| Tehran, Iran | 23 May 2016 | Asia Samachar |
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first stop on his two-day visit to Iran was a gurdwara in Tehran where he met a Sikh delegation.
“My first programme in Tehran was a visit to the Bhai Ganga Singh Sabha Gurudwara,” says a message at the @narendramodi Twitter account yesterday (22 May 2016).
Modi, the first Indian premier to visit Iran after 15 years, also shared the following message in the next tweet: “We will celebrate 350th anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh ji on a large scale so that his message reverberates widely among youth.”
It is not sure if the visit to the Iranian gurdwara ignited any sort of issue amongst the local Sikhs community, as it did during Modi’s visit to countries with a larger Sikh population, including the United State.
Modi’s maiden visit to Malaysia in November 2015 was accompanied by some debate within the local Sikh community which was divided whether to accept the invite to his reception, with many of the larger Sikh organisations deciding to decline the invite.
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Addressing a community gathering at the Bhai Ganga Singh Sabha Gurdwara in Tehran, the Tribune News Service (TNS) quoted Modi as saying: “We Indians have a specialty. We accept everyone and assimilate with everyone…The new generation should know about the sacrifices of the great (Sikh) Gurus and about the Guru Granth Sahib.”
The gurdwara was founded in 1941 by Bhai Ganga Singh Sabha. The members of the Sikh community, some 800 families who live in the region, largely comprise traders and are Iranian citizens. Most moved to Tehran in the early 20th century from Punjab, the report added.
Iran has a thriving Sikh community which has never faced any kind of discrimination and has continued to practice their religion with freedom in the country, according to the same TNS report.
The gurdwara in Tehran’s Mesjed Henidyah was founded by Bhai Ganga Singh Sabha in 1941. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj also visited the gurdwara on her recent visit to Tehran, it added.
In 2012, then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had travelled to Tehran to attend the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit. Even though he was unable to visit the gurdwara owing to his hectic schedule, his wife Gursharan Kaur had paid her respects there.
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