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Canada Community Split on Resolution Banning Non-baptized Sikhs from Running Guru Nanak Temple

Discussion in 'Breaking News' started by spnadmin, Jul 14, 2011.

  1. spnadmin

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    By Gurpreet Singh, July 12, 2011
    A resolution to bar nonbaptized members from top executive positions at Surrey’s Guru Nanak Sikh temple has once again divided the local Sikh community.

    Passed by a show of hands by conservative Sikhs—who outnumbered moderates at a stormy temple meeting last month—the controversial resolution is likely to be challenged in the courts and at the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal. In fact, a group of moderates consulted a Vancouver lawyer this week, while some others have resolved to approach the tribunal with a complaint alleging discrimination.

    Once implemented, the resolution will not allow the top 10 executive positions to go to nonbaptized Sikhs. This has enraged moderates who for years not only managed and controlled the temple, but who had in fact established it in early 1980s. After divisions arose, they were ousted by the conservative Sikh Youth slate in the 2009 temple election.

    When Sikh militancy was at its peak in the 1980s, the temple was in the hands of fundamentalist supporters of a Sikh homeland, but came back to the moderates around mid 1990s. During this time, there were fights in the temple over an edict issued by clergy in India asking Sikhs not to use tables and chairs inside the temple's community meal room.

    Instead, clergy wanted them to eat sitting cross-legged on the floor in accordance with the age-old tradition practised in Indian Sikh temples.

    The more recently elected conservative body replaced tables and chairs inside the community meal hall with rugs. The president, Bikramjit Singh, is a baptized Sikh, whereas the previous moderate president of the temple, Balwant Singh Gill, was not and does not sport long hair and a beard.

    In addition to the long hair and beard, a baptized Sikh must wear other articles of the faith, including the Kirpan (a sword).

    Since those who established the Guru Nanak Sikh temple are not baptized, they are particularly bitter at the decision of the current management. Their argument is that as the majority of the congregation of the temple is not baptized, why must it be mandatory to have baptized Sikhs in the top 10 executive positions. They find the resolution highly discriminatory. After all, not all practising Sikhs are baptized.

    Baptized Sikhs have to take a religious oath in which they are not supposed to cut their hair and must wear all articles of faith. In addition, they strictly follow a code of conduct that bars taking intoxicants, practising the caste system, and indulging in superstitions denounced by the tenets of the Sikh faith. But every Sikh who sports long hair is not necessarily baptized.

    Moderates therefore feel that only a small minority within the Sikh community is baptized—and in a democratic society, those representing the majority cannot be slighted.

    However, the conservative temple management does not agree that the resolution is discriminatory or aimed at dividing the community. According to them, temple officials have to become good role models to challenge apostasy among the youth.

    Whatever the logic behind this move, it has once again brought Sikhs to a crossroads. Community leaders should hold a dialogue to resolve differences instead of fighting among themselves or wasting resources in court battles. They should learn to live with differences of opinion and work in harmony on common issues and challenges, such as racism or anti-immigration policies.

    Neither a baptized nor a nonbaptized temple leadership alone can set a good example. Baptism alone cannot ensure good conduct. Like a true devout Sikh, even a nonbaptized practising Sikh can set a good example by following secular and liberal teachings of the Sikh religion that denounce casteism and discrimination.

    Nobody should have a problem with baptized priests or preachers, but elected officials of temples which are like community centres in the Lower Mainland, can still be run by the people who are not baptized. For years, Sikh temples in the Vancouver area operated in a liberal environment.

    Meanwhile, moderates should realize that the conservative Sikh Youth slate enjoys the mandate of the congregation. After all, they were elected to run the temple and people who voted them must have been familiar with their ideological stand on religious matters.

    In a democracy, those in the majority can create new regulations. Moderates must also acknowledge that this state of affairs has been brought upon by themselves. Their arrogance and egos resulted in the divisions that helped the conservatives get elected.

    Moderates who are still divided will possibly lose a different election at the Vancouver's Ross Street Sikh Temple if they do not bury their differences and fight against fundamentalism.

    It's important to note that the big fight against religious extremism should not just remain confined to control over temples. Moderates should try to find secular allies in the wider community to isolate forces opposed to peace and unity outside the temple boundaries. Unless fundamentalism is defeated socially and politically, no institution can be immune to religious conservatism.

