By Asia Samachar Team | SINGAPORE |
A float of Gurdwara Janam Asthan traveled to all the gurdwaras and some major tourist attractions in Singapore.
This was one of the highlights as the Singapore Sikh community commemorated the 550th birth of Guru Nanak.
The actual Gurdwara Janam Asthan is in Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Guru Nanak. Once in unified Punjab, it is today in the Pakistan side of Punjab.
Singapore Sikhs have certainly taken up the 550th celebration with gusto. The float – which also passed through Chinatown, Little India and Orchard Road – was just one of the many events that had been drawn up.
In fact, collectively, Sikhs in Singapore had set out 19 events and initiatives for the commemoration, including community service by Punjabi school students and a very successful call-upon-you-to-perform-service programme called Sewa Pledge.
“In Singapore, our aim was not to just celebrate this important milestone among the Sikhs only but also involve Singaporeans of all races and religions,” former parliamentarian Inderjit Singh told a gathering at one of the gurdwaras yesterday (12 Nov 2019).
“Guru Nanak’s taught us may things and among the most important ones is the universality of mankind – everyone is equal and hence our logo for these celebrations – One Humanity. So in most of our events, we had many Singaporeans of all walks of life and of all backgrounds who joined us.”
Inderjit, who led a team to coordinate the year-long commemoration, also chairs the Coordinating Council of Sikh Institutions (Singapore).
The grand finale at Central Sikh Temple was also attended by Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat who said that he was impressed with the key role the Sikh community has played in promoting racial and religious harmony.
In particular, he noted the Young Sikh Association’s (YSA) unorthodox approach to an Instagram influencer’s controversial remarks in September.
They invited Sheena Phua to the Central Sikh Temple after she posted controversial remarks about two men wearing turbans being “huge obstructions”, introducing her to Sikh religion and culture, reports the Straits Times.
“Through this, you turned a potentially divisive incident into an opportunity to deepen mutual understanding and respect. Your thoughtful actions are commendable,” he was quoted by the newspaper.
Inderjit said the team started planning the celebrations since early 2018, with a soft launch at NaamRas 2018, a major kirtan-katha programme held on alternative years towards the year-end.
The events included Japji Sahib workshop, heritage exhibition and harmony walk. The Central Sikh Gurdwara Board (CSGB) launched the Visiting Professorship in Sikh Studies at National University of Singapore (NUS).
In December, the community will see the launch of a permanent Sikh exhibition at Asian Civilisation Museum, a first for the community where an exhibition will be permanently displayed at the museum.
“This is a huge milestone for the Sikhs,” Inderjit told Asia Samachar.
The Sewa Pledge is another exciting item in the list, taking into consideration how Guru Nanak has placed seva (selfless service) as one of the key underpinning concepts of his teachings.
The idea was to mobilise the community to pledge and do 550,000 service hours, which includes the community as well as national level, outside the Sikh community.
At the planning stage, he said some had voiced concern whether a small community of around 12,000 Sikhs could ever make the 550,000 hours of service, to be achieved by end-2019.
“Well today I am excited to announce that by Guru’s ji Grace, we have already crossed our goal and as this evening, the Sikh community has already contributed 555,000 of service hours and I am sure we will make it to 600,000 hours by the end of the year,” Inderjit said in his speech.
Singapore trio reach Nankana Sahib after 52-day Jeep ride (Asia Samachar, 11 Nov 2019)
Singapore Sikhs target 550,000 volunteer hours to mark Guru Nanak 550th birthday (Asia Samachar, 30 Nov 2018)