Religion

Sikhs

Gobind Singh Longowal former driver of Harchand Singh Longowal elected SGPC president

JAGMOHAN SINGH
November 29, 2017 08:51 PM
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AMRITSAR: Four time MLA, and former minister Gobind Singh Longowal, the former driver of late Harchand Singh Longowal was today elected 42nd President of Shriomani Gurdwara Pharbandhak Committee (SGPC) during its annual general house meeting. He was polled 142 votes whereas his rival candidate was Amrik Singh Shahpur got only 15 votes. Totals number of votes were 169 .

Besides  SGPC president election,  Ragujit Singh Virk was elected Senior vice president,  Harpal Singh Jalla, Junior vice president,  Gurbachan Singh Karmuwal General secretary were elected unanimously amidst the religious slogans of Bol-e-So-Nihal Sat-Sri-Akal at the mini Sikh Parliament  in Teja Singh Samudari Hall in the SGPC premises.

Eleven Executive members elected unanimously were Sajjan Singh Banjuman, Bhagwant Singh Sialka, Lakhbir Singh, Gurpreet Kaur,Gurtej Singh Dhade, Hardev Singh, Ravinder Singh Chakk Mulla, Gurmeet Singh Zira, Gurneet Singh Talokewale,  Navtej Singh Kauni and Amrik Singh Shahpur.

Earlier in the morning, former Punjab Minister and SGPC member Bibi Jagir Kaur presented the name of Gobind Singh Lanogwal for the next SGPC president which was seconded by Manjit Singh. Elections were necessitated when opposition led by SGPC member Sukhdev Singh Bhaur presented the name of Amrik Singh Shahpur against Gobind Singh Langowal.

Gobind Singh Langowal who becomes the SGPC chief remained MLA in 1985, 1997 and 2002. He had also win by-elections from Dhuri when Congress MLA Arvind Khanna resigned in 2015. Longowal was also remained cabinet minister in the Akali Government. He became SGPC member in 2011.

The General House of SGPC today after the president elections passed a resolution condemned the Centre government’s move to change of the name of Delhi University’s Evening college Dayal Singh Majithia to Vande Matram Morning College.

Sikh Community

Panjab University colloquium holds lecture on “The Sikh Panth : Its History and Historiography”

Dr.Gurinder Singh Mann
December 05, 2017 08:34 AM
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CHANDIGARH: Panjab University Colloquia Committee in collaboration with Department of Political Science organized 43rd Colloquium Lecture on “The Sikh Panth : Its History and Historiography ”at Panjab University,here Monday.

The lecture was presided over by Prof. (Dr.) Arun K. Grover, Vice Chancellor, P.U. and  in his presidential address besides  briefing about the aim of PU Colloquia Lectures and conveying thanks to all the eminent and learned earlier colloquiua speakers who  showed always keen interest to visit Panjab University and interacted with the faculty and students also briefly introduced  the sikh history.

Prof. Promila Pathak, Coodinator PU Colloquium Committee introduced the speaker as a noted Punjabi-American historian and professor of Sikh Studies, besides a very noble human being full of love and devotion for his country.  He is Founder Director, Global Institute for Sikh Studies, New York. His publications include The Goindval Pothis (Harvard Oriental Series 51, 1996); The Making of Sikh Scripture (Oxford University Press, 2001); and Sikhism (Prentice Hall, 2004).. He has also written on Sikh Classical works like ‘Sri Guru Panth Parkash’ and ‘Goindwal Pothis’. Dr. Mann is a scholar in the real sense as he believes in continuing research and making the people aware of Sikh concepts and teachings of the Masters.

The lecture delivered by Prof. Gurinder Singh Mann included a brief survey of existing scholarly literature on the subject through which Prof. Mann analyzed the significance of history in Sikh life. He enlightened the audience about the tradition of history writing within the Sikh Panth.     He gave an insight on how Sikh history has emerged over a period of time. He emphasized history needs to be recorded and remembered in a forward looking way. He said history is enshrined at pilgrimage centers of Sikh. He shared his concern that Sikh history in circulation has problems as least important narratives are in print form. For instance, there are problems with birth date, title and name of Sikh Gurus. In most of the compositions by Nanak he calls him ‘Baba’ but present day literature refers him as Guru Nanak, Guru Nanak Dev etc.

