Gurdwara elections do not promote Sikhi tradition

At about £500 to £1,000 per coloured glossy page, I counted about 22 pages of advertisements in just one UK Panjabi weekly leading up to the election dates this month in Southall

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| Opinion | 7 Oct 2017 | Asia Samachar |

Havelock Road Gurdwara, Southallk

By Gurmukh Singh, UK

– Negative impact on next generations
– Elections result in a divided local Sikh community
– Massive waste of Sikh resources

The town of Southall in West London (UK) is a Punjabi town which boasts over 10 Gurdwaras. For the last 40 years or so I have lived within a mile of the two Sri Guru Singh Sabha (SGSS) Gurdwaras run by the same management. Both are within a few hundred yards of each other.

The golden-domed Gurdwara at Havelock Road was built at a massive cost of £17.5 million donated by the Sangat. The architectural design-winning building was completed and opened on Sunday, 30 March 2003 with much pomp and ceremony. The Malaysian Sikh band led the Nagar Kirtan and the whole environment of the town was filled with deep religious fervour.

We hoped that with Baba’s full Kirpa, as the Punjabi truck drivers would say, from such a magnificent Gurdwara building would flow Sikhi parchaar for next generations.

Like most Gurdwaras in the diaspora these days, the management committee of SGSS Southall, too, is elected.

I have watched over the years the intensive elections fought for the seva-sambhaal (care-taking with Sikhi humility!) of the Gurdwara. I am using SGSS Gurdwara, Southall only as an example to show how wasteful and divisive Gurdwara elections are.

At about £500 to £1,000 per coloured glossy page, I counted about 22 pages of advertisements in just one Panjabi weekly leading up to the election dates this month. There is another main Gurdwara election in East London later this month. The Southall Gurdwara elections are over and it is a “hung parliament” with no clear result. To the casual observer this would seem to be so much waste of community resources.

Nevertheless, in view of the large sums spent on advertisements and hundreds of large wall posters, Sikh TV slots etc, one assumes that Gurdwara business must be good business. In fact, most of the money is spent by local businessmen backing the “Sher” (lion), the “Baaj”.(hawk) and such symbols of the election-fighting groups. All sorts of past and present misdeeds of those in opposition are revealed, so that all stand exposed!

After the traumatic events of 1984, many Gurdwaras were taken over by frustrated youngish Sikhs. There is little doubt that some exploited the just anger and confusion after the ghalugharas of 1984, centred around Amritsar and Delhi, to their own advantage. Today, despite police visibility, we have comparatively more orderly Gurdwara management elections. Some regard fighting Gurdwara elections better than the system of drawing lots – the parchi system – which may not select the best qualified sevadars to run the larger Gurdwaras. Maybe, like democracy, the election system is the best of bad systems!

However, fighting Gurdwara elections does not accord with the Khalsa tradition nor with Gurmatt.

A Gurdwara is not a place for seeking chairs (kursis) but to serve Sikhi institutions, starting with the local Gurdwara and Sangat. For seva or service we are reminded by Sikhi tradition that we can serve by making available our physical effort (tann), serving with mind (mann) and by donating part of our earned income (dhann). We serve the great institution of the Gurdwara by donating part of what the Guru has bestowed on us – body, mind and wealth. If Gurdwara management is not inclusive involving all, then we are failing in our duty to make the Gurdwara the Guru’s Door for all to enter and learn through Sikhi seva – serving the community with humility.

A Gurdwara is not a business in which some have shares so that it is run like a business or a company. Yet, that is the way Sikh institutions are run today – not in an inclusive manner but exclusively by a few. The more influential and affluent local Sikhs seek to run a Gurdwara like a business after fighting and winning elections. Sometimes they even manage well. The question is if the Gurdwara then continues to be the fount of Sikhi seva for all including the next generations. Do young Sikh boys and girls flock to the Gurdwara to do seva or are they being driven away?

There should be good succession planning so that next generations can take over in due course.

After Gurdwara elections, one group takes over the management, while the opposing groups are left nursing their wounds in bitterness! In fact, in Guru’s Darbar, all of us are losers after each election. That is the result after a massive waste of money, emotional energy and mud-slinging when yesterday’s friends become today’s enemies.

