Sikh scripture celebrated 2,000 gather to listen, learn... many eager to hear it in English RITA DALY STAFF REPORTER When Harjit Sunner's 5-year-old daughter came home from her Mississauga school following a celebration of the Chinese New Year, she asked her mom: "Are we Chinese?" Taken aback at first, her mother gently replied that no, the family was Sikh. "She said `What's that?' That's when I thought we'd better start finding out more for ourselves," Sunner explained Sunner, her husband and their two small children were among more than 2,000 people, mostly Sikhs, who yesterday headed to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the compilation of the holy Sikh scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib. For first-generation Sikhs in Canada like the Sunners, it was an opportunity to learn more about their religion and to hear English translations by Sikh scholars of the holy teachings, which in the temples are often recited in Punjabi and written in Gurmukhi script. "I came here in 1972 (at age 4) and learned English before my native language," said Paul Sunner. "Now as I'm older and have children of my own, I want to learn more about my faith." A group of teenagers who arrived from Cambridge on a bus organized by their temple were eager to hear some of the stories in the scriptures in English because "we don't know exactly what it means," said 14-year-old Amritpal Kaur Cheena. Amritpal Singh, an 18-year-old economics student at Wilfrid Laurier University, said he came because he doesn't understand Punjabi enough to comprehend the scripture. "This is a lot easier to understand and I came basically to learn more." Yesterday's event coincided with celebrations in India and followed an earlier event marking the 400th anniversary: the sacred arrival in Toronto this spring of 149 volumes of scripture. The books were flown with great ceremony from the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the only place in the world where the scriptures are officially published. The Guru Granth Sahibs were distributed to local temples and individual homes. The Sikh scripture, which teaches peace, respect, humility and honest living, is unusual in that it also contains poetry and devotional hymns from Islam and Hinduism, the dominant religions in India when the Sikh faith evolved. "It's like a universal religion for the whole world," said Gobinder Singh, chair of the Ontario Sikhs and Gurdwara Council, which organized yesterday's event.