Prof. Mann’s lecture articulated upon how sacred geography of Sikhism is centered around  pilgrimage spots associated with Sikh Guru’s.. He shared with the audience his grave concern on how Sikh scholarship is adopting new approaches from West which he called ‘Import Mincer’ from different streams such as feminism and post-modernism to make sense to existing Sikh literature.

Prof. Mann concluded his talk by saying that with a set of concrete suggestions for the new generation of scholars as they generate their own narrative of Sikh history, in the future. He said “there is urgent need to revise the primary sources, the text, their dating as well the context of dating “.

The lecture  was well attended by a large number of senior officials, chairpersons, faculty members, research scholars  and UG/PG students of the University. 

Hindu Community

Hindu Temple opens in Abilene Texas

Bhagwan Vishnu Idol in Abilene Hindu Temple
November 26, 2017 12:02 PM
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NEVADA: Recently launched Abilene Hindu Temple (AHT), also known as Vishveshwara Swamy Temple, was reportedly built according to ancient Hindu scriptures and architecture. Main objective of AHT is “to propagate Hindu religion and to perform Hindu rituals”. “Devotees must be on strict vegetarian on visit”, its website states.
 
AHT opens daily at eight am, holds arthi twice everyday, and organizes weekly pujas to Hindu deities Vishnu, Rudra, Rama, Krishna, Durga, Ganapathi, etc. It performs various worship services, including “Annadanam” for $1000 and “Vahana (vehicle) Pooja” for $50. AHT also provides home visit priest services for devotees who wish to have worship services at home.
 
Meanwhile, distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, commended efforts of temple leaders and area community towards realizing this Hindu temple.
 
Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, further said that it was important to pass on Hindu spirituality, concepts and traditions to coming generations amidst so many distractions in the consumerist society and hoped that this temple would help in this direction. Zed stressed that instead of running after materialism; we should focus on inner search and realization of Self and work towards achieving moksh (liberation), which was the goal of Hinduism.
 
Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about 1.1 billion adherents. There are about three million Hindus in USA.
 
Abilene in West Texas, incorporated in 1881, is home to three lakes and seven colleges. Prominent people associated with Abilene include singer-actress Jessica Simpson, Olympic gold-medalist sprinter Bobby Morrow and country musician Lee Roy Parnell.

Sikh Community

SikhPAC chairman GS Khalsa endores Hate Crime Bill

BALBIR SINGH
November 24, 2017 09:58 AM
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INDIANAPOLIS: Sikhs Political Actiion Committee (SikhsPAC) Founder and Chairman Gurinder Singh Khalsa endorsed pending hate crimes legislation at a press conference held today at the Atrium of the Indiana State Capitol/Statehouse building in Downtown. The event was organized by the Central Indiana Alliance Against Hate and included state legislators and representatives of various organizations.
Representatives of several supporting organizations , including Indiana Latino Institute, Indiana Statewide Independent Living Council, Indiana Youth Group, Indy Chamber, Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council and Indianapolis Urban League/ Exchange at the Indianapolis Urban League addressed the press conference.
Mr Khalsa emphasized the importance of enacting hate crimes legislation to Hoosiers and  state’s economic development. “Today, many businesses – including large corporations of all types – will not locate their operations in states that don’t protect threatened minorities,” Khalsa said. “Business want to be sure that they can employ the best people possible, without regard to race, sex, color or religion. And they want to be assured that their employees are protected from harm.
“Our state is dependent on businesses to create opportunities for everyone,” he added. “The lack of a strong hate crimes law deters companies from considering Indiana for new jobs. And it implies that we, as Hoosiers, do not cherish all of our fellow citizens.”
According to Khalsa, Sikhs value peace and unity. “Our philosophy emphasizes equality of all mankind. We believe in actively protecting the rights of others. And we believe in helping others, both for the good of the community and the good of each individual person,” he said. “Indiana needs these protections. SikhsUSA and SikhsPAC strongly support hate crime legislation in the upcoming general assembly.”
The Sikh community in Indiana is large and growing every day. More than 10,000 Sikhs live in Indiana and more than 3,500 businesses are owned or operated by Sikhs in our state.
The Central Indiana Alliance Against Hate (CIAAH) joined with supporting organizations and fellow Hoosiers to host a press conference during the General Assembly’s Organization Day on November 21, 2017. The press conference  raised needed attention to Indiana’s lack of a comprehensive hate crime law. With the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) indicating an increasing number of hate crimes in Indiana, and across the country, Indiana still remains one of only five states without a comprehensive hate crime statute.
“It is important that the General Assembly prioritize bias crimes legislation in 2018 and finally pass a comprehensive bill,” stated David Sklar of the Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council. “It is wonderful to see that so many Hoosiers, and Hoosier organizations and businesses, are rallying around this issue. It is clear that not only is it a criminal law issue, but it’s also a quality of place issue for the State. People want to know that they are safe and hate motivated crimes will be dealt with as they are in a vast majority of the rest of the country,” he continued.

