Thursday, November 08, 2007

Guru Granth Sahib consecration celebrations at Hazur Sahib, Nanded from November 15.

Year-long celebrations to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the consecration of the Sikh religious book, Guru Granth Sahib and heavenly journey of Guru Gobind Singh will commence on November 15 at Nanded Sahib in Maharashtra, one of the five most sacred and important Sikh shrines. A few days before passing away on October 7, 1708, Guru Gobind Singh ended the practice of appointing an individual as guru and declared the holy book as the eternal guru of the Sikhs. The consecration of the Guru Granth Sahib as the permanent guru and source of spiritual inspiration and passing away of the last individual guru are the landmark events of the Sikh history and religion and that makes Nanded so important.

Head of the Nanded Gurudwara Board, told reporters here on Monday that over 40 lakh devotees from all over the world were expected to reach Nanded during the year in October next year to participate in the main celebrations at the Gurudwara, Takht Sachkhand Sri Hazur Abchalnagar Sahib one of the Panj Takhts, on the banks of the Godavari.

He said the celebrations would begin with observing November 15 as ‘Simran Diwas,’ on which people of all religions are called upon to pray or remember God according to their own religious practice to mark the Guru’s message of one god and welfare of the entire mankind. He said ‘Jagriti Yatra’ would commence from Nanded with a view to spreading the teachings of the Sikh gurus enshrined in the Guru Granth Sahib.

The yatra would go to a large number of places all over the country. It will have weapons of Guru Gobind Singh for darshan.

Hazur Sahib, Nanded, yatra with

Welsh race body backs Sikh girl who was barred from school over kada

Sarika Watkins-Singh, the Sikh teenager who has been excluded from her school in south Wales for refusing to remove the kada, a symbol of Sikhism, has been backed by the local race equality council.

Sarika, who decided to become a practising Sikh after a visit to Amritsar in 2005, has decided to mount a legal challenge against the school's decision that, she believes, amounted to infringing her human rights.

Sarika was sent home on Monday by the Aberdare Girls School, south Wales. According to the school, wearing the kada is against regulations because it is a piece of jewellery. The school is known for strictly enforcing rules. After the case hit the headlines, Sarika has found support from the Valleys Race Equality Council. Its director, Ron Davies, told the media, "We are supporting Sarika, and believe the school is acting unlawfully by refusing to let her wear the bangle.
"We have arranged for her to be represented by a solicitor and an application will be made to the High Court for a judicial review of the school's decision. We believe the school is acting in contravention both of the 1976 Race Relations Act and of human rights legislation.
"We also believe there is a need for the guidance on these issues to schools from the Welsh Assembly Government to be more explicit." According to advice given to the council by the the Equality and Human Rights Commission, "Legal precedence has previously been set which clearly recognises Sikhs as a racial group for the purpose of the Race Relations Act. Therefore, the school should consider carefully their actions in relation to this case.

"The wearing of a kada bangle is a significant expression of faith. Although some issues can be taken into consideration such as health and safety, the school would be expected to be proportionate in its response to the requirement to wear a kada bangle. "For example, the school could require the bangle to be covered or removed during PE. However, it would find it more difficult to justify this requirement where the student is sitting at her desk in the classroom."

In a legal precedent dating to 1983, the House of Lords had decided that a school had acted unlawfully by refusing to accept as a pupil a Sikh boy who wore a turban. The judgment held that Sikhs were a racial group within the terms of the Race Relations Act, and were capable of being discriminated against.

Sarika's mother, Sanita Watkins-Singh, told the Western Mail, "Sarika made her first visit to India in 2005, looking at her cultural background and her roots. I don't believe in putting pressure on children to follow a certain religion, but Sarika decided for herself that she wanted to be a practising Sikh.
"Her views have crystallised over the last six months, and she started wearing the kada. At first it didn't seem to be a problem, but then a PE teacher asked her to remove it. Later, after she refused to remove it in class, she was isolated from the rest of the girls. Then this week she was sent home."
Sarika said, "We went to quite a lot of places during my visit to India, including the Golden Temple in Amritsar, which was just amazing. I became very interested in Sikh history and was inspired to follow the religion." "The kada is a very important Sikh symbol and a constant reminder to me to do good, and that God is One. I am very disappointed that my school does not recognise my right to wear the kada. I did not like being put into isolation, which to me was like a prison. I feel my education was suffering.

"On Monday I was sent home for the day, and now I have been told I will be excluded for a fixed period. We are waiting for a letter saying how long that will be. It is very unfair that I am not being allowed to follow my religion, and I want to challenge the decision."

Jane Rosser, head teacher of Aberdare Girls' School, said, "We have a strict and clear code of conduct that has been in place for many years. A copy is given to all girls before they are even a pupil at the school and is also issued at the start of every new term in September.
"We use this established code of conduct to ensure equality between all pupils. The code clearly states the only two forms of jewellery that girls are allowed to wear in school is a wrist watch and one pair of plain metal stud earrings."

Visit Golden Temple, Amritsar with

Monday, November 05, 2007

Pak emergency hinders Sikh pilgrims' visit

The imposition of emergency in Pakistan has come as a damper for Sikh pilgrims planning to visit Pakistan for the 539th birth anniversary celebrations of first Sikh master Guru Nanak Dev. Intelligence officials here are of view that apart from a strict watch being kept on movement of Sikh devotees visiting neighbouring country, there is all likelihood of Pakistan government not issuing adequate visas to Sikhs in wake of the internal law and order situation there.

Nearly 3,000 Sikh devotees from India visit Pakistan on Guru Nanak's birth anniversary and 10,000 arrive from other countries. Sikh bodies have urged Pakistan president Pervez Musharaff not let the political turmoil in the country affect the religious occasion and to ensure security cover to visiting Sikh pilgrims.

Bhishan Singh, president of Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC), told TOI over phone from Lahore on Sunday “It is a religious function, and I think there won't be any kind of interruption in religious ceremonies.”

Not ruling out the possibility of Pakistan High Commission denying visas to several Sikh devotees owing to internal problems, Daljit Singh Bedi, additional secretary, SGPC, said it was the Pakistan government's duty to provide adequate security cover to pilgrims.

Plan Pakistan Gurudwara Tours through Sikhtourism.