Guru Nanak Gurpurab in Medan, Jakarta

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| Indonesia | 21 Nov 2016 | Asia Samachar |
Guru Nanak gurpurab celebration at a gurdwara in Medan
Guru Nanak gurpurab celebration at a gurdwara in Medan

The Sikhs in Medan, the capital of North Sumatra, Indonesia, had joined millons of Sikhs to celebrate the birthday of Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh faith, last week.

Yayasan Missi Gurdwara Medan celebrated the event along with other gurdwaras in Indonesia, including Gurdwara Sahib Jakarta Selatan.

The Medan gurdwara is located in an area of the city known to locals as Kampung Keling, according to a news report.

Earlier, the same gurdwara’s Vaisakhi celebration in April 2016 was also attended by the Medan Deputy Mayor Akhyar Nasution and Partai NasDem Medan Dr Geeta chief Dr Geeta. [See Sinar Indonedia Baru (21 April 2016) in a news report entitled entitled ‘Yayasan Missi Gurdwara Medan Peringati Hari Lahir ke-317 Kaum Sikh’].

In a Jakarta Globe (August 27, 2010) article entitled ‘A Subcontinental Slice of Sumatra’, it said:

“For decades, Kampung Keling has been well known among residents as a settlement of ethnic Indian people.

“Although city administrators tried to change its official name to Kampung Madras — the word keling connotes dark skin and is offensive to some Indians — the change didn’t take and the enclave remains popularly known as Kampung Keling.

“Walking through the area, it is hard to miss the Punjabi people who live there. Punjabis are one of India’s main ethnic groups from a northern region straddling the border dividing India from Pakistan.

“The men are tall, dark and handsome, wearing traditional turbans and long beards, while the women have sharp features and often don bright saris.

“The culture and religious beliefs of the Indian residents who live there have added a dimension to Medan’s diversity, yet most Indonesians know little about them.

“Their striking appearance and unfamiliar customs of the enclave’s dwellers have added to their mystique among locals. But, with a little effort, it’s surprisingly easy to lift the veil on Punjabi culture in Medan,” the report added.

Guru Nanak gurpurab celebration at Gurdwara Sahib Jakarta Selatan - PHOTO / COURTESY OF BALWANT SINGH
Guru Nanak gurpurab celebration at Gurdwara Sahib Jakarta Selatan – PHOTO / COURTESY OF BALWANT SINGH

The same report added:

“The history of Punjabi existence in North Sumatra can be traced back to Amritsar and Jullundur in Northern India. Sikh-Punjabis first arrived in northern Sumatra in the 18th century through Aceh.

“Most of them came as traders who settled in the area and slowly dispersed throughout northern Sumatra.

“Another group of Punjabis arrived as part of a Gurkha army brought to Indonesia by the British colonial administration. The Gurkhas consisted of various Indian ethnic groups, including a Sikh regiment.

“Some of these troops were sent to Indonesia to supply arms to the Dutch who were struggling to suppress Indonesia’s demands for independence.

“When the Gurkha soldiers saw the way the Dutch were oppressing of the local Indonesian population, many switched sides, taking over Dutch ships and joining the locals in their fight for freedom. Many of these Gurkha soldiers eventually settled in Sumatra.”

 

[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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2 COMMENTS

  1. http://hariansib.co/view/Medan-Sekitarnya/110098/Yayasan-Missi-Gurdwara-Medan-Peringati-Hari-Lahir-ke-317-Kaum-Sikh.html

    SINAR INDONESIA BARU

    Yayasan Missi Gurdwara Medan Peringati Hari Lahir ke-317 Kaum Sikh
    Kamis, 21 April 2016 | 10:17:32

    Medan (SIB)- Keluarga besar kaum Sikh di Medan sekitarnya difasilitasi Yayasan Missi Gurdwara, Minggu (17/4) merayakan hari lahir ke-317 tahun Kaum Sikh di Medan. Acara yang dihadiri seratusan tokoh lintas agama itu pun dihadiri Wakil Wali Kota Medan Akhyar Nasution.