Sikh Community

Guru Teg Bahadur is Dharam-di-chadar and not Hind-di-chadar: Dal Khalsa

November 22, 2017 10:59 PM
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AMRITSAR:  Dal Khalsa has urged Sikh Diaspora to observe the martyrdom day of Guru Teg Bahadur as 'Human Rights and Religious Freedom' day as the Guru attained martyrdom to protect the oppressed class irrespective of their religion and caste.

The organization re-affirmed that Guru Teg Bahadur was in fact “dharam di chadar” (cover for religion), and not “Hind-di-chadar” (cover for Hindu) as being propagated.   

As per original Nanakshahi calendar the day has been fixed for Nov 24 where as the SGPC that has reverted to Bikrami calendar was observing it this year on 23rd.

"Guru Teg Bahadur was undisputed the first martyr for human rights. His martyrdom was unparalleled in world history as never before somebody had laid down life to defend the right of followers of another faith to practice their faith," said Kanwar Pal Singh, Paramjit Singh and Ranbir Singh, office bearers of the pro-freedom Sikh group.

"It was around a century before the popular quotation attributed to French writer and philosopher Voltaire, 'I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it', that the ninth Guru demonstrated it literally," they argued.

"Indian government should correct all errors and misgivings about Sikh Gurus from the books published by the NCERT," they demanded adding the Sikh thinkers, intellectuals and historians should re-write the Sikh history free from outside influences and biases.

Sikh Community

USA Sikhs hold conference to implement 'Mool Nanakshahi Calender' at Illinois Gurdawara

Members of Sikh Community Midwest
November 17, 2017 01:30 PM
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CHICAGO, IL: Sikh Religious Society hosted a two-day conference on November 11 & 12, 2017 at the Sikh Gurdwara in Palatine, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, to implement "Mool Nanakshahi Calendar."

The conference kicked off with a welcome dinner to honor the distinguished speakers of the conference as well as the participating guests from various Sikh organizations in the US, Canada, India, and Australia. The dinner held at Ashyana Banquets in Downers Grove Illinois and managed by S. Amardev Singh, featured introductions and a brief synopsis of the range of topics the speakers would cover during the two day conference program.

The focus of the conference was to preserve the unique Sikh Heritage and prepare the Sikh Panth (community) for the next millennia. The expert speakers explained the history and importance of the Mool Nanakshahi Calendar. Sardar Pal Singh Purewal of Canada, the brain behind the Mool Nanakshahi Calendar talked about the efforts he has made to spread awareness about the practicality of the calendar and emphasized how important it is for our next generations to adopt it.

Bibi Jasbir Kaur (Ohio) threw light on the need of passing our heritage on to the next generation in order to secure Sikh identity. She talked about how important it is for kids to understand and apply Gurbani (words of Sikh Gurus) in their daily life. “It takes a Village to raise a child, it takes a nation to raise a Sikh,” said Bibi Jasbir Kaur.

Among others who spoke at the conference were S. Sarabjit Singh (Sacramento) , Prof. Niranjan Singh Dhesi, S. Surinder Singh (Talking Punjab) and Harkirat Singh Ajnoha (Australia).

The speakers stressed upon the significant role of the Sikh community overseas in accomplishing this mission. The conference featured a presentation explaining how the Mool Nanakshahi Calendar works and helps maintain the constancy of the dates of Sikh annual religious observances and celebrations. Accurate and consistent recurrence of these Sikh historical dates and preservation of Gurbani's relevance is of the utmost importance for the Sikh generations to come. According to the Bikrami (lunar) calendar the dates change every year, throwing seasons out of whack in future.

