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Wheelchair Not Allowed In Gurdwaras?

Discussion in 'Hard Talk' started by Kismet K, Feb 25, 2011.

  1. Kismet K

    Kismet K
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    Recently ,i attended a family Akhand Path at Gurdwara Naank Parkash -Harnall Lane coventry. i was shocked to see a bright bold sign outside of the main prayer hall saying "WHEELCHAIR NOT ALLOWED " i found this sign very upsetting and disturbing, let me explain , i am a independant wheelchair user, and have been since i sustained a spinal cord injury following a road traffic accident. The same signs are also seen at Sedgley Street Gurdwara in WOLVERHAMPTON, uk

    so whilst everything is done to make the UK gurdwara up and down the country all accessible for wheelchair users , i find we are barred from entering the main prayer halls ! Why ? i cant see any religious justification for this policy. I totally understand that i use my wheelchair indoors and outdoors and if my tyres are dirty i would take personal responsiblity to clean them before entering the prayer halls, but if this is the reason, then why are walking sticks allowed ? they too are used outside.

    Where people dont have any chice why should they be banned from entering the prayer halls in their wheelchairs and paying their respects like any othre person. i dont feel that pysically carrying someone is practical, i would not allow this and would also find it totally upsetting and embarrasing and in any case i often go alone.

    I visit my local Gurdwara and have always been made to feel welcome and have never had any restrictions from accessing any area i want, so why do the minority of Gurdwara have such discrimantory signs?

    "Mein kayi vaar sochaa, ki je apne 10 Gurus wichon koi ik vi ajj hunde, taan ki Oh wheelchaired insaan nu milan ton inkaar kar dinde? ....Nahin!!! Balke Ohna ne aap bhajj ke os insaan nu galley lagaa leina si.....

    what do you think, and how do i go about requesting these Gurdwara to think about the upset these signs cause and if they are REALLY necessary.
    if any Sikh comiitee members are reading this i would be grateful if they could take this issue up

    let me finish by saying that what ever happended to me can happen to anyone, how would you feel if suddenly you find not only do you have to adapt to a new life but even a place of worship will ban you! i have always admired Sikhism for treating everyone as equals and for welcoming and embracing anyone who should enter the Gurdwara.

    I Know that im not alone in coming across these problems see http://www.sikhsentinel.com/sikhsentinel0303/disabilitydiscrimination.htm

    i also fully appreciate that no human being should be seated above Guru Ji level but Guru Ji would understand that if someone was seated in their wheelchir its not because they are being disrespectful , its because they may have no choice, and whilst i could pray anywhere , should be barred from attendting close famliy weddings or any other religiuos functions?
     

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  3. a.mother

    a.mother Canada
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    Re: Wheelchair Not Allowed

    Kismetk ji, I am really sorry to hear about your health reason and also for wheelchair problem and above that you make me cry with your words "Mein kayi vaar sochaa, ki je apne 10 Gurus wichon koi ik vi ajj hunde, taan ki Oh wheelchaired insaan nu milan ton inkaar kar dinde? ....Nahin!!! Balke Ohna ne aap bhajj ke os insaan nu galley lagaa leina si.....

    I think Kismetk ji usually the problem is with cleaning part what usually which I heard. For that reason each gurughar can provide their own wheelchairs those always stay inside. And for the walking sticks you know some time we just don't realize what we are doing it they could be dirty to but chances are really less but still we cann't ignore it too.
    And visiting Gurughar every body's right even if they are on wheelchair or any TAKHAT DA RAJA. That is my understanding.
     
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  4. CaramelChocolate

    CaramelChocolate
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    Sat Sri Akaal,

    Outrage.
    That's exactly what I felt when I read your post. Such policy not only breaks modern ideas of equality and equality laws in Britain, but also completely contradicts EVERYTHING that Sikhism stands for. Such a policy is no different to having a sign which says 'no blacks allowed'.
    'Cleanliness' is no excuse for discrimination. When shoes are taken off in the Gurdwara, almost everyone's socks will have stepped on an area where shoes have walked and therefore the bottom of the sock will be carrying some kind of 'dirt' into the Gurdwara anyway.
    The uncleanliness of a soul that bars someone from coming closer to Guruji is much greater than that of the filth on one's wheelchair wheels, shoes or socks.

