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Religious Places Such As Gurdwaras Are A Beacon Of Hope And Optimism

By Balwant Sanghera

Religion is supposed to give one peace of mind. Almost every religion promotes mutual respect and harmony. Unfortunately, in some countries and some regions of the world religion has become a source of conflict. In that context, Canada has been a shining example of intercultural -interreligious peace, harmony and inclusion. It is a beacon of hope and optimism for others. It is no wonder that more than 200 communities from around the globe are proud to call Canada their home. Richmond is a microcosm of this reality. Its Number 5 Road, home to more than 20 places of worship of different denominations, also known as the Highway to Heaven has been playing an important role in this regard.

The Highway to Heaven is a very popular place for visitor from all over British Columbia and Canada. Also, our local media has been veryhelpful in its coverage of the activities along this very special stretch of #5 Road in this community. As chairperson of the Highway to Heaven Association, I am very pleased with the role that our places of worship are playing in promoting intercultural and interreligious harmony.

India Cultural Centre of Canada Gurdwara Nanak Niwas (8600, #5 Road in Richmond,BC) has been playing a key role in bringing to-gether people of different faiths in order to promote intercultural and interreligious harmony.It is very encouraging to see a lot of educators and community leaders bringing students, youth and adults alike to ourvarious places of worship including Gurdwara Nanak Niwas on a fairly regular basis. This helps the young minds broaden their horizons. Such exposure to different faiths and cultures is bound to create more awareness in them and help them become more well- rounded, broad-minded and productive members of Canadian society.

Usually, these visits start with Gurdwara Nanak Niwas. Here,the visitors want to learn about Sikhism and the Indo-Canadian community in Canada. I consider it as a privilege to share my knowledge with these students and adults who are keen to learn about various religions and communities. It is  an honour for me to act as their guideand share with them the basic principles of Sikhism, the message of universal brotherhood, human rights and equality as preached by our Gurus starting with Guru Nanak Dev ji.These students and adults are very keen to learn not only about Sikhism but also about the contribution of our community to the development of Canada.

On Tuesday,, May 1, 80 students and their teachers from Lynden Christian High School, Lynden, Washington (U.S.A.)visited Gurdwara Nanak Niwas. On behalf of the Gurdwara Management Committee, it was an honour for me to facilitate this visit. The participants were very impressed with the warm welcome and learning about Sikhism and the Indo-Canadian community inCanada. Soon after their departure another group of 20 students and adults from Youth With AMission, Vancouver, joined us with the same purpose. All of them, like the previous group from Lynden were very impressed with the hospitality and learning experience at the Gurdwara.  Before leaving for other places of worship along our Highway to Heaven,they enjoyed a delicious vegetarian langar (lunch) at the Gurdwara. Leaders of both groups thanked the Gurdwara management for a very warm welcome.

Gurdwara Nanak Niwas is one of the most popular places for visitors on Richmond’s Highway to Heaven. There are more than 20 places of worship of different religious denominations who serve the visitors with a great deal of enthusiasm… These are excellent examples of inter-cultural and inter-religious harmony.  Such initiatives gain added significance as we are celebrating Canada’s multiculturalism and diversity.

Balwant Sanghera is a retired School Psychologist and Community Activist. He is a member of the Gurdwara Nanak Niwas Management Committee.

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