    Gurpreet Singh is a Georgia Straight contributor, and the host of a program on Radio India. He's working on a book tentatively titled Canada's 9/11: Lessons from the Air India Bombings.

    http://www.straight.com/article-403...g-nonbaptized-sikhs-running-guru-nanak-temple
     

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  3. Kanwaljit Singh

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    That is interesting.

    We have a definition of moderate Sikh?
     
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  4. kds1980

    kds1980 India
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    This is ridiculous arguement.A religion don't run either on the feelings majority or Whether the majority of attendants are adhering to principle of Religion or not.

    The majority of visitors in Gurdwara Bangla sahib are Hindu's so why can't Hindu's manage Gurdwara bangla sahib?

    If tommorrow the majority of Indian Sikhs believe that Sikhism is branch of Hinduism or Radhaswami Guru is at par with Sikh Guru's so should Gurdwara managements should start installing Photo's of Radhaswami Guru's because majority feels so
     
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  5. spnadmin

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    This particular story is the continuing chapter in a long struggle for control of this sangat. Which is a pity because many proactive social programs to assist the unfortunate are being held up because of it. This past year the courts ruled the management election was legal and the "moderate" leader had to step down...which was the bone of contention. That being established as a legal victory for the "baptized Sikhs" it would be a matter of time only that further developments would surface on the political scene. There have been brickbats thrown on many issues. I am not convinced this is about baptized versus non-baptized, but rather between the established old guard and a new wave of leadership. One can go back to past threads at SPN to reconstruct the history of contention at this Gurdwara.
     
  6. Gyani Jarnail Singh

    Gyani Jarnail Singh Malaysia
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    I can just imagine the 100000 or so MAJORITY gathered at Ananadpur Sahib in 1699 objecting to Guru Gobind Singh ji giving "preferential" treatment ( New clothes etc ) to the PANJ !!! Just 5 out of 100000..and they got preferential treatment..up on stage, new clothes, Title of Panj PIAYARAS..and then the Guru Himself KNEELING BEFORE THEM...scream bloo.dy discrimination !!! How could GGS be that discriminatory..He should have been sued...Ha Ha Ha....

    and Ya Ya when the Muslims outnumber the catholics..perhaps the POPE will be from the Majority Community as well ??? Ayatollah in the Vatican ?? or perhaps Chinese President ??..since Chinese are also a Majority worthwhile counting...

    Just joking guys..applying that cranky logic of the Mona Balwant supposedly Moderate Pardhaan of Surrey gurdwara....so many such "mona moderates"a re waiting in the wings to take over their own local Gurdwaras in the name of the "majority"...
     
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  7. Harry Haller

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    Gyaniji,

    I do not think this is about Mona Vs Non Mona, I think its more about baptized Vs unbaptised.

    For the record, I happen to be in agreement with this, although the way that this has been implemented could have been done in a more gursikh way, by dealing without running to the courts. When that happens, we are saying we cannot run our own affairs, we need guidance from a non sikh body.

    If you are unbaptised and you want a say in how your Gurdwara is run, I think it is logical you should be complete in yourself before you allow yourself to have a say in Gurdwara matters.

    This is not about mona sikhs running things, it is about unbaptised sikhs.
     
  8. Gyani Jarnail Singh

    Gyani Jarnail Singh Malaysia
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    Harry Ji,
    There was an AGM attended by about 3700 sangat and the moderate group got 60 votes and the others went to the baptised group. 60 out of 3700 is very insignificant. The gurdwara has about 30,000 members...but only 13% attended this agm...out of which a show of hands passed these resolutions. Its the Moderate group that is going to court.

    The Moderates are clearly MONAS..no beards and no dastaars. Its not about Keshadharee/dastarwallahs and bearded..BUT not baptised/kirpan carrying.
    Balwant Singh doesnt even wear a temporary dastaar...just like many such types who are pardhaans or skatars in malaysian Gurdwaras...they actually FLAUNT their bareheads in Gurdwara and only feign to put on a Handkerchief ONLY IN the darbar sahib..once they step OUTSIDE the Darbar they remove the handkerchief...and of course when they face the PUBLIC during media interviews and all they appear bare-headed.

    It takes two hands to clap..i think BOTH have a chip on their shoulders...one up man ship is the name fo the game here...and the COMMUNITY SUFFERS.

