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S Gurdev Singh Honoured

October 12, 2008. All India Conference of Intellectuals conferred Punjab Rattan award upon Sardar Gurdev Singh, Patron, Institute of Sikh Studies, Chandigarh in recognition of his outstanding talents, superb achievements and distinguished services to the society at large. Dr A R Kidwai, Governor, Haryana, presided over the award giving function.

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Seminar, Sikh Educational Society

November 22, 2008. The Sikh Educational Society which is running eight colleges/schools in Punjab and Chandigarh organised its annual seminar in Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra Memorial Lecture Series at which Baba Balbir Singh Seechewal of the Bein-cleaning fame and Punjab Minister Hira Singh Gibrian were the chief guests. Subject of the keynote address presented by the prominent scholar Dr Baklar Singh was ;pd-r[o{ dk wkBt gqz;r. The SES honoured Dr Gurbakhsh Singh, eminent scholar, Prof Harinder Singh Mehboob, the wel-known poet, and Baba Balbir Singh with a Siropa and a token amount of Rs 51,000/- each.

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Vanjara Trust Update

November 23, 2008. In its General Body meeting held at Chandigarh, the trust for Welfare of Vanjara and Other Weaker Sections, enrolled Dr Birendra Kaur, a member of the Institute of Sikh Studies, as a new Trustee. Dr Gurcharan Singh Kalkat, Sardar Sardul Singh Pruthi and Sardar Gurdev Singh, three other IOSS members, are already trustees of this welfare/charitable trust. Sardar Gurdev Singh was elected President of the trust in the vacancy occuring after the sad demise of Dr Kharak Singh who was President of this Trust till he breathed his last on August 6, 2008.

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A Repository of Rare Manuscripts

Aurangabad, November 4. The historic gurdwara, which had been built here in the memory of Bhai Daya Singh, one of the Panj Piaras, is a repository of rare Sikh manuscripts dating back more than 300 years. Some manuscripts have beautiful ornamental calligraphy and outlining in gold and blue.

One of the rare handwritten manuscripts is “Zafarnamah” (epistle of victory) written in Persian. It was sent by 10th Sikh master Guru Gobind Singh to Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in 1705. Its manuscript seems to be written by a Muslim devotee, who has also written the date of its writing on it.

In the “Zafarnamah”, Guru Gobind Singh reminds Aurangzeb how he and his henchmen had broken their oaths sworn upon the Koran. SGPC president Avtar Singh, who visited Aurangabad to attend a function to commemorate the tercentenary of Gurta Gaddi Diwas of Guru Granth Sahib, was so delighted to see the commitment of the gurdwara management to preserve those manuscripts that he announced a grant of Rs 1 lakh to the gurdwara.

Wrapped in beautiful cloth, the gurdwara has two more handwritten Adi Granths and other religious pictorial graphics. Some manuscripts have been written in golden ink. As many as 6,000 words of one of the manuscripts are written in golden ink.

Although the five beloved enjoyed equal status as the Guru’s confidants, Bhai Daya Singh had always been regarded as the first among equals. He was Guru Gobind Singh’s emissary sent from Dina village in Punjab to deliver the “Zafarnamah” to Aurangzeb.

Another important letter preserved here is of Bhai Chanda Singh. It is written in Persian script and urges the Sikhs to join the kar sewa of Takht Hazur Sahib, which was started by Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

However, letters on some of the ancient manuscripts have become discoloured.

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Brit school Told to Pay £76,000

London, November 17. A school in South Wales has been asked by a court to pay £76,000 as legal costs to a Sikh girl who was banned from wearing a religious bracelet. According to The Sun, Sarika Watkins-Singh (15) won a high court case after being suspended over the silver Kara bangle, which the school said broke its jewellery rules.

Yesterday local Labour MP Ann Clwyd blasted Governors for “wasting taxpayers’ money”. She said: “I told them they’d lose.” In the wake of this verdict, schools in Britain will struggle to enforce rules about uniform, a teachers’ union has warned.

Clarissa Williams, president of the NAHT teaching union, said: “We’re expected to have school uniform policies, this puts schools in an invidious position. The main issue with jewellery is the health and safety aspect - it’s not about discrimination.” Justice Silber ruled last year that Sarika had suffered indirect discrimination from Aberdare Girls School.