"The Mool Nanakshahi Calendar will forever fix the ever drifting Sikh historical dates, currently observed by the Bikrami calendar, and synchronize these original and accurate dates with the Common Era (CE) tropical calendar," said Pal Singh Purewal the creator of the Nanakshahi calendar.

The resolutions passed in this conference entailed that, the Sikh scholars and SGPC (Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee) had already introduced the "Mool Nanakshahi Calendar", a tropical calendar conforming to Gurbani, on the 300th anniversary of "Khalsa Saajna Divas" in 1999.

Whereas, many Sikh organizations have already been following Nanakshahi Calendar for many years, except for the three dates - Guru Nanak's Birthday Gurpurab, Bandee Chhorrh Divas, and Holla-Muhalla.

So the Chicago conference emphasized to fully adopt and forever follow The "Mool Nanakshahi Calendar" and its methodology to observe Sikh historical annual events on the following fixed dates.

a. Guru Nanak's Parkaash (birthday) Divas on April 14th (1-Vaisaakh), the Vaisaakhi day.

b. Bandee Chhorrh Divas on February 12th (1-Phaggan).

c. Holla Muhalla on March 14th (1-Chet), Mool Nanakshahi New Year Day.

The conference ended with a call to all Sikh social, cultural, and religious organizations to unite to fully adopt and implement the "Mool Nanakshahi Calendar," and preserve it forever to cherish the unique Sikh heritage blessed by Baba Nanak the founder of Sikh faith.

Heeding the call of the conference, many Sikh Gurdwaras of Midwest America adopted these resolutions.

Sikh Community

Indian court told Google to remove hate speech videos on Sikhism

Sikh devotee taking dip at holy sarovar in Golden Temple
November 02, 2017 10:16 PM
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NEW DELHI: A court here on Thursday directed Google India to remove from social media, including Youtube, all videos featuring a woman called Sakshi Bhardwaj who is making hate speech about Sikh gurus and Sikh religion.

The court also restrained Google India from uploading and publishing any videos containing hate speeches and derogatory remarks against any religion and in particular, against the Sikh community.

Additional Senior Civil Judge Jasjeet Kaur, after watching some of the videos, ordered the removal of all such videos of Bhardwaj and gave Google India seven days' time for this.

"After going through the contents of the plaint and watching the videos, it prima facie appears that the uploader of the videos has made derogatory remarks against Sikh Gurus and their family members including mothers and wives," the court said, observing followers of Sikh faith are likely to feel a grave insult to their religious sentiments by continued circulation of these videos.

"Moreover, social harmony and law and order situations is likely to get adversely affected", if Google is not restricted from publication of the derogatory videos, the court said and listed the matter for November 22 for further hearing.

The court was hearing a plea seeking removal of hate speech videos against Sikh religion filed by railway official Gurcharan Singh Walia, 53, through his counsel Gurmeet Singh.

The complainant told the court that on October 28, he saw videos and photographs on social media where Bhardwaj was delivering a hate speech against Sikhism.

Sikh Community

Dal Khalsa demands to make paintings and pictures of 1984 massacre part of Sikh Museum

Dal Khalsa leqder Kanwarpal Singh with painting of Delhi Sikh massacre
October 31, 2017 04:51 PM
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AMRITSAR: The radical Sikh organisation Dal Khalsa has demanded that that paintings and pictures depicting the Nov 1984 genocide be put up in the Sikh Central Museum and made part of the Sikh heritage.

The organization is of the view that the pictures and paintings depicting atrocities on the Sikhs sponsored and conspired by then Indian political leadership and executed by frenzied mobs should be made part of the Sikh Central Museum, lest the coming generations forget the tragic event.

To press for their demand, the Dal Khalsa will meet the SGPC president and secretary tomorrow to submit the memorandum in this regard.  

Party head H S Cheema and spokesperson Kanwar Pal Singh said the Sikh Central museum has paintings and pictures depicting atrocities perpetrated by Mughal emperors and British rulers of the last century. On the same pattern, we request SGPC to put up paintings and pictures showing barbarism of Indian Hindu leaders of present times. “There are so many original pictures on social sites showing barbarism and violence against Sikh men and women unleashed by lumpen elements in connivance with political leadership and the police. “All these pictures and paintings showing Sikh pain should become part of the museum”, said they and wondered why the community remained silent on this sensitive issue for 33 years".  