    Its a FACT the "baptised" group MISUSED the Akal takhat jathedar Ranjit Singh to issue the Table chair hukmanmah to unseat the moderates balwanst singh group a few years back...THAT Hukmanmah was tailor made for the CONTROL of the SURREY GURDWARA..BUT it DIVIDED SIKHS the WORLD OVER !! So far the AT/SGPC etc have done everything to DIVIDE rather than JOIN dsm grnath, raagmala, nanakshai calendar, 1984 yaadgaar printing sggs, transporting sggs, etc etc EACH ISSUE is being sued to DIVIDE the kaum..and the SGPC is responsible...
     
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  9. spnadmin

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    It is important to remember how well organized the new guard is. The resolution, reserving top management seats for baptized Sikhs, passed because they were able to get out the vote, and the vote therefore favored the amrtidhari Sikhs. This is the same leadership that won a recent election and it was challenged by the presiding committee. Yet, again the new guard got out the amritdhari vote. The contested election also went to court. I do not know how the Gurdwara is incorporated under laws governing Gurdwaras in Canada. The amrtidhari victories to date do represent the will of the majority, .the majority of Sikhs who showed up and who voted. One does not ordinarily count votes that were not cast because members did not show up. If there was nothing quirky about the election, one would guess that a majority vote will be upheld.

    In the first appeal to the courts the judge found nothing unsavory about the election. The amridhari were the legitimate winners. They commanded a majority of votes. The "moderates," whatever that means, lost.
     
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  10. Gyani Jarnail Singh

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    a "moderate" sikh would be some one who cuts his hair/wears dastaar....trims his beard/mustaches....drinks moderately/not so moderately, doesnt do nitnem..cant or wont learn gurmukhi..so no paath etc...wouldnt be so quirky about smoking..drugs..pubs....clubbing..dating...would eat hallal/non-hallal without batting an eye....there may be various STAGES of such moderates..

    2. Simialrly the "fundamentalist" sikh may be who keeps full kesh and dastaar and wont trim his beard/may tie his beard in net..may keep it flowing free..wear the five kakaars or maybe miss out on the kirpaan...may do full nitnem or maybe miss one or two banis..may be fully vegetarian or hallal consumer...may go clubbing moderately...participate in bhanggra dancing cinema etc/may not.....again many STAGES of such "fundamentalists"

    People LOVE to attach Labels..esp the MEDIA.
     
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  11. Kanwaljit Singh

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    My cousin in sales described the current scenario in job market. Earlier people used to hire straight-out-of-school kids (this could be in 90s) for the position. Slowly as more people came in with degrees, there was demand for undergrads. Then the market trend was for people with business degree. And now in pharma sales, people want applicants who have a science degree and good sales experience. See how with time the no of required qualifications required increase. I guess it is not wrong to stop the 'level' of management from going down.

    On the other hand, I guess non-baptized/moderate Sikhs have been taking care of various Gurudwaras around the world. They have been working hard and many of them putting in their honest best. They should be encouraged to get baptized and continue in office.

    Either way, transition of any sort should be smooth. It should not be as if a wrench has been thrown into the machinery!

    Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru ji ki Fateh
     
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  12. Harry Haller

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    The way I see it, all sikhs should aspire to be keshdghari and baptised one day. I think if you are happy to go as far as you have gone, then that is of course up to the individual. I personally would not want to see someone in charge of a Gurdwara who was not still seeking enlightenment, and who could not assist me in my own path too.

    Maybe is it because there are people who want to further sikhi through Gurdwaras and there are people who want a social club for their own kind, I do not know. It does raise the question can a mona be a good pardhaan, I think the answer is yes as long as they do not push forward the notion that the kesh does not matter, or give the impression you can find complete oneness with the creator, whilst being physically unwhole.

    I think as soon as you laud the notion that you can be a complete sikh, and a mona, that it starts to become uncomfortable.
     
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  13. kds1980

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    Mona can be a good Pardhan ,but lot of Keshdhari families will find it uncomfortable to go that Gurdwara.Many Families which are trying hard to convince their children to keep kesh don't want them to see Mona Pardhan's.One day their son could come with hair cut and say "Relax mom these days even Pardhan's don't keep hair why should we be?" then what answer will his parents give
     
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  14. Harry Haller

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    I actually agree with you, kdsji, but whilst we as adults expect free range in our search for the divine, its ironic that we still treat our children with misinformation. I think you have an absolutely valid point, similar to one that findingmywayji raised about the drink argument, which is, its all very well being a moderate in these matters, but how do you encourage and motivate other sikhs, whilst at the same time following, what amounts to, your own personal interpretation of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. I have to concede that if you are going to stand on a pedestal, any pedestal, than you have to be aware that you are also making yourself a role model, and have no option but to act in accordance with the tenants as laid out, to the best of your abilities. Otherwise you risk validating your mona-ness, or your drinking, or whatever else you have moderate opinions on, to our young, some of whom, I have to say, are not equipped at that age with the ability to see exactly what hair and non drinking is so important.

    btw, kdsji, err are you male?
     