Legal experts then warned that Justice Silber’s ruling could pave the way for similar cases involving religious apparel.

Sarika was isolated from her classmates for two months and even accompanied to the toilet by a member of staff, before finally being excluded for persistently breaking the “no jewellery” rule. In court, Sarika said wearing the bangle - known as the Kara - was as important to her as it was to the England cricketer Monty Panesar. Finding the school guilty of discrimination under race relations and equality laws, the judge said Sarika, from Cwmbach, near Aberdare, could go back to school wearing the bangle. — ANI

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Justice Haider Discovers 80 more Shlokas of Baba Farid

Amritsar, November 24. Pakistan’s former law minister Justice Syed Afzal Haider, a judge of the Federal Shariat Court, Islamabad, has discovered about 80 shlokas (hymns) of Baba Farid, the first Punjabi poet.

The shlokas, discovered from different primary sources and folklore are in addition to his (Baba Faird’s) hymns enshrined in Guru Granth Sahib.

Justice Haider’s wife Begum Silvi Khurshid Faridi is a direct descendent of Baba Farid.
Justice Haider said here today that the book, “Kook Farida Kook” in Gurmukhi script, containing the new shlokas of Baba Farid was being published in Lahore and would be released in India and Pakistan soon. The path-breaking research on Baba Farid would also be transliterated into Roman, Urdu, Persian and Shahmukhi scripts.

Earlier, late Prof Pritam Singh, a recipient of President and Bharatiya Sahit Academy awards, had established that Punjabi language is more than 700 years old. Prof Pritam Singh dedicated his research on Baba Farid to Justice Haider and his wife, Begum Silvi Khurshid. His (Prof Pritam Singh’s) research, “Search of the original Baba Farid of Guru Granth Sahib”, had also challenged the research by European and Indian scholars who believed that the hymns of Baba Farid were actually authored by Sheikh Brahm (Ibrahim). It was Farid, the second, whom Guru Nanak Dev met on two occasions.

Justice Haider also corroborated the research of Prof Pritam Singh. To a question, Justice Haider said the new shalokas of Baba Farid would compel Punjabi scholars to start afresh research on Baba Farid.

About his earlier works on Sikh literature, Justice Haider said it was due to the blessings of Sikh Gurus and Baba Farid that he occupied top positions in Pakistan.

“When I wrote a book on Guru Nanak, I was picked up as law minister,” he said. He was also excited that the chaddar ( rumala) brought from the samadh of Baba Farid by him was accepted by the head granthi of the Golden Temple. It was for the first time that the SGPC authorities, in a goodwill gesture, placed the chaddar on Guru Granth Sahib.

Baba Farid was born on the first day of the month of Ramzan in 1173 in Kothiwal city near Dipalpur in Punjab. Now it is called Pak Pattan. The ancient name has been recorded as Ajodhan. The city existed during Alexander’s invasion in 326 BC. (Courtesy : The Tribune, November 25, 2008)

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Christian Leaders to Talk to Sarkozy

Pathankot, October 20. Christian leaders have decided to take up the issue of the ban imposed on wearing of turban in schools with the Sarkozy government.

A resolution to support the demand of the Sikh community for allowing Sikh students to wear turban in schools in France would be passed during the 13th ordinary synod of the Church of North India (CNI) being held here.

Sushma Ramswami, communication secretary, CNI, told The Tribune that a decision to this effect was taken by the synod after a section of leaders of the CNI and other Christian bodies visited the Golden Temple in Amritsar yesterday and interacted with Sikh leaders there.

The Christian leaders who visited the Golden Temple included Roy Lowes, Moderator, West Midlands Synod of the United Reformed Churches in the UK, and Marianne Karsgaard, member, World Mission Council Church, Scotland.

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Letters to Editor

Gurta-gaddi Diwas

Dear Sir,

There have been long drawn celebrations all over the world on the solemn occasion of ‘Gur-ta-Gaddi’. Akhand Paaths, Nagar Kirtans and Kirtan Durbars have appropriately been part of the celebrations. Sri Guru Granth Sahib is ‘Alma Mater’ for all Sikhs, and for many more other than Sikhs. The celebrations at this large scale are in fitness of the occasion. One of the biggest congregations of Sikhs has just concluded at “Hazoor Sahib” (Nanded), where the actual ceremony of Gurta-Guddi took place 300 years ago.