Dal Khalsa on its part has prepared a painting to be presented to the SGPC tomorrow in which the then Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was shown discussing a point with his cabinet and party colleagues including Jagdish Tytler, Sajjan Kumar and others on one side and Hindu mobs burning Sikhs alive and setting ablaze the Gurdwara on the other side. “This painting is just an idea, a concept to share our perception with the SGPC”.

To drive their point home, they said, the killings started after Rajiv Gandhi was sworn in as Prime Minister of India along with his four colleagues including P V Narasima Rao.

Sikh Community

RSS move to celebrate Guru Gobind Singh anniversary triggers major controversy and Sikh protests

Satinder Bains
Guru Gobind Singh
October 24, 2017 11:04 PM
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CHANDIGARH: A majir controversy has started over RSS move to celebrate 350th birth annivesaray of Tenth Sikh master Guru Gobind Singh for which the Rashtriya Sikh Sangat a frontal organisation of RSS is holding a funtion in Delhi on October 25. The Akal Takht and all Sikh organisations have opposed the RSS designs in one voice.

The anniversary of Guru Granth Sahib falls on November 4 when another function is scheduled at Patna Sahib in Bihar. Mohan Bhagwat RSS chief will inaugurate the anniversary function tomorrow where top BJP leaders including Chief Ministers of various BJP ruled states will participate.

Sensing mood of the Sikh community, the Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh has told Sikhs not to attend the RSS sponsored function while giving reference of an edict issued in year 2004 asking Sikh to boycott the Gurbani Yatra organised by Sikh Sangat. Jathedar has said that Akal Takht had posed certain queries to RSS and they never clarified their stand on it.

The BJP, political wing of RSS has a political alliance with Shiromani Akali Dal(SAD) of which Badal family is the custodian. RSS is accused of making inrodads into Sikh religion under the garb of its political alliance with SAD and Badal family was blamed for creating room for RSS for their vested business interests.

For now the SAD, SGPC and Delhi Sikh Gurdawara Management Committee (DSGMC) and also SAD faction led by Paramjit Singh Sarna have distanced from the RSS function. The invitation cards of the function had mentioned name of Giani Iqbal Singh Jathedar of Takht Patna Sahib but later he also stepped back. While Patna Sahib Gurdawara management is with Sarna brothers, the management of SGPC and DSGMC is controlled by Badal family. Delhi SAD (Badal) president Manjit Singh GK who is also President of DSGMC was in thick of controversy for giving DSGMC tickets to certain leaders of Sikh cell of BJP but he denied the reports after it became public. Interestingly, DSGMC general secretary is elected MLA on BJP ticket with the support of RSS and BJP.

The Sikh organisations oppose the RSS move to celebrate Sikh festivals on the ground that RSS didnt recognise Sikhs as separate community and consider them a branch of Hindu religon. The RSS has a basic policy of decimating the minority communities and establishing Hindu Rashtra in India. The Sikh, Muslims, Budhists, Christians and Jains consider RSS and BJP a major threat to their identity due to anti-minority stance of RSS and its affiliated bodies.There is also conflict over autority of Guru Granth Sahib as RSS gives credence to Dasam Granth and does not accept the supermacy of Guru Granth Sahib.

The mistruct bewtween Sikhs and RSS is not a new thing even though SAD and BJP enjoy an opportunist political alliance in Punjab and Delhi. These paties have no common ideology but they draw a 'minimum common programme' for themselves to rule in Punjab. Now when Akal Takht has endorsed the fact that RSS and BJP are not well wishers of Sikhs, would SAD the repersentative party of Sikhs break its alliance with BJP?

RSS leader Parteek Singh in a TV debate has taken the stand that Sikhs shall welcome RSS move to celebrate anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh which is in recognition of Guru Gobind Singh's contribution for Hindustan. Sikhs are not ready to buy this explanation.

Karnail Singh Peer Mohammed President of All India Sikh students federation said that RSS has sinister designs of weaking Sikh Panth and they are working on hidden agenda. He alleged that though the blame of massacre of Sikhs in Dehi in 1984 is entirely labled on Congress but RSS activists were also involved in violence against Sikhs and their role is never probed. He said that BJP governmetn at center has not given justice to Sikhs and SIT formed for the purpose has not made any progress.

