How to Celebrate Guru’s Anniversary with an Objective

There are always alternatives available to celebrate our Gurus anniversaries with different way

With an Objective?

Sikhs celebrate Guru’s anniversaries with great enthusiasm. Overtime these celebrations took different turns. Traditionally they were simple, the village people used to go to Gurduara in the evening, listen to Keertan and Katha, and after the service only the blessed prashad (degh) was served to the congregation. There used to be no langar served. Now a days the celebration include Akhand paths, keertan darbars, langars and Nagar keertan or better known as “Jaluse” etc. These functions often last for few days. Nagar keertan provide excellent opportunity for people to socialize and enjoy different types of free food. However, more celebrations and different functions help Gurduaras generate more income on the backs of the ignorant Sikh public.

There are always alternatives available to celebrate our Gurus anniversaries with different way. Presently, most celebrations in Sikhism are without any goals, objectives or benefit to humankind. The objective of this article is to share our different approach to celebrate and to take part in Guru Nanak’s 550th anniversary and more importantly share our experience to inspire other Sikh communities.

An idea came to my mind and was discussed with like- minded individuals. The idea was to raise a small fund about $2000.00 and donate it to a local charity with the following objectives:

  1. Promote or share Guru Nanak’s teachings of “Vand Shakna”(share) or help the needy in western society.
  2. Promote the positive image of local Sikh community.

It was decided that I should send emails to other members of the community with details of the idea and the requirements to accomplish it . The following email was sent to the community members :

   Re: Guru Nanak’s 550th Anniversary

   Sat Sri Akal,

An idea was shared with some of you to raise funds to donate to a local charity to take part in this year’s Guru’s celebrations. I am thinking about $50.00 per family to raise about $2000.00. If someone likes to donate more it would be greatly appreciated. Please note all donations are Tax Deductible. This small project would have the following objectives:

(Please note the 2 objectives described above)

There are about 50 Punjabi/ Sikh families and approximately 100 international students live in this city. I sent 44 emails and was very pleased to have 14 acknowledgments. All the like- minded members of the community responded with their pledges. All members who responded appreciated the idea and raised no objection. I sincerely thanked everyone for their donations and special thanks to the followings:

  1. One family in our community with no regular income, who were pleased to donate for this noble cause.
  2. My grandchildren (ages 12 and 17) were excited to help me in this project and together they donated $50.00. 

After some consideration it was decided “United Way” would be an ideal organization to donate as it supports large number of local groups or charities. I personally went to United Way office and discussed our goals and objectives with the campaign director. They were very pleased to hear our fund- raising project and agreed to meet our objectives by posting it in the local newspaper and on social media. I provided the following information with our purpose, Guru’s mission or teachings and our (Sikhs) obligation to the Guru to United Way and asked them to add their comments to support our donation. The United Way posted the followings with one of our group picture on social media and forwarded it to “Brandon Sun” a local newspaper:

“Sikhs throughout the world are celebrating the 550th anniversary of Guru Nanak, who was the founder of Sikhism. By following Guru Nanak’s philosophy, Sikhs believe in tolerance, justice, equality, peace, love, compassion, truth, brotherhood and humility. He was a strong advocate for social and spiritual status of women. He advised his followers to make their living by honest means (earnings) and share thy earning with the poor, sick, disabled and underprivileged. He also started the tradition of langar best known as Food Banks.

To fulfill their obligation to Guru Nanak, the Sikh community of Brandon, Manitoba decided to take a different approach to celebrate this anniversary, than the traditional way. Instead of worshiping and feasting at a religious institution, they decided it would be better to give back to the community and those in need. After some consideration, it was decided that donating to United Way was the best fit as it supports all the essential services in Brandon”.

“At United Way, we recognize that equity and diversity are not only moral and economic imperatives for our community, but that they are central to our mission of uniting caring people to build better lives for all of us. We are thrilled to welcome the Sikh community as our first group donors to our annual campaign. Their desire to impact those in need all across our community shows a commitment to join together, believing in the potency of inclusion and building from a common bond of humanity. Together we can make a difference in the lives of so many. There is the power of people”.

The Brandon Sun published the article titled “Sikh community honours founder with donation” on September 12, 2019 in “Westman this Week” (part of Brandon Sun). It is a wonderful write up by Colin Slark, a Brandon Sun reporter. I received lot of positive feed back from my friends. On behalf of Sikh community of Brandon, I thanked Colin Slark for his excellent work.

Conclusions:

As one can see we achieved our goals and objectives as planned. We were very pleased to raise $1,450.00, a little short of our intended goal of $2000.00. However, it served our purpose and we are very proud of this undertaking.

If a small community like ours can do it, then the larger Sikh communities in big cities can do better. 

I hope this way of celebrations with objectives becomes the norm in the future. I am certain that other Sikh communities would follow this type of small projects which would promote Guru’s philosophy or teachings and Sikh community’s image in western society.

 

Ramjit Singh Mann

Acknowledgments:

My special thanks to Simran Kaur Gill for editing this article.

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