By Dya Singh | AUSTRALIA | OPINION |
I am mystified!
I am normally aware of Sikh historical ‘maneuvering’ for the last 60 odd years of my life simply because I do read a fair amount about the changes in Sikh thought and I belong to a family of a parcharak (Giani Harchand Singh ‘Bassian’) and family members who are all involved in Sikhi furtherance in one way or another including thinker and writer S. Gurmukh Singh OBE who writes a regular column in UK-based Punjab Times.
I remember that not long ago we celebrated Vesakhi on 13 April. We now do so on 14 April. We never used to sing ‘Agea bheyi akal ki..’ etc. after the Ardaas in gurdwaras. Now we do. We had no qualms about singing ‘Deh Shiva’ before. Now brothers have become enemies on this issue!
There was never an issue whether the Dasam Granth was ‘the’ Guru. (It is NOT.) Today we have pitched battles and beard pullings and violence on the issue.
I remember the maneuvering of the rules of the Anand Karaj, the Sikh sacred wedding ceremony for who could go through this ceremony. In my earliest consciousness, both bride and groom ‘had’ to be ‘amritdhari’ to undergo this ceremony, or at least have gone through the ‘amrit sanchar’ ceremony.
Then, in the 1960’s and 1970’s, it was decided that the couple were asked before the ceremony if they had undergone ‘amrit sanchar’ and if not, to do so at the first opportunity. In the 1980’s it was decided that the couple should not be embarrassed by asking such an awkward question in sangat but advised to undergo the amrit sanchar.
In the 1990’s the question was completely erased. Today, it is a free for all, except for ‘militant’ action by some because generally gurdwaras are only concerned with income rather than the rules and maryada.
Another example is that before the 1980’s there was no accepted understanding that Baba Budha was the first ‘Granthi Sahib’ of the Aadh Granth. From then he was annointed as the ‘First Granthi Sahib’ paving the way for our now ‘priestly class’ – the go-betweens between us Sikhs and our Guru – Guru Granth Sahib Ji. We get this ‘go-between’ to do our sehaj paaths, akhand paaths, hukmnamas and ardaaas for any occasion and any other ‘religious’ ceremonies for cash. They became our formal ‘pundits’.
(I say the above even though my own father was virtually forced into the position of a ‘Granthi Sahib’, even though he arrived in the old Malaya as a government-paid Punjabi teacher and parcharak (stationed in Raub). He was always careful to tell the sangat that he was merely the ‘vizier’, the caretaker of the Granth and not a go-between, between the sangat and the Guru. He taught devotees how to do paath. He brought Sikhs closer to the Guru Ji. He taught Punjabi and he was a great parcharak and kirtenia.)
Now, coming to Guru Nanak Gurpurab. I am, this year, hearing that it is not a Gurpurab any more, but Guru Nanak Parkash Purab – the day Baba Ji supposedly received his enlightenment. This is new to me! There is a longish current article around by Dr. Harbans Lal espousing this with various quotes etc. from past supposed Sikh historians and so on.
I have some reflections on this ‘development’ but I can see positives. I have long known that historically it is more likely that Guru Nanak Ji was born on or around Vesakhi and the date of his birth was ‘moved’ to November to coincide with some Hindu festivals, to shepherd Sikhs away from the Hindu festivals towards celebrating Guru Ji’s ‘Gurpurab’. Now, with this development of Guru Nanak Parkash Devas, perhaps we can spread the message of the two fold significance of Vesakhi – that of Khalsa Day and also Guru Nanak Ji’s birthday!
It is just like the controversy of the laying of the foundation stone of Darbar Sahib supposedly by Sayeen Mian Mir. This, it now appears, is more a sentiment of the Sikh quom espousing the greatness of Guru Arjan Dev Ji of humbly and graciously asking his great friend Pir Mian Mir to lay the foundation stone of Darbar Sahib and further enhancing the ‘sarbat dha bhalla’ sentiment of the Sikhs. Noble move and one we quote at inter-faith meetings to great effect. (There is no visible sign of any foundation stone of Darbar Sahib!)
So now, Khalsa Ji, let it be known that Guru Nanak Sahib’s actual birth date is Vesakhi and his ‘Parkash Dehada’ is generally in November!!!
I also applaud Malaysian Gurdwara Council (MGC) on celebrating Khalsa Day next year and Guru Nanak Sahib Ji’s 550th. Grand Gurpurab on 20 April 2019 in Kuala Lumpur after prolonged celebration which have already started in many gurdwaras in Malaysia. NOT A BAD IDEA GLOBALLY!
Malaysian-born Dya Singh, who now resides in Australia, is an accomplished musician and a roving Sikh preacher. The Dya Singh World Music Group performs full scale concerts on ‘music for the soul’ based on North Indian classical and semi-classical styles of music with hymns from mainly the Sikh, Hindu and Sufi ‘faiths’. He is also the author of SIKH-ING: Success and Happiness. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
* This is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.
Is Guru Nanak’s Parkash Day Different from Guru Nanak’s Birth Day? Yes, It Is. (Asia Samachar, 22 Nov 2018)
40 Malaysian gurdwaras kick-start year-long Nanak 550 celebration (Asia Samachar, 23 Nov 2018)
Dya Singh comes across original, practical in his latest work (Asia Samachar, 12 Aug 2017)