    Hari Lahir Kaum Sikh itu disebut Vaisakhi yang diperingati pada bulan kedua (Vaisakh) tahun Umat Sikh (Nanakshahi) dan dirayakan setiap tahun pada April tahun Masehi. Vaisakhi adalah Hari Bersejarah dalam ajaran Agama Sikh dan merupakan dasar persemakmuran dan demokrasi bagi seluruh umat Sikh di seluruh dunia.

    Sampai di lokasi, Wakil Wali Kota Medan didampingi Ketua Partai NasDem Medan Dr Geeta dan sejumlah tokoh lintas agama disambut secara adat oleh para tokoh Sikh. Akhyar Nasution mengatakan, Pemko Medan tetap mendukung seluruh kegiatan agama yang dimaksudkan untuk mempertebal iman warganya. “Apalagi Medan sedang membangun atas dasar bermartabat dengan moral agama,” tandas Wakil Wali Kota Medan.

    Ketua Dewan Pengurus Yayasan Missi Gurdwara Medan ‘Shree Guru Tegh Bahadur Gurdwara’ Hardial Singh Gill mengatakan pihaknya mengapresiasi perhatian tinggi Pemko Medan pada kaum Sikh. Selain merasa diperhatikan, Yayasan Missi Gurdwara Medan ‘Shree Guru Tegh Bahadur Gurdwara’ berterima kasih karena Pemko Medan memperlancar dan memfasilitasi IMB pendirian kuil Sikh di Polonia Medan.

    Dijelaskannya, Yayasan Missi Gurdwara Medan ‘Shree Guru Tegh Bahadur Gurdwara’ didirikan pada 1990. Selain sebagai wadah kaum Sikh juga untuk maksud sebagai meneguhkan iman kaum Sikh.

    Mengenai Vaisakhi — hari lahir Kaum Sikh (Khalsa Panth) — pertama kali diadakan pada tahun 1699. Vaisakhi, ujarnya, merupakan era baru bagi Umat Sikh dengan lahirnya Khalsa Panth. Di Medan, dalam komunitas Sikh, Vaisakhi pun dirayakan. Peringatan Vaisakhi di India dipusatkan di Keshgard (Anandpur Sahib) tempat di mana Guru Gobind Singh Ji melaksanakan Durbar (Kongregasi) pada April 1699 guna mengkonsolidasi kekuatan Kaum Sikh dengan mengabaikan segala macam kedudukan sosial dan perbedaan latar belakang dalam satu kesatuan yang utuh.

    Ketua Dewan Pembina Amarjit Singh Bhuller dengan anggota Dalbir Singh Kapoor, Kulwinderjit Singh Bhuller, Gurdial Singh Kemoh dan Sardul singh Muradpur. Ketua Dewan Pengurus Hardial Singh Gill, wakil Jagjit Singh Dhaliwal, dr Balbir Singh Brar dan Mahadip Singh Mundapendhe. Sekretarisdan wakil Davinder Singh Dhaliwal, Baldev Singh Sandhu, Gurdip Singh Sidhu dan Gurnam Singh Pandhori. Bendahara dan wakil Avtar Singh Sandhu, Hardial Kaur, Swaran Singh Gill dan Manjit Kaur Sandhu. (Rel/R9/h)

  2. http://jakartaglobe.id/archive/a-subcontinental-slice-of-sumatra/

    A Subcontinental Slice of Sumatrai

    August 27, 2010

    Report Putri Fitria

    If you have been to the North Sumatra capital of Medan, you may well have passed through an area of the city known to locals as Kampung Keling.

    For decades, Kampung Keling has been well known among residents as a settlement of ethnic Indian people.

    Although city administrators tried to change its official name to Kampung Madras — the word keling connotes dark skin and is offensive to some Indians — the change didn’t take and the enclave remains popularly known as Kampung Keling.

    Walking through the area, it is hard to miss the Punjabi people who live there. Punjabis are one of India’s main ethnic groups from a northern region straddling the border dividing India from Pakistan.