That cannot be the Sikhi way.

Sikhs are doing well in most fields. Sadly, we are lagging behind in managing our Gurdwara resources. The Sikh Reht Maryada (SRM) guides a Sikh from personal life to Sangat life, centred on the Gurdwara. After all, Gurdwaras are the Guru’s training centres for Sikhi seva in humility, dedicated to Panth di chardhi kalaa and sarbatt da bhala.

We need to re-discover Sikhi procedures for selection of volunteer sevadars by the Sangat. Some of us have seen this happen in our young days in diaspora countries like Malaya and East Africa. True Sikhi spirit of seva-bhavna and the skills which are needed to run the diverse activities in Gurdwaras are not advertised but are recognised by the Sangat.

True sevadars do not have to fight elections to serve in Gurdwaras.

Gurmukh Singh, OBE, is a retired UK Principal Civil Servant. He can be contacted at sewauk2005@yahoo.co.uk

 

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6 COMMENTS

  1. “The Nishaan Sahib seems authentic to me. The romalay are beautiful and unlike mainstream gurdwaras where a huge song and dance takes place when Guru Ji’s smapti takes place, all these guys do is draw the curtain and for all intents and purposes Guru Ji is in repose. My father used to do the same. He used to do a quick smapti and Guru Ji either remained exactly where He had been all day except closed – or retired to the almari right behind the parkash altar!!!”

    Yes Daya Ji, if all the above remains, then perhaps we on way to recovery of practical sikhi, back to basics-as that did not complicate issues.I wish you well, and perhaps others should learn from this sewadars-the simplicity of Sikhs-beyond the air-condiioners, heaters, big hoo haa of smati!

    AS for the Bachiter Natak-the correct name-misprinted by printers and vested powers to carry out hanky panky change of names-to what ever- dos not change the mere fact-it is planted by mischevious elements and continues to be made an issue by mischeif makers-as we see since 1864,since the first wooden Gurduaras went up in Malaysia, there was never an issue of any ba shiter ntk parkash etc or Guru writing -but for the mischief makers since April 2016- in Malaysia, like a cancerous disease it hs not only plagued the community,but DIVIDED by the ego of a few, on behest of RSS funding.That mischief has woken up many, who have strated the questions that the mischief makers refused to answer.but that is developing politics introduced by someone without a sight and thought, to where it will lead to divide the community.Totally irresponsible characters.

    Thus, as result of insistence of untowards and baseless books,now some people question the ardas,”Sri Bhagouti JI sahai….vaar sri bhagouti ji ki patshahi 10, pirtham Bhagouti simer ke, ………” which after all is man created; and can be subject to change, by the Panth.

    But when we look at the ardas, it at once projects the Sikh Gurus, subservient to the “bhagouti”-another name of DURGA DEVI-as per the Mahan Kosh of Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha.

    However, with additional words in verses, where the bhagouti is used, it is claimed it refers to a kirpan and all sorts of others.The word on it’s own defines as name of Bhavani also known as durga!

    So,how did such word as durga found its way into the supplicatory prayer of Sikh gurus?The only way, we could say ‘yes’, is, if we accept that Guru Gobind Singh was a pujari of Devi durga!Was he really?For too long derawadh has misled people into accepting such fake interpretations!

    It is natural questions are asked.

    As for ba shiter,not one proponent and propogater in Malaysia,wants to indulge in factual based clear discussion of this, unless of course to spread misinformation, mislead and lie shilly shallily with loud swear words, name calling, which appears to be a speciality among these people, as the RSS funding is too attractive to turn down.This is a book that is non existent among the Gurbani led Sikhs, and those who see and hear the HUKAM of Guru Gobind Singh in 1708-agiya bhaii akal ki, tabhi chlaiyo panth, sabh sikhan ko hukam hai GURU maniyo GRANTH.

    May I, re clear the above—-Guru is ek vachan word-singular.

    GRANTH is ek vachan word-singular.

    There is no other potha,or so called granth.

    Guru Ji, did NOT at, Guruan or Granthan!

    So when a crook comes along to redefine Gurbani or Guru Hukam , he still remains a crook, that has not been arrested as yet!

