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VAISAKHI: The Festival Of  Hope,  Equality And Fraternity

By Zile Singh

The dark and gloomy days of winter are over.  The Spring Season with bright sun and multi-coloured nature is at our door. The flowers are a sure hope of fruition.  Let us celebrate the season and be a proud part of a  religious  procession comprising mammoth crowd of people of different  religions, nationalities, colour and genders on the Main Street, Vancouver on April 13th.  The exotic food of India, especially Punjab awaits you there with mouth-watering and sensuous aromas.

History of Vaisakhi, in relation to the Sikhism, traces its origin when on March 30, 1699, Guru Gobind Singh, (philosopher, poet and  warrior ),  the tenth in succession understood the importance of  ‘Unity in Diversity.’ and called a conference  from all over India  at  Anandpur Sahib to instil courage and strength to fight  against the tyranny of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb.  The small Hindu and Sikh kingdoms had lost the physical as well as moral courage to face the strong army of the Mughals.    At the ceremony,   five individuals of different castes and  from different parts of India  offered themselves to be ready to give their lives  to fight against injustice. In today’s political parlance this congregation was the first endeavour for National Integration.  Those five volunteers ( who were baptized as Panj Piarias – five beloved- by the Guru were: Bhai Daya Ram (a shopkeeper from Lahore), Bhai Dharam Rai (a farmer from Meerut), Bhai Himmat  (a water- carrier from Jagannath Puri, Odisha), Bhai Muhkam  (a tailor from Dwarka – Gujarat), Bhai Sahib  (a barber from Bidar, Karnataka).   By this event, the foundation of Khalsa Panth ( Order of the Pure Ones) was laid.  From then onward all the followers of the Guru were given surname ‘Singh’ and ‘Kaur’ for male and female respectively with five symbols to wear ( kesh, kripan, kara, kangha and kachha).

Sikhism is the fifth largest religion in the world. It is a distinct monotheistic religion with its own unique divine scripture and beliefs. It was founded in the Punjab Province (Undivided India) in the 15th Century by Guru Nanak Dev, the First Guru of the Sikhs. The Ten Gurus in their succession are: Guru(s) Nanak, Angad, Amar Das, Ram Das, Arjan, Hargobind, Har Rai, Har Krishan, Teg Bahadur and Gobind Rai ( later Singh ). The Tenth Guru bestowed the Guruship forever to the Guru Granth Sahib ( the Holy Book containing the Teachings of all the Gurus.  The fifth Guru, Arjan Dev compiled the Granth (Adi Granth) in 1604 and installed it in Harminder Saheb, known as the Golden Temple, Amritsar.

The most important and guiding hymn in the Granth is ‘the mool mantra’  which reads, “ ek onkar satnam, karta purkh nirbhau nirvair akal murat ajoony saibhan gurparsad”. ( One Universal Creator God. The Name is Truth. Creative Being Personified. He has no Fear and  Hatred. An Image of the Eternity. Beyond Birth. Self-Existent. And He is realised by the  Guru’s Grace.)

The principal teachings of Sikhism are that there is only one God and that all human beings can have direct access to God with no need of rituals or priests. It denounced the caste system and taught that everyone is equal.  The other cardinal principles are: Kirat Karo, (work hard) Naam Japo (remember God, and Vand Chako ( charity – share your food and earnings)

After 321 years of  the founding of the Khalsa Panth, there are many feathers  in its cap.  Not only in India, but even on the global scene, the Sikhs have earned a special name for them. Canada is the foremost in this respect.  However, at a final note: “Honour and undue profit lie not in one sack.”

Wahe Guruji ka Khalsa; Wahe Guruji ki Fateh.

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