    Now onto the practical side of things. It is the duty of every Sikh and every righteous minded person to condemn this.
    My advice would be:
    + Try to arrange for a photograph of this sign to be taken for reference. Keep it safe.
    + Arrange for a talk with the representatives of these Gurdwaras. If possible, covertly audio record it. If they do not agree to change their policy after you have explained to them the Sikh approach, then:
    + Mention to them that they are in BREACH of the LAW. The Equality Act 2010 stipulates that this is clearly unlawful, and does include places of worship. (Also see, the Disability Equality Duty)

    If this still does not work, as a last resort I would recommend legal action (you already have your evidence from before - photo, audio recording). This may seem harsh, but remember this act does not only affect you. This affects community unity, this affects your RIGHT and the rights of generations following you to have access to Guru Granth Sahib. Imagine if a wheelchair person was poor and never had access to Gurbani. Imagine if a wheelchair person was non-Sikh. Imagine the people that would never be able to hear EVEN ONE HOLY LINE OF GURBANI, just because of anti-gurmat bigatory.

    Here is a link for your reference, and please keep us updated with your story.

    http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/DisabledPeople/RightsAndObligations/DisabilityRights/DG_4001068
    http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/DisabledPeople/Everydaylifeandaccess/Everydayaccess/DG_4018353
     
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    #3 CaramelChocolate, Feb 26, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2011
  5. Mai Harinder Kaur

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    This is extremely disturbing. Darbar Sahib hall must be available for anyone who wants to go in. a.mother's suggestion of gurudwaras having "indoor only" wheelchairs is a good one. I can't offhand think of another solution. The only other possibility is to have sewadars thoroughly wash the wheels as the chair comes into the shoes-off area. I use a cane and someone always graciously and (usually) with a smile cleans the bottom of it.
     
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  6. Archived_Member16

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    <TABLE dir=ltr border=0 cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=5 width=936><TBODY><TR><TD bgColor=#c0c0c0>Author: Jarnail Singh Gyani "Arshi"
    Date: 04-21-05 10:43

    Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji ki fateh.

    Dear Premi Jio,

    imho...no problems with accomodating disable persons in a Gurdwara...we should be proud of them in the sense that instead of sitting at home and feeling sorry for themselves...and moping around "cursing" God and others for their disability...they take the trouble to come to Gurdawra, have sangat of Gursikhs and participate in the Guru darbar.

    The Committees who have "trouble" with these people are usually the ones who have "no problems" with the ghona monahs etc serving in their gurdwaras because of money contributions...but no no to wheelchairs because they "offend" Guru Ji due to sitting on chair which is against Maryada !!! They are pretty selective about where to apply their scanty knowledge of maryada....in one gurdwara i know wheelchairs were a no no..until a rich lady in a wheelchair started coming....and lo and behold the gurdwara committee had a ramp installed ( and not one but THREE ramps in different parts !!)...its pretty obvious the wheelchair lady contributed a hefty sum to their goluk... so lets not be so materialistic. The injunctions in the Sikh Rehat maryada aginst gadellas and pillows and special seating arrangements were meant to STOP certain SANTS/BEDIS/SODHIS etc ec from doing this in Gurdwaras...who were doing this deliberately to show their special status in the sangat..... this provision was never meant to chase out disabled persons.