    As for Chaupayi, part stolen from Rudrra and Markandiye puran -is something that could be planted into any religious texts of any religion and claimed!Again, I would not dwell into it, as the evidence is mounting that Sikhs have been taken upon a child merry go round in circles, now being sld chaupayii for a sum of money, otherwise apparently the gods and goddesss that are fighting in skies AMONG themselves WIIL NOT FIGHT FOR YOU!!!!!!!

    So, we shall not indulge into a non existent, but nefariously planted puranic literature, and an issue long dead but being resuscited periodically by dead wood, or past by sell by date ego driven dying wood!

    Better than the dragon dances, we should have more turban knocking art and competions,kirpans flying in air,and selling 101 paths on the cheap sales, while half baked self declared Sikhs, with no ability to speak Punjabi, shouting down the parcharaks of Guru Granth!

    Then we allow the Guru Granth to rest, while they wipe themselves out!

    This is what worries me from KHALI- stan and all those loud mouth Bhindarwala chelles….!!

    have a nice day jio!

  2. Reading the after-thoughts from readers sometimes makes for more interesting reading than the article itself. A lot of interesting information Gurcharan Kulim Ji! I assume it is Kulim Ji writing! I agree fully. A great many unATmaryadha practices now rampant – not only in so-called mainstream gurdwaras but Mahant gurdwaras as well.

    I know the topic started from expensive elections and ended up in unATmaryadha practices. O for the simple wooden gurdwaras of old and dedicated Granthi Sahibs in the old Malaya!

    Today we do not even agree on Dasam Granth; on whether chairs/benches should be allowed in langgar; on so called mixed Anand Karajs; to name just three hot issues. I have friends who have stopped doing first paudi of Ardaas because it is Dasam Granth bani; or even Chaupayi!!!

    Sorry Gurcharan, I shall keep going to this Thaat-Gurdwara until a time when I feel that official Maryadha is being overlooked. The Nishaan Sahib seems authentic to me. The romalay are beautiful and unlike mainstream gurdwaras where a huge song and dance takes place when Guru Ji’s smapti takes place, all these guys do is draw the curtain and for all intents and purposes Guru Ji is in repose. My father used to do the same. He used to do a quick smapti and Guru Ji either remained exactly where He had been all day except closed – or retired to the almari right behind the parkash altar!!! Now we have elaborate Wisram Qars, where Guru Ji is dumped on His supposed bed after dholkian and shannay bangings to loud Waheguru Chanting or a few loud shabads starting with “Jithay jaayegi Behay mera…’ etc. Reminds me of a Chinese procession with ‘dum dum shang’ and a dragon dance. Maybe I am just getting old and remembering the good old days…

  3. have to agree with Dya!But let us NOT forget the godmen Ram Raheem to was sole in charge and created a vast empire of delivery, exploitation, manipulation, intimidation, blackmail and political tappings!

    For these new taath, it may just be early days!Once established, we will see real ME or YOU or HIM in earnest, in time to come.

    They all begin with humble beginings and great humility-the main head quarters at Nanaksar along the way to Moga from Ludhiana, five miles fro Jagraon at Nanaksar kaleran is a good example!

    Absolutely NOTHING there currently is according to SRM.

    Give it a few years, once the grip is established,the SRM will disappears,the baba of nanaksar Nand Singh, who appears to be found of animal skins… will supass in status than the token show of Guru Granth sahib.His prolonged meditations, HIS VISIONS of meetings with the Gurus, when performing at hazoor sahib.he claims- he studied Guru Granth sahib, but DID NOT become a Sikh of Guru Granth sahib, but that of another godman, Wadhawa Singhand harnam Singh!

    Hs is certainly not the motive to serve Guru Granth but that of godmens, which is CLEARLY REJECTED IN GURBANI!He rejected all the austerities,simple mediattion, family life,or grehest lives Guru Ji’s taught and practised.

    Nand Singh preached an entirely another path, using the Guru Granth as the forefront, Sikhi back into mythological drama of sanatan belief-mythologicalm karamkand rituall based so called “sikhi”
    that the nirmalas and udasi traditions of ritual beliefs and ascesticism.

