By Asia Samachar Team | MALAYSIA |
Malaysian gurdwaras will skip the congregational prayers and all gurdwara-based programmes for Vaisakhi which falls on 14 April, the last day within the extended partial lockdown for Covid-19.
This will be the first time that the Vaisakhi celebration, which usually attracts a strong turnout at most gurdwaras, for many decades.
Malaysian Gudwaras Council (MGC) is advising all gurdwara to cancel Vaisakhi celebrations on 14 April 2020 in compliance with the movement control order (MCO), noting that there was a possibility the order may be extended.
“This is a difﬁcult decision and MGC hopes that all the Sanggat would understand the rationale behind it,” said MGC president Jagir Singh in a letter (see full letter below) to be sent out to all Malaysian gurdwaras.
Vaisakhi, which marks the establishment of the Khalsa brotherhood in 1699, is one of the largest functions for gurdwaras globally.
When contacted, Jagir told Asia Samachar it was a unanimous decision by the council’s executive committee.
Across the causeway, Singapore gurdwaras have decided to cancel all congregational prayers and gatherings from 27 March to 30 April, which would mean that the Vaiskahi celebrations will not be taking place at gurdwaras. See here.
In an earlier decision, Singapore Khalsa Association (SKA) had announced the cancellation of the Vesakhi Mela 2020, a signature event of the SKA and one of Singapore’s largest Vaisakhi events. It was planned for April 11-12. See here.
When contacted, Khalsa Diwan Malaysia (KDM) and Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia (SNSM), two of the larger Sikh organisations in Malaysia, welcome the decision.
“Under the present circumstances, it’s good advise. We are supportive of the move,” said KDM president Santokh Singh.
KDM’s Punjabi education wing has suspended the running of 43 Punjabi Education Centres (PECs), the weekend Punjabi classes mostly operating gurdwaras nationwide, in line with closure of schools under the MCO.
On its part, SNSM jathedar Dr Jasbir Singh said it was devising Sikhi-related activities that families can undertake in their homes for Vaisakhi and beyond. “They are being finalised as we speak,” he said.
Kuching gurdwara, home to the largest Sikh population in Sarawak in East Malaysia, will adopt the MGC advisory.
“We are not out of the woods yet (with Covid-19). The safety of the Sanggat and the larger population comes first. We may organise a programme at a later date, depending on the situation,” said Sarawak Sikh Temple Association (SSTA) president president Dr Kalwinder Singh Khaira.
Malaysian Gurdwaras and other places of worship were ordered close from 18 March when Malaysia initially imposed the MCO to arrest the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Also ordered close were all government and private premises, except providers of essential services such as utilities, telecommunications, transport, banking, health, pharmacies, ports, airports, cleaning and food supplies.
THE FULL LETTER FROM MGC DATED 27 MARCH 2020
SUBJECT: Coronavirus – Advisory 6 – Vaisakhi Celebration (14/04/2020)
1. The YAB Prime Minister has announced that the MOVEMENT CONTROL ORDER (MCO) which was originally for period from 18 March 2020 to 31 March 2020 has been extended to 14 April 2020. Vide Section 11(4) of Act 342 read together with Section 24(a) of the same Act, it is an offence to contravene any of the provisions of the MCO.
2. Vaisakhi that is the Sajna Divas of the Khalsa falls on 14 April 2020 which date is within the MCO. There is also a possibility for the MCO to be extended further if the situation does not improve enough.
3. The Malaysian Gurdwaras Council (MGC) after due deliberations and taking all above factors into consideration including the need to ensure the safety of the Sanggat has decided on the following:
(i) The Vaisakhi celebrations on 14 April 2020 should be cancelled in compliance with the MCO. This is a difﬁcult decision and MGC hopes that all the Sanggat would understand the rationale behind it.
(ii) The Gurdwaras Committees at their absolute discretion may hold the Vaisakhi programme at a later date when conditions permit. This will be especially so where the Gurdwaras have kept the Sadharan Paath in commemoration of Vaisakhi day.
(iii) At all times, there should be strict compliance with MCO. All social distancing rules should be observed.
(iv) All Sikhs are encouraged to recite Gurbani Paath in their own homes and then to do Ardas for the well-being and health of the whole world community (Sarbat Da Bhalla).
(v) For the duration of the MCO from 18 March 2020 to 14 April 2020, the following amongst others, to be complied with:
a) Places of worship to remain closed.
b) No gatherings allowed.
c) Gurdwaras may allow private worship and essential religious rites subject to the group size being not more than 10 persons.
d) Social distancing to be observed, that is persons remain more than 1 metre away from the next person.
6) Absolute hygiene and cleanliness to be observed all the time.
Jagir Singh, President, Malaysian Gurdwaras Council
Singapore gurdwaras cancel all programmes (Asia Samachar, 26 March 2020)
Gurdwaras to shutdown under Malaysia’s partial lockdown (Asia Samachar, 16 March 2020)