    The men are tall, dark and handsome, wearing traditional turbans and long beards, while the women have sharp features and often don bright saris.

    The culture and religious beliefs of the Indian residents who live there have added a dimension to Medan’s diversity, yet most Indonesians know little about them.

    Their striking appearance and unfamiliar customs of the enclave’s dwellers have added to their mystique among locals. But, with a little effort, it’s surprisingly easy to lift the veil on Punjabi culture in Medan.

    Once you do, you’ll find a warm and welcoming people who are not only committed to preserving their own culture and traditions, but also proud to be Indonesian.

    Some time ago, while shopping at a sports store in Kampung Keling, I met a friendly middle-aged Punjabi man, Giani Dalwinder Singh.

    Our conversation on that hot sunny day was very interesting as he enthusiastically told me about Punjabi-Medanese culture and history.

    He eventually ended up inviting me to a family wedding, a courtesy that I happily accepted.

    The wedding was to be held in a gurdwara — a local Sikh place of worship doubles as an important community center for members of the enclave.

    This particular building was raised in 1955 and was decorated with passages of wisdom from Guru Granth Sahib’s holy book of writings, some dating back to the 16th century.

    “The Punjabi identity is closely tied to the Sikh religion. A real Punjabi must adhere to the Sikh ways,” Giani explained.

    The history of Punjabi existence in North Sumatra can be traced back to Amritsar and Jullundur in Northern India. Sikh-Punjabis first arrived in northern Sumatra in the 18th century through Aceh.

    Most of them came as traders who settled in the area and slowly dispersed throughout northern Sumatra.

    Another group of Punjabis arrived as part of a Gurkha army brought to Indonesia by the British colonial administration. The Gurkhas consisted of various Indian ethnic groups, including a Sikh regiment.

    Some of these troops were sent to Indonesia to supply arms to the Dutch who were struggling to suppress Indonesia’s demands for independence.

    When the Gurkha soldiers saw the way the Dutch were oppressing of the local Indonesian population, many switched sides, taking over Dutch ships and joining the locals in their fight for freedom.

    Many of these Gurkha soldiers eventually settled in Sumatra.

    When I arrived at the wedding, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was quickly put at ease by a combination of tabla (Indian percussion instruments), and the teasing rhythmic accompaniment of Punjabi singing.

    It all blended into a symphony called the Punjabi call simran.

    Simran means to remember, and is a method of contemplative meditation using repetition, which Sikhs believe enables them to reach a kind of state of rapture.

    Believe me, it works. The beautiful, rhythmic music put me in a blissful trance-like state as I watched the elaborate nuptials unfold. The bride and groom sat in front of the book of Guru Granth Sahib while a priest read out loud from pages of scripture.

    Bound together by cloth, the couple then encircled the holy book four times, asking for a blessing at each pass.

    Bread and milk, Punjabi delicacies, were served after the wedding.

    “We are Punjabi people! Indian food will always survive, even though our grandparents have stayed here for a long time. Try how it tastes,” Pritam Singh Chabal, a Sikh official, urged with a warm smile.

    Pritam, a prominent figure among the Punjabi-Medanese, introduced me to people at my table, including several gurdwara custodians.

    I was struck by how open and receptive everyone was, a trait that I couldn’t help but realize flew in the face of their reclusive, mysterious reputation among many Indonesians.

    As I fell into conversation, I couldn’t help but notice that, along with fiercely protecting their unique culture, this exotic group of people was also thoroughly Indonesian.

    From their chatting, I noticed that they were speaking Bahasa Indonesia with a distinct dialect. The stories and talk told the tale of people deeply involved with their country.

    Today, there are approximately 1,000 Punjabis living throughout North Sumatra. Many are businesspeople and merchants, but a large segment of the group have become famous for their ability to breed cows for milking.

    Punjabi people in Sumatra continue to preserve their ways. When asked about their wishes in relation to their social status as non-indigenous people, one of the men at the wedding answered:

    “We wish there would be no discrimination against us in the future. We do come from north India, but we are Indonesian now.”

    end

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