods, they will need to set up gurdwaras in their new localities.
“Also as populations grow within established neighbourhoods, the sanggat will need additional Gurduaras to meet the demand for programmes.
“Instead of centralising decisions on this basic need of the community, the Akal Takht Sahib should consider this to be within the purview of local sanggat,” he says.
Balvinder expressed concern on the impact of the decision. “This ruling has obviously not been thought through and will further erode the respect Sikhs worldwide have for this institution of the 5 Singh Sahibaans,” he says.
[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: www.asiasamachar.com]
The fallen amongst us (Asia Samachar, 22 Aug 2015)
Nanak Shah Faqir: A Controversy of Epic Proportions – PART TWO (Asia Samachar, 5 June 2015)
Nanak Shah Faqir: An Epic of Sorts – PART ONE (Asia Samachar, 4 June 2015)
Moshi Moshi debacle and Sikh Reht Maryada (Asia Samachar, 12 Jan 2015)
5 lessons from Moshi-Moshi farce (Asia Samachar, 11 Jan 2015)
Parties admit to mistakes in Moshi-Moshi prayer fiasco (Asia Samachar, 5 Jan 2015)
Moshi-Moshi prayer fiasco (Asia Samachar, 5 Jan 2015)