Sikh Community

Akal Takht Jathedar's call to Punjab villagers to pass resolution for removal of liquore vends

Punjab Newsline Network
Giani Gurcachan Singh
October 20, 2017 01:17 PM
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AMRITSAR: Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh in his message to Sikh Community on eve of Bandi Chhod divas has called to end internal conflict and unitedly work for peace and propserity and to defeat the enemies of Panth. He asked the Sikhs to remain committed to Akal Takht and observe Sikh rehat maryada.
Jathedar however restrained from directly commenting on parallel Sikh Jathedars appointed by Sarbat Khalsa. He had given responsibility of maintaining peace in the Golden Temple complex to the Punjab Government. The radical Sikh Jathedar Dhian Singh Mand had threatened to give message to community from Akal Takht. Police had made fool proof arrangements to prevent any untoward incident.
Giani Guerbachan Singh expressed his concern over delay in giving punishment to accused of sacrilege of holy Guru Granth Sahib. He sought to identify and punish the culprits. He also told Sikhs to perform functions of their Anand Karaj, birth and death in the Gurdawara permises only. He said taht Sikh ceremonies have become very costly and only beneficieries are hotels and marriage palaces.He said that it was matter of concern that Sikhs were taking loans to perform family functions.He said that one of the reasons for suicides by farmers is indebtness due to high cost of ceremonies.
Jathedar demanded to release all Sikhs lodged in jails after completing their sentence. he told Punjab and center governments to do the needful.
Giani Gurbachan Suingh called upon village Panchayats and Sikhs in particular to fight against menace of drugs. He told them to pass resolutions in villages for removal of liquior vends. He appealed to women to come forward for the cause.
Sikh Community

Fireworks, LED lighting mark 'Bandi Chhor Diwas', Diwali at Golden Temple

Jagmohan Singh
LED lighting and fire works at Golden Temple Amritsar
October 19, 2017 08:46 PM
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AMRITSAR: Fireworks display and the newly-installed LED lighting marked the celebrations of "Bandi Chhor Diwas" and Diwali as thousands of devotees flocked to the Golden Temple complex here on Thursday.

The complex, where the holiest of Sikh shrines "Harmandir Sahib" is located, was illuminated with LED lights, giving it an all-new look.

The fireworks display duration has been shortened since last year owing to environmental concerns.

There was festive spirit at the shrine complex in this Sikh holy city as thousands of people came here to offer prayers and seek blessings.

The domes, buildings and floors of the shrine complex were cleaned and lighted up for the festive occasion. The day is celebrated in Sikh religion as "Bandi Chhor Diwas" (prisoner liberation day).

On this day, the sixth guru of Sikhs, Guru Hargobind, had returned to Amritsar after being released along with 52 princes from imprisonment by the Mughal emperor Jahangir from Gwalior prison in 1619.

The guru and the princes arrived in Amritsar during Diwali festivities. Since then, the Bandi Chhor Diwas and Diwali celebrations coincide at the Golden Temple complex.

Elsewhere in Punjab, markets wore a festive look on the occasion of Diwali but traders said that sales were down owing to the GST (Goods and Services Tax) introduced recently and the restrictions imposed on the bursting of crackers.

People thronged various markets in Amritsar, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Patiala and other towns.

Sikhs Abroad

Tying turbans hog limelight at Indy Festival of Faiths

Punjab Newsline Network
Turban tying by US citizens at faith festival
October 16, 2017 11:31 AM
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Indiapolis, USA- Sikhs Political Action Committee and Sikh Society of Indiana, an umbrella of Midwest Gurdwaras and Sikhs organized tying turban event which got an overwheling response at the 5th Annual Indy Festival of Faiths 2017. The organizers of the Festival of Faiths, Center of Interfaith Cooperation (CIC), shifted all activities inside the War Memorial, Downtown as rain played a spoil sport.
According to spokespersons of Sikh Society of Indiana and SikhsPAC more than 350 visitors, including women, from all faiths were tied colored turbans. They all looked enthusiastic and thrilled. Tying turban is a campaign to spread the message that "We are Sikhs". All were welcome. SikhsPAC had announced that   Prince, Princess, King and Queen would be selected among those who participated in the turban tying event and the winners will be adjudged “The Emperor of the World”.

