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Celebrating oneness

As the Sikh community celebrates the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, NT BUZZ spoke to a few Sikhs in Goa to learn how they uphold his teachings and more

RAMANDEEP KAUR | NT BUZZ

The Sikh community in Goa and around the world are all set to celebrate Guru Nanak Jayanti ie the anniversary of the birth of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, with November 12 marking his 550th birth anniversary. In fact the anniversary celebrations commenced in Punjab on November 23, 2018 and have been in full swing in other parts of the world too.

Guru Nanak taught people the path of truth, righteousness and compassion, and also started the revolutionary idea of ‘langar’ (community kitchen in a gurudwara where a free meal is served to all visitors without distinction).

“‘Langar’ is the perfect way to show how people from various backgrounds (regardless of caste, economic status) can come together and have a meal without any discrimination. We should practice treating everyone as equal, and embrace the good teachings of all faiths,” says Margao-based Manjit Singh, who like other devotees will be visiting the gurudwara and offering prayers. His parents will take part in reading the teachings of Guru Nanak that are preserved in the holy texts of the Guru Granth Sahib. They will also offer ‘sewa’ (an act of selfless service).

Inspector General of Police, Goa, Jaspal Singh from Altinho meanwhile believes that Guru Nanak’s creation ‘Japji Sahib’ (prayer at the beginning of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book) takes him one step closer to the Almighty Creator. He says that Guru Nanak Dev ji propagated the message of oneness of humanity when he said: “Sabhe Sanjhiwal Sadain Koi Na dise Bahira jio” (All are equal stakeholders, No one is from Outside).  “His message is all the more relevant in the contemporary world which is strife torn and divided into caste, religion, regions and tribes,” says Jaspal.

His teachings, adds Jaspal, need to be spread far and wide to make this world free of all divisions and schisms. “Nanak emphasised on austere living and perhaps was the first socialist in the world as he stressed on ‘Kirat karo’, (work diligently), ‘Wand Shakna’ (sharing with others, helping those with less or those who are in need) and ‘Naam Japna’ (meditating on God’s name),” he says.

Jaspal further states that Guru Nanak was not in search of any abstract entity. “He emphasised that one can attain salvation by leading ordinary and austere family life. He said, ‘Sache Uppar Sab Ko, Uppar Sach Aachaar’ (Truth is higher but still higher is truthful living). He shunned anthropomorphism and remarked that God is one, is truthful, is fearless, does not envy anyone, is eternal and beyond all forms. Nanak advised humanity to avoid ritualism and just remember the creator by loving His creatures and creation,” says Jaspal.

Sarbjit Kaur Jaiswal from Mapusa says that Nanak’s teachings and values need to be passed on and thus, she inculcates these in her children as well. “Our new generation does not know anything about Sikh history. Hence, it is the responsibility of parents to share this knowledge with their children. Though a lot of information is available online, 70 per cent of that is wrong,” she says.

Rajinder Jeet Singh from Old Goa says that if he can imbibe even one of Nanak’s teaching, he will be happy. “Guru Nanak travelled to far off places to spread the holy message of ‘One God’ and thus, Sikhs who live in different corners of the world should also spread his teachings wherever they go,” he says.

Also, expressing his happiness about the much-awaited Kartarpur corridor opening which will now allow religious devotees to visit the Gurudwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, Pakistan (Guru Nanak spent the last 18 years of his life at Kartarpur Sahib and the gurudwara is built on the site where he settled), Rajinder says that the Sikh community has been waiting for this free passage for over 70 years. “I feel Guru Nanak has heard our prayers,” he says.

Celebrations in Goa

As part of the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak, two days before his birthday, Akhand Path (a forty-eight-hour non-stop reading of the Guru Granth Sahib) was held on November 10 at Gurudwara Shri Guru Singh Sabha, Betim. On November 11, a day prior to the birthday, a procession, referred to as Nagarkirtan was organised followed by ‘Kirtan’ and ‘langar’. On November 12, the programme will start at 12 p.m. and about 1000 to 2000 people are expected get together at the Betim Gurudwara. Among the attendees will be Chief Minister Pramod Sawant; health minister Vishwajt Rane; Calangute MLA Michael Lobo; Porvorim MLA Rohan Khaunte; member of parliament, Shripad Naik; and others.

President, Gurudwara Shri Guru Singh Sabha, Betim, Harvinder Singh informs that through these celebrations they want to spread Guru Nanak’s basic message of ‘equality’ to the Goan community.

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