Religious harmony is the peaceful coexistence and mutual respect among followers of different faiths and beliefs. It fosters an environment where individuals from various religions can interact, understand, and appreciate one another's practices, promoting unity and tolerance. An event from 2008 is a good example of this. More than a thousand people gathered with Sikhs to celebrate the 300th anniversary of Guru Maneyo Granth – the belief in the Granth as their Guru.

Guru Granth Sahib Ji 

In 1708, Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru of Sikhism, transferred all spiritual authority to the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh Scriptures. He declared, “This is now your Guru, you will not worship or pay homage to  a living person, as of now Guru Granth Sahib will be the Eternal Guru”

As a result of this decision, a lineage of ten Gurus and 239 years of spiritual wisdom became embodied within the Guru Granth Sahib. It became the central guiding source for Sikhs, holding immense significance in their faith and practices.

Celebrations in Birmingham 

At the tri-centenary celebrations in Bingley Hall, Birmingham, that took place in 2008, representatives from seven faiths—Buddhist, Christian, Jain, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh—delivered passionate speeches. They spoke about the teachings of Sikhism and how their own religions align with its principles.

The Lord Mayor of Birmingham welcomed everyone, highlighting that the Sikh Holy Scripture, Guru Granth Sahib Ji, emphasizes achieving a blissful state and living in harmony with the earth and all of God's creations. Also, Chancellor Alan Rudge, responsible for equality and human resources, praised Sikhism for promoting global interfaith communities, mutual respect, and harmony.

Venerable Kassapa OBE, speaking on behalf of the Buddhist community, referred to the Guru Granth, which advises remembering God, working hard, and sharing food. He drew parallels to Buddhist teachings, where developing oneself spiritually is encouraged for the betterment of society.

It was a real delight and a moment of honour to see dignitaries from different religions come together and honour the living Guru of Sikhism. 

Leaders of different faiths came together 

The Revd Dr Toby Howarth, Inter-Faith Adviser to the Bishop of Birmingham, spoke passionately about the Guru Granth Sahib. He highlighted its extraordinary relevance to the diverse region, containing not only the words of Sikh Gurus but also compositions from mystic sages like Nam Dev, Kabir, and Sheikh Farid. He emphasized the importance of bringing together all traditions to build a peaceful and prosperous society for future generations.

Mr. Arvinder Jain, representing the Jains in Birmingham, shared that he became familiar with Sikhism due to its prominence in the region. He found similarities between Sikh and Jain teachings and felt a strong connection with the Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Also, Brian Cooper, the Jewish speaker, pointed out the many similarities between Sikhism and Judaism, including their belief in one God and the shared pillars of Penitence, Prayer, and Charity.

Pandit Dharam Dutt Vasistha, speaking on behalf of the Hindu community, expressed that the greatness of Sri Guru Granth Sahib cannot be adequately described but must be experienced and embraced. He emphasized that understanding its spiritual meaning brings ultimate joy to life and that it represents the essence of Vedas. Representing the Muslim community, Dr. Abdul Rashid highlighted the message of coexistence, tolerance, and respect for people of diverse faiths found in the Guru Granth Sahib.

Concluding the speeches, Sardar Bahadur Singh emphasized Sikh beliefs in One God and the Guru Granth Sahib as their spiritual guide, with no need for additional prophets.

The successful event 

The play "Guru Maneyo Granth," performed by the Punjabi Academy, conveyed Guru Gobind Singh's message to worship only the Guru Granth Sahib. The event, a dream of the Eastern Media Group, was planned for four years and involved the proud participation of Mrs. Satinder Kaur Taunque and Dr. Jagjit Singh Taunque, as envisioned by Dr. Gurjeet Kaur Bains, Editor in Chief. The Loyal Toast was given by Dr. Jagjit Singh Taunque MBE, Deputy Lord Lieutenant.

Mrs Satinder Kaur Taunque, chair of Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle, said “We significantly delivered the message of Guru Maneyo Granth, to all faith communities. Having an audience that was both diverse in age, faith and gender was both challenging and satisfying, with Guru ji’s grace the audience enjoyed the multi faith element of these celebrations”

A special souvenir was published by Eastern Media Group to commemorate this auspicious anniversary and given to the audience as memorabilia. Interfaith events like this are all about talking and understanding each other's beliefs and traditions. Together, we can tackle big challenges like helping those in need and taking care of our planet. So, let's join hands and celebrate our differences because that's what makes our world colourful and amazing!

*Based on an article published in on 10th December 2008


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