| Ipoh, Malaysia | 23 July 2017 | Asia Samachar |
Gurdwaras must adopt changes to be more inclusive and appealing to the sanggat (congregation), especially the youth. At the same time, there is a dire need for marriage counselling bureau to manage Sikh divorce issues.
These were among the issues touched at a half-day seminar in Ipoh, Perak, today (23 July 2017) that attracted some 200 participants.
It is incumbent on gurdwara management committees, also referred to as gurdwara parbandaks, to not only discharge their duties in managing gurdwaras as mere religious institution but also its social function.
“At the same time, gurdwaras must actively participate in activities of key organisations like the Malaysian Gurdwaras Council (MGC) so that our collective voice is heard by people who walk in the corridors of power,” Darshan Singh, one of key organiser of the seminar, told Asia Samachar.
He added that the seminar also heard that gurdwara leadership must ensure that no propagation of deviant teachings in gurdwaras and that all parcharaks (Sikh preachers) and granthis must be advised on this matter.
These were among the issues discussed at the seminar entitled ‘Managing Issues and Challenges of the Malaysia Sikh Community’ organised by Pertubuhan Pembangunan Insan Sikh Perak (PPIS) in collaboration with the Malaysian Gurudwaras Council (MGC), Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) and Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM). Asia Samachar is the seminar media partner.
Dr Daleleer Kaur Randawar from Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) law faculty spoke on ‘Empowering Sikh Woman: Rights Under the Law’ while Dr Sarjit Singh Gill from University Putra Malaysia (UPM) spoke on ‘Empowering Sikh Youth: The Role of Gurdwaras’.
Darshan, an MGC executive council member representing Perak, spoke on ‘Bridging the Sectarian Divide’.
In an immediate response to the seminar, Penang-based law lecturer Dr Shamsher Singh Thind said he agreed with Darshan’s point that unity was the paramount consideration.
“While Sikhs can have an intellectual discussion on sensitive topics like Dasam Granth, they should not let this break their spirit of brotherhood,” he said in a text message to Asia Samachar.
Dasam Granth, a granth previously known as Bachitar Natak, has emerged in the recent months as a divisive issue within the Malaysian Sikhs, after provoking similarly divisive debates and discussions in countries like Canada and the UK earlier.
On another matter, Shamsher said: “I was given a chance to ask a question on the powers of MGC in dealing with those Gurdwaras registered with MGC but not with ROS [Registrar of Societies] whose committee members abused their powers and there is nothing the sangat can do about it due to rigged electoral process.
“Jagir Singh did answer my question but it was sad to know that MGC does not have the power to exercise any control over those Gurdwaras. MGC must, in my opinion, strip those errant Gurdwaras of their membership!” he said.
Jagir is the MGC president and a key official in the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCCHST).
23 July: Ipoh seminar on managing issues, challenges of Sikh community (Asia Samachar, 14 June 2017)
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