    Jarnail Singh



    </TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
    source:
    http://www.tapoban.org/phorum/read.php?f=1&i=35507&t=34418
     
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  7. ssira

    ssira
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    Kismat Kaur. If you are a true Sikh I don’t think so you should be talking against Sikhism, that they won’t help. Instead of asking to take your wheel chair in side Darbar Sahib asks someone to take you in without wheel chair. I bet you there will be hundreds of volunteers (Male or Female) to help you. If you understand that it is disrespectful to sit high in front of Guru Sahib what makes to think that guru will give you permission to sit high. You people make the devotee Sikh, sicker than you are sick yourself. Go in front of Guru Sahib and ask for better health than asking to go in on wheel chair. Think about Mata Ganga Ji going to Baba Budha Ji on a Rath and what happened? Don’t you learn something from history how to go to Guru Sahib? These websites just want to attract advertisement for wheel chair so they can make money from topic like this. They give damn about Sikhism reputation. Lack of true Sikhism knowledge brings this topic here. It is the most peaceful as well as the toughest religion. Follow it or not is entirely up to you. Learn how to walk on a sword.
    I am sick to read the comment about 'no blacks allowed'. What a twist to the topic. Can’t say the word publically for these kinds of people. How dare they say like this when Sikhism is open to every single human in the world? It was started to bring the equality. You are not prohibited your wheel chair is.
     
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  8. Mai Harinder Kaur

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    People don't realise how easily these things could happen to them. One night I was perfectly able to do everything physically. That night I had a stroke. Now 5 years later, I have recovered much function, but the doctors dint expect me ever to be able to walk again.

    I cannot matha tek or get to the floor to sit or get up from the floor without the help of several strong people.

    This can happen to anyone. I wonder if it'll take it to happen to gurudwara committee members before they wake up.
     
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  9. CaramelChocolate

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    No offence intended, but I felt this post was rather wishy-washy.
    All types of discrimination are wrong. Did you even read my post properly? Barring ANY minority from a Gurdwara is equally wrong.
    Barring blacks/afro-carribbean - wrong
    Barring wheelchair users - wrong
    Barring anyone - WRONG!

    I would strongly advise you not to engage in insults towards myself in public, and reveal that you have a word 'for people like me' that you cannot say in public. This is a discussion forum and I will say what I please as long as I do not engage in personal insults/remarks - please learn to do the same.
    Guru rejects no one. Remember that.

    And by the way Kismat has said NOTHING against Sikhism. She is criticising (and me) the discriminatory attitude prevalent within some Gurdwaras. Allow her to speak out against injustice - this is what Sikhism is all about.
     
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  10. spnadmin

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    It seems that a lot has happened since I last logged on. I would add to the comments of CaramelChocolate ji. sirsa ji, your remarks are completely uncalled for and represent a back-of-your hand slap to the thread starter who has only asked a question and a legitimate one at that.

    Consider this a formal warning
    . I would delete your remarks on sight except that Caramel Chocolate has eloquently refuted you, but quoted your text. So to delete your comments would require that I edit his.

    Keep you negativity in check, and your conspiracy theories and prejudices to yourself
     
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  11. Seeker9

    Seeker9 United Kingdom
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    A hypothetical question here and forgive me if it is naive ....

    Do you think any of the Ten Gurus would turn away someone in a wheelchair?

    Is SGGS the current Guru?

    When people follow rules blindly without understanding, then problems like this occur

    Ssira Ji - I was completely appalled by your ignorant comment; you should be ashamed of yourself
     
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  12. Dr. Harbhajan Singh Seth

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    I will simply say that "SHAME TO THE MANAGEMENT OF" this Gurdwara Sahib who have put this disgusting sign. It is totally against sikhism.
     
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  13. a.mother

    a.mother Canada
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    What I feel, talk to the gurughar's management then see. Indoors wheelchairs are the very good solutions, in Canada many gurughar have this lower place those are easy to go with wheelchairs,and lower place sangat is more comfortable if this kind of situation (or breast feeding mothers who feel comfortable there),other wise on the same level for me its ok too if there is no down level. I think we don't need to irritate that much Guruji never teach this, its some people and I don't know their reason. Be practical and talk to them. And for canes too they can be for indoor one,leave the own with coats or near to shoes area problem is solved. Guru Sahib ji them self they never did ooch-neech, kala gora,hindu-muslim,cchota badda or amir-garib healthy-sick,how could they be happy with this.
     