    They push for sewadars within the their taaths must be bahinggams or celibates who have no attachemnts to earthly abodes-yet they never tire making earthly cakes to celebrate the birthdays of these anti Guru so called babas-GURUDURA SERENDAH IS GOOD EXANMPLE WHO MAKES SUCH CAKES_they never tire of asking for earthly monetary donations, not to help needy families but build their little taths into multi million projects-that they use to mislead more gullible people.Not quite as successfully as Ram Raheem as yet!

    They impress that Guru Nanak is the direct AVTAR or incarnation of VISHNU.Gurbani rejects such nonsensical theories, and when confronted, the nanaksarias are lost for words!

    They specialise in extended kirtans especially on ful nights, as they preach it ore productful than any other night!Yet Gurbani says all days and nights are equal!

    THEY DO NOT ADHERE TO THE SRM AS DYA JI HAS SAID!THEIR FLAG OR “NISHAN SAHIB” IS NOT THE KHALSA NISHAN SAHIB, AS THEY CLAIM THEY ARE A POLITICAL-SO WHAT SRM IS DYA JI SPEAKING ABOUT?

    MERE SYMBOLIC ACTIONS TO SHOW THEY TREAT GURU GRANTH SAHIB WITH REVERNCE-WHEN THEY COVER IT WITH EXPESNISVE RULAMLLA AND FULL SIZED BEDS, OR LEAVE A PLATEFUL OF BHOJAN FOR THE NITE?

    tHEY BELIVE GURU GRANTH SHIB FEELS HOT, THEY INSTALL AIR CONDITIONING, THEY BELEIVE IT FEELS COLD, THEY INSTALL HEATERS!

    DOES ANYWHERE IN GURU GRANTH SAYS , THIS IS SO?

    I asked once, since you leave food for guru granth sahib to eat, surely given all the biological functions, it must need toilets to excrete bodily functions was met with a distasteful silence!Where are the tolets?SILENCE, and the bloke walked off.

    Such foolish acts is NOT sikhi, nor such peaceful places are Sikhs Gurduaras.

    Guru Granth sahb is a living light, a JOT , it is NOT living guru as claimed, and people are being misled by these backward snatani fellows, to deprive Sikhs awakening with teachings of Guru Granth sahib.

    Dya should make a visit to Nanaksar =and see the luxuries the babas dwell in, while they forbade their simple adherents to detach from worldly things!Height of hypocrisy of nanaksarias.

    How long will this new that stay aloof from its mother body, and practise so called alleged SRM, jio?

  4. This gone weekend, a Nanaksar Thaath type gurdwara was unofficially opened in a suburb of Melbourne (Cranbourne). For all intents and purposes it is a gurdwara with a Nishan Sahib. It is laid out in about ten acres. A Divan Hall which can seat over 700 sangat comfortably. Also celebrating Dhan Dhan Guru Ram Das Gurpurb, it held huge sangat for three days. Firstly, great facilities for children – plenty of space for kids to play. A playground already exists and more shall be built. A Punjabi school and Library will be established. Good Raagis and percharaks will come regularly. Every Friday is pizza night with special children’s programmes. The Baba Ji has installed a huge pizza machine in the kitchen to cater for this. The Maryadha within functions and ceremonies is all SRM. Now, the main advantage – NO ELECTIONS! One man makes decisions and all the rest are sewadars. No quarrels about anything. All gurdwara service are available and easily bookable. No discrimination except that the Baba Ji is in charge. So, the question arises. Why would not one looking for peace and quiet, prayer and Naam, come here, rather than a ‘mainstream’ gurdwara with all its ‘kelaish’, expensive elections, internal politics, and general discomfort? I did. It was a beautiful weekend and even though there was an ‘international’ lineup of percharaks and raagis, I was invited to do kirtan hajri (I am a local here) and appreciated. Whether we like it or not, the Babays are winning the war.

  5. Good sharing, by Kuldip Singh, ji which I would like to address as part of my view.

    In those days, to between today, a great change has taken place.In those days we did not have cars and planes but cycles and horse or bullock carts. In those days, no laws governed the given complexities of society.In those days the spoken law and assumed traits of good behaviour and sense was understood.