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  15. kds1980

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    Harry ji

    On uncut hair there are 2 views in Sikhism

    1) The dominant view upto 90s was that In order to be a Sikh the first step is to keep uncut hair or wear turban.everything comes after that
    This view was so strong in Sikhism that even the communists in Punjab did not abandon Turban or kesh despite being Atheists.Harkishan singh surjeet was one of such type of communist leader of India

    2) You first become a role model type sikh and then wear turban and keep hair
    this view mostly get popularity from 90s

    Now your view is the second one.To be frank I don't have problem with this
    but with this type of view just expect 95 to 99 % of young Sikhs cutting their hair and for the rest Life become very difficult in entire world as in most places of world all rights of wearing turban will be stripped.Everybody will say that if my 9 out of 10 sikh workers don't wear turban then why are you demanding privilage to wear turban and beard just get of rid of it or get fired

    As far me being male is concerned just read my name which is written below my ID and Guess who I am ?
     
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  16. Harry Haller

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    Kdsji,

    I only have the second view because that is where I am now, if I knew then what I know now, I would never have cut my hair, period.

    In hindsight, if I had children of my own, I would make sure they understood exactly how lucky they were to be born into a faith such as sikhism, and educate them not in the ritualistic and traditional, but the philosophical. This is not as easy as it sounds, I am aware of that, my parents did try with me, but in the end, my bloodlust was so strong, they just had to sit back and wait till I had got it out of my system.

    I would say that if you are already wearing a turban, and your only issue is you can be the same sikh without a turban, then that is rubbish. You will be putting yourself back years in the process. If however you have no interest in god, philosophy and the merging of your spirit, and sikhism is more of a social club, then that is a different matter.

    When you are a turbaned sikh, cutting your hair is a statement of non belief, there are no other reasons for it, surely only a fool would say, well, I do believe in this, but its holding me back, believe me, its not holding you back as much as that lost connection which will follow.

    So for new recruits, yes, number 2, or for those who became fallen. For present sikhs, a complete lack of belief is the only acceptable excuse.

    I have to say that upto the age of 28 I wore my turban with pride, and never ever had any issues with it whatsoever, and my antics took me to many places, good and bad. I do not think the world will end up as bad as you think, but I can understand your sentiments.

    pah, means nothing, Chitra Singh was a woman!
     
  17. kds1980

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    No there could be other reasons for cutting hair ,like if you a farmer in Punjab and your entire family in debt and you get good job offer but in order to get that job you have to cut your hair then what? I know many people will say that he lacks faith but in times when you see financial crisis then your mind is in different zone so may be his faith is much more than others but for money he has to cut his hair even if his faith is much more than other turbaned sikhs

    As far Chitra is concerned I think you don't know that Chitra is very famous Hindu feminine name.BTW I am Male
     
  18. Harry Haller

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    kdsji,

    firstly which of the two views do you subscribe to, and secondly, excuse my ignorance, but which job would mean you would have to cut your hair?
     
  19. kds1980

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    To be frank I don't myself know which view I adhere both views have their flaws

    As far cutting hair for job is concerned if I am not wrong some agents in Punjab do ask Sikhs to remove turbans in order to get jobs outside India where many employers may not be ready to accept turbaned sikhs
     
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  20. Harry Haller

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    I cut my hair as I had no faith, simple as that, at the time it did not bother me in the slightest, it was an acknowledgement of the pit I was in at that time, and there were more important urgent things to concern myself with.

    I personally would not have cut my hair if my faith was still intact, regardless of what problems I was facing, on the basis that faith is a huge weapon for despair, and I feel that in those circumstances you would hang on to everything you had that was faith related.

    I have some difficulty accepting that some employers will not employ turbaned men
     
  21. BhagatSingh

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    Wah!

    The return of Kd Baba ji. wahmunda
     

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