Meanwhile, this year more exhibitors than ever before took part in the Festivals of Faiths, and many new activities were added to entertain and enlighten Festival-goers. CIC described it as  the "biggest" Indy Festival of Faiths ever!

CIC Board chair Jane Gehlhausen and Festival chair Muzaffar Ahmad extended welcome to the participants. Greetings were from five religious leaders, including 2017 Interfaith Ambassador of the Year Sister Norma Rocklage and song of praise by Eritren choir.
After Taiko drums performance, Michael Glen Bell performed  acoustic/folf rock  songs of faith and justice with a bit of Christian liturgy mixed in. Taiko drums were used in Japan as early as 6th century CE for communications, in festivals and in other Buddhist rituals.
After the Mexican Folklorico dance there was a Sikh Satsang Choir :" God, you are Benevolent Lord, Compassionate Master, Eternal Guide and Protector. For Sikhs, devotional music is an important aspect of this spiritual journey.

As Hindus have made their journey from India to Indiana, music and dance  have been essential for preserving  centuries- old religious heritage. Nrityanjali Dance School students gave a dance performance and  Varuna Dhanabal sang traditional Hindu song. It was followed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Double Quartet.

Part of Salesforce, SouthAsiaForce Indy tried to protect the intergrity and existence of different religions and communities from South Asia.

Closing remarks were from Reveremd Marilyn Gill of Indiana Christian Leadership Conference and Reverend Carolyn Hardville from African Methodist Episcopal Church. Then joined together in a rousing rendition of "Lift Every Voice and Sing!"

Another feature of the Festival was social awareness table conversations.  Rev Dolores Thornton helped  organize an award-winning collection of  visual and spoken word artists and writers.

A meditation program with simple instructions was followed by question-answer  session on meditation or Buddhism in general.
Congratulating the Center for Interfaith Cooperation for hosting the Indy  Festival of Faiths Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb in  a message said " Indiana is proud to be home of many religious institutions. People of all faiths in Indiana and across  this country represent the very best  of what it means to be faithful Americans. I have the sincere hope this event can continue  that mission and fuirther strengthen the bonds between Hoosiers of all faiths and the communities they serve."

Wishing for a successful and memorable Indy Festival of Faiths, the Governor wished CIC all the best in promoting faith and friendship in our comminity.

Indiana Mayor Joseph H Hogsett applauded the CIC and the Festival's Steering Committee for bringing people  together to share and learn about the many different religious traditions in our community. It is important to offer opportunities for citizens to embrace our cultural diversity and to serve as a welcoming community to all.



"Please enjoy your time at the festival today as you learn about the faith traditions of your neighbors -- you are contributing positively to the development of greater understanding, respect and trust amomg all residents of our city."

The Steering Committee comprise  Muzaffar Ahmad (chair), Cenk Kandemir, Rick Belbutoski, Nathan Day Wilson, KP Singh, Maria Pimentel-Gannon, Dr Larry Gerstein, Dorotohy Mack, George Kelley, Jane Gehlhausen, Charlie Wiles, Jon Clark, Sister Norma Rocklage, Maninder Walia, Zulaiha Razak, Jim Maher, Ben Lesile, Rev Dolores Thornton, Ray Mills, Abbygail Parker, Deb Saxon, Naseer Syed, Tim Irwin, Rev Marilyn Gill, Philip Cleveland, Maha Muzaffar, Glenn Tebbe, Rebecca Holloway, Joel Reichenbach, Carolyn Hardville, Sonal Sanghani and Valerie Khokhar.

Executive Director Educational Formation Outreach at Marian University  Sister Norma Rocklage. CIC founder member  and 2016 Interfaith Ambassador  Kanwal Prakash Singh, CIC Board chair Jane Gehlhausen, Festival chair Muzaffar Ahmad, Dr Anita Joshi, Maninder Walia, SikhsPAC founder president Gurinder Singh Walia, CIC founding board member Imam Michael "Mikal" Saahir, Gurdwara Sri Hargonind Singh, Greenwood, chairman Jasdeep Singh, Rupal Thanawala of Asian American Alliance and Jagdish Singh were among those present.

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