Notwithstanding these large scale celebrations, we could have done better. We had arranged to highlight the universality and, basic tenets of Sikh religion, as given in Sri Guru Granth Sahib, to others (other than Sikhs) all over the world. Ordinarily others (non Sikh people) do not know what Sri Guru Granth Sahib contains and stands for. However, everybody know Sri Guru Granth Sahib as the ‘living Guru’ of the Sikhs. We should have taken this opportunity to highlight the fundamentals of the Gurbani as contained in the Holy Granth Sahib; like equal respect for all religions, (the bani of various Bhagat’s shows that), universal brotherhood, humility, spirituality without rituals, etc.

SGPC/Gurudwara Parbandak Committee members or those in places should have hired one full page in each newspaper of the country, which would have, quotes from Sri Guru Granth Sahib with its Hindi, English and other language translations. This feature should have continued daily for as long as a month. This would have resulted in almost everybody of every religious denominations becoming knowledgeable about the Holy Sri Guru Granth Sahib and the basic tenets and commandments given in the Holy Granth Sahib. The result would be larger number of people being aware of the Holy Sri Granth Sahib and its relevance to the modern world, at large. Over all, the Panth would have benefited in a large measure.

This would have been a greater and more appropriate celebration, fit for the occasion in addition to the rest of the celebrations. Kirtan, Kirtan Durbars, langars are all very good but we had the opportunity to ‘reach out’ to others, which would have had great benefit for the world at large and the Panth specifically. I suppose similar opportunities in future could be availed off as suggested in here.

Principal A S Rattan
Guru Nanak VBT Polytechnic
# 228, Sector 16-A, Chandigarh

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Go Global

Dear Editor,
We are, indeed, fortunate to have inherited the ultimate spiritual and intellectual treasure in the form of Guru Granth Sahib and the pride in belonging to the race of martyrs to righteousness, equality and justice to all, irrespective of caste, creed, race, gender. We need to ponder as to how best we can take the message of Guru Granth Sahib to the world, in the absence of reading habit amongst most. How do we tell the world that we are not members of any terrorist outfit but, courtesy the teachings of the Gurus, we believe the entire human race to be one and pray daily for the welfare of one and all.

Guru Nanak traveled far and wide, in all directions, to reach out to people and share his divine message in an age when even the modes of transport were primitive, if any at all. We have at our disposal an extremely advanced technology influencing every sphere of human activity, courtesy which, even the world is referred to as a global village. The most effective amongst the media is the visual medium, beyond any doubt.

Keeping all these factors in mind, I wish to place a suggestion before you. Although it is pricey, but we can, in one stroke, reach out to the entire world. We can familiarize the world with our value system in a very convincing and interesting way. And that is:

Since visual medium is most effective, we can, at the Panthic level, hire a reputed Hollywood team to make a film on Baba Banda Singh Bahadur. In addition to the Sikh value system flowing from the concept of the Sole Almighty of the human race, the passionate, zealous character of a Sikh surcharged with love for his Guru can be projected in an hour or so. (The film can be dubbed in every major language of the world.)

In spite of all our individual efforts to reach out to the world, we are the victims of hate crime. A saabat surat Sikh is still a sight that amazes people, especially the youth of almost all nations. It is this response of strangers that generates a complex in our youth. Once the character of Banda Singh Bahadur can be portrayed to the world, our youth too would feel confident that all know the quom and its greatness to which he belongs. He would come closer to bani and bana. He would take pride in associating himself with this quom. Presently, he finds himself associated with the dilemma created by our leading political and religious figures. And that, for someone who does not know the true spirit of Sikhi, is not easy.

Actually, Sikhism is a religion that the mentally mature alone can grip. And maturity comes with age in most. So, our youth get a complex before they can even begin to understand the uniqueness of their faith and carry its image on their person. We must understand the peer pressure they experience. Before expecting from them, let us first tell the world about the Sikh form and its values.

As it is, being the followers of the Guru, it is our foremost duty to spread the message of the Gurus as far and wide as possible. We may rather have more join us. As it is, Sikhism is a religion to be converted to, even if you are born into it. Mainly converts have written its glorious history. The life of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur itself depicts the transformation one can undergo in one’s lifetime.

Yours sincerely,
Birendra Kaur
November 9, 2008 <birendrakaur@yahoo.com>


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