Saturday, September 06, 2008

Enabling devotees at Dera Baba Nanak to catch a glimpse of Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara in Pakistan

In order to facilitate devotees at Dera Baba Nanak to catch a glimpse of the historical Kartarpur Sahib gurduwara in Pakistan located in Narowal district, the BSF has constructed a beautiful viewing area.
Located on the banks of the Ravi, the gurdwara is at the place where founder of the Sikh religion Guru Nanak Dev (1469 -1539) spent the last years of his life as a humble farmer. Interestingly, the gurdwara is just 4.5 km away from the viewing point and is clearly visible with the naked eye on clear days. Besides, the personnel at the border observation posts too are helpful and willingy to lend their binoculars to the devotees who cannot afford to visit the place.

Over the years, the demand to have a corridor to the shrine has gathered momentum. Even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reiterated his desire to have a corridor to the holy place so that devotees can visit it without any restrictions.

Talking to The Tribune, Baba Sukhdeep Singh Bedi, who claims to be a descendant of Guru Nanak Dev, said he had shouldered the responsibility so that sangat could offer prayers easily. Earlier, the devotees had to sit at the Dhussi Bandh and there were no facilities of any kind at that place. The conditions used to worsen in case of inclement weather, he pointed out.

He said the viewing area comprises a spacious cabin for visiting dignitaries and a roofed stand for general public. In addition to it, binoculars would be provided to the visitors so that they can have a closer look. Funding had never been a problem since devotees have offered their help regularly. All the material had been procured keeping the aesthetic beauty of place in mind, Bedi added. The BSF officials said they tried their best to help the devotees and had improved the road network in the area with the help of Border Area Development Funds. An official said when the BSF told the Pakistani Rangers that some trees block the view of the historic gurdwara from India’s side, the later pruned those trees to give a better vision.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

World's first Sikh University to come up at Fatehgarh Sahib in Punjab

Fatehgarh Sahib, Punjab, is a holy town for Sikhs, where two sons of the 10th Sikh Guru, Gobind Singh, attained martyrdom in the 18th century, is set to be home to the first Sikh university - the Sri Guru Granth Sahib World University.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal will Monday lay the first stone of the foundation monument - the 'Minar-e-Ikonkar' (Tower of God is one) - in this historic Sikh holy town, around 60 km from Chandigarh.

The university, spread over 84 acres given by the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), is coming up in an year which also marks the 300th anniversary of the 'Gurgaddi' (installation) of the Sikh holy book, Guru Granth Sahib, at 'Harmandar Sahib', the holiest of Sikh shrines, in Amritsar. Though founded with traditional values espoused by the Sikh religion, the university will deal with contemporary issues like the authentic interpretation of Sikhism in the modern context and idiom, role of Sikhism in the making of the 21st century society and the third millennium civilization, a state government spokesman said.

It also aims at addressing contemporary problems of Sikh identity vis-a-vis forces and processes of globalisation, facts about the Sikh diaspora and role of Sikhism and global interfaith dialogue, he added.

Sikhism is one of the youngest religions in the world, founded by the first Sikh guru, Nanak Dev, in the 15th century. The Sikhs, considered one of the most progressive communities, traditionally hail from the north Indian state of Punjab.
Besides the routine courses in arts, science and other fields, the university will focus on emerging technologies such as bio-technology, nano-technology, information technology and disciplines like ecology, human rights, feminism, empowerment of the down-trodden and other related spheres.

To give the university a 21st century outlook, it is looking at multi-national companies and other international universities for tie-ups. The spokesman said that arrangements will be made with foreign universities to enable scholars of Sri Guru Granth Sahib World University to be sent abroad as part of the course study.

Regional and overseas extension centres of the University will be established in India, North America, Europe, Southeast Asia and other countries wherever Sikhs and Sikhism have reached.

The university authorities are also planning to rope in the Sikh diaspora in the new venture.

The university also gives the students an option to undertake advanced studies in Sikhism - its philosophy, ethics, relation with other religions, history, music, linguistics, holy shrines and historical places associated with the religion, architecture, paintings, way of life, martial arts, diaspora and role of Sikhism in the 21st century.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Film Sat Sri Akal – a story of love and faith

Slated for release in the last week of September, Sat Sri Akal –a story of love and faith, is a cinematic contribution for the Tricentenary Gurta Gaddi celebrations.

Are cinema characters to serve as role models? Is eulogizing a Sikh achiever in the field of music and cinema tantamount to preparing Sikhs for a stint in Bollywood? Well, the times are changing and changing fast. Sometime back, we were yearning for a radio station at Darbar Sahib, now we are looking at setting up a regulatory authority to monitor the plethora of channels blaring religious untruths and falsehood.

Not very long ago, we wanted “good Sikh characters” in Bollywood and Hollywood. If a young Ishmeet Singh or Manpreet Singh chooses to have acting as a career and their visibility happens to be more, much to the chagrin of those who don’t like Sikhs in cinema, it is certainly not their fault. Neither Manmeet Singh nor Manpreet Singh goes around town exhorting young Sikhs to join films. Some of these young people are doing yeoman’s service besides their careers and that needs to be appreciated.

With the fully bearded and turbaned Manpreet Singh as the lead hero, Sat Sri Akal will foster renewed interest in the Sikh face. Whatever happens, Bollywood will have to sit up, listen and take notice. In the years to come, it will become more difficult for them to malign Sikhs as they have doing for all these years.
In this historic year of the Sikh calendar, Sat Sri Akal will be a much talked about movie, because it puts on celluloid the true strains of Sikhism, the ethos of faith in Guru Granth Sahib and the importance of tradition and values in modern day life. The protagonists, the Mata Tripta Ji Charitable Trust, Chandigarh have been working hard to ensure that the movie reflects the spirit of Sikhism. Shot on location at Darbar Sahib and Hazur Sahib, the producers say that the film “literally symbolizes and implies truth, divinity and cheer in true harmony.” Interestingly, it is based on a true story and though it has Sikh characters and a Punjabi background, it has a universal appeal.

The cast and crew is essentially Punjabi and the writer Arvinderjit Singh has spared no effort to encapsulate Punjabi culture, moral values and Sikh tenets. The music of the movie also has the Punjabi touch with a string of percussion instruments and singers like Jagjit Singh. Among the Shabads in the movie, there is Dithe Sabhe Thaav, sung by late Ishmeet Singh, much before he became the Voice of India.

With the marketing support of Frankfinn Entertainment co, the film is likely to go worldwide and with the Diaspora interest in Sikh characters gradually increasing, the film is set to attract much-deserved attention.

Sikh News by Sikh Tourism