    But today times have changed.Thousands is poured into Gurduaras often blindly,Gurduaras themselves have rogue officials who entice and while acting anti gurmat, still invite the gullible Sikhs to hold meaningless and wasteful paths, some with air conditioning and others at cheaper rates without air conditioning!While they happily rake of millions from the sangats funds….
    Selling proxy paths, email paths, and many offering amrit as one takes matha….instead of correcting the erring sangat, the granthis and parbandhaks promote vassal of water that they claim is “amrit” when people tek matha…..where in Sikhi is written that there is amrit in such brahman in activities?

    They do NOT realise they are insulting the Gurus, the Guru Granth sahib, when they promoting fake amrit in gurduaras, one such is Melaka , where a ghagher full of water is sat by the Guru Granth sahib.These same people speak of Gurbani……which gurbani?Brahmani bani?

    If amrit was such easily available, then was Guru Gobind Singh ser feria to ask for five heads to offer khande bate da pahul?

    All part of the unquestioned era of brain washing that was pumped into our heads to belief and trust without logic.

    But our religion, or what we then perceived as religion was there….But nobody questioned….

    “Religion there is BUT one.The religion of TRUTH, if any one were to practice it with firmness”Says Guru Nanak.

    “Eko Dharm dhrihai sach koi”—and the illimitable God pervades His creation all , says He..”Belhari Kudrat vassia, tera ant na jae lakhia”

    The period that Veer Kuldeep speaks of had distorted Sikhi, but no one questioned it-Herd followed

    Distorted Sikh history, no one questioned about-Herd followed

    Inauthentic Sikh teachings-no one questioned-Herd followed.

    When Sant Singh Maskeen gave erroneous interpretation and created stories of ghost within gurbani-no one questioned-Herd followed.

    When babadom was being promoted above Gurbani, or manipulating Gurbani-no one questioned-HERD mentality followed

    Promoting Bikaar rituals , some call “sat rituals of Sikhi” -no one questioned

    Aligning with sants and godmen, babas and manipulating gurbani to promote ordinary men who were simply ragis as babas, some even have the audacity of promoting a multi sexually involved individual as Sant or Panth ratten!

    Kuldip Singh, we have lost the cause to Brahminism.

    The suraj Parkash is taught in sggsa and at one time in most Gurduaras like parrots.No body questioned-because herd mentality followed.

    Now, it is has come to light, that a nirmaal santokh Singh has conned the Sikhs with his garbage writings!THis book is full of anti Guru pages.No body questioned then!because then times were different!

    The books says Guru ji started taking bhnag at 16 years of age.He could NOT go a day without taking bhang!

    Mata Bhago lived naked in the camp of Guru Gobind Singh Ji!

    All these and far more in the Suraj parkash-parents who are still sending their children to such places need to re evaluate what their children are being taught and do they want their children to belief in such Brahmin fakestories orthe TRUTH and freedom displayed in Guru Granth sahib.

    Coming back to Sikh Gurduara commitees, they should consist of men and women that that find the find appeal of Sikhism attractive and according to the recognised maryada.

    Sikhism is a way of life to truth and freedom to enhance ones life according to the noble values as directed by Gurus, not practising brahman rituals, polygamous relationship of babadom indulge and fake practices of empty show of lights, water and fake stories of gods fighting themselves in Skies.If such gods fighting in skies among themselves as the ba shiter tells, then what good are these gods to help YOU ?

    The Committee should consist of men who are votaries who live up the teachinsg of the Guru Granth sahib only, and can be of service without fear or disticntions of clime and creed.

    Kuldip singh JI,sadly those times are no longer with us.

  6. Above article is food for thought. Many years ago, my wife’s Aunty had brought a video recording of a BBC interview with a British Sikh gentleman. He said the moment you have an election, a Team A and a Team B is formed. This was said just a few years before the infamous Team A vs Team B UMNO elections of 1987. He said this calling of an election is to satisfy British Law where is mandatory for all Societies (Associations) to have elections. My wife’s 88 year old father told me many years ago that Johore Bharu Gurdawara practised a system where the community’s elders will meet and decide on a President and he/she picks his/her Committee Members to run the Committee for the year. In Singapore he told me there is Gurdawara where the members are mostly busy businessmen and no one wants to be President as they have to spend quite a bit of time on the affairs of the Gurdawara so they have decided that the Sangat will ask one person to be President for one year only and never ask him again. Thank you. Kuldip Singh s/o Durbara, PJ.

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