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  14. Chaan Pardesi

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    This is very disturbing indeed.A simple solution is for Gurduaras to invest in one or two wheel chairs that can be used only within the darbar sahib.This will save the members from going through the rigmor of washing the wheels themselves with crowds around and often washing facilities not convenient....Unfortunately , it seems none of our parbandhaks are far sighted or of innovative vision except to quickly put bars and restrictions on people.It is amazing how these Gurduaras are quick to take sides with politics of the Akal Takhat but not prepared to carry out actions that are humane and disabled friendly.



    I condemn such actions of parbandhaks where there are notices that say wheel chairs are banned- I wonder what would happen if they, one day are wheel chair bound themselves?

    In UK, such notices are clear acts of discrimination against the disabled.They should be reported to the Equality Commission.I would urge all sensible Gurduara Parbandhaks to take down such silly boards.

    The Sikh Gurus and religion does not teach such inhuman acts against any person who is disabled.Shame,such Gurduara parbandhaks claim to be guardians of Gurduaras, when they have no iota of sensitivity towards the needy.I deeply empathise with Bibi Kismet Kaur Ji; and hope Guru Ji forgives those who hurt the sentiments of people who are wheel chair bound, I would find hard to forgive such people.

    Recently, I had a similar run in with Gurduara officials, who had agreed in the sangat, to install a lift to a three storey Gurduara,in a joint effort with me and the collection from sangat but then renegaded, suggesting I put up the lift myself; but also hand in the money that I hoped to donate to them!

    On questioning, they beat about the bush and hid behind the Gurduara, sangat and committee suggesting everything can be settled face to face; but not answered a single question of mine put on the net.Funny, even the governments of western countries are run via emails, but parbandhaks of a Gurduara cannot answer simple questions asked of them through an open email, because I guess I caught them with their pants down in their effort to scrounge monies and carry on their doodle doo as they like.

    I wonder, how one day when they are old, they intend to climb the three storey Gurduara, that has no lift.

    May Guru Bless you Bibi Kismet kaur Ji, I am with you on this.
     
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  15. Gyani Jarnail Singh

    Gyani Jarnail Singh Malaysia
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    I have a fleeting suspicion that all such discriminatory actions and anti-Maryada and anti-gurbani, anti-human acts of Gurdawara committees are getting more often and common. IN Punjab gurdawras i saw so many instances of anti-human behaviour of sewadaars..like shouting at supposedly low caste people, bhaiyahs, dark looking people, pushing them away...treating them like dirt, when in actual fact Guru ka langgars are for these people and NOT the Fat Cats rich So called Sikhs who are already overfed. I had sat down myself in a pangat and a poorly dressed woman came and sat down beside me and she already kept her distance as she left a space of about two persons..still the daal sewadaars who came first glared at her and gestured at her with his karrchhee to move away from sardar ji...i was so embarrassed...and these same high class sikhs were pushing and shoving like a mob out of control in order to grab Ganddah parshaad at Gurdawara baba budha ji bir...no ques..no patience..no self control ???
    Right thinking Sikhs have to take control and assert their rights. WHEELCHAIRS and Benches for elderly have nothing against the Maryada restriction that mentions Gaddah.daree....special seating arrangements in Darbar Sahibs are to STOP self importnat/self glorifying sikhs who regard themsleves as higher than ordinary sikhs from seeking special seating arrangements. People like Sir khem Singh bedi a descendat of Guru nanak ji used to sit on a special daree/carpet with a Gaddah and all as he felt he being Guru descendant had this right...the Maryada article against such arrangemnets is specifically for that type of situation...NOT against disabled persons who have NO CHOICE in their situation. Blanket bans against such disabled facilities should be fought and rescinded. These give us a Bad Name and push us backwards to Dark Ages.

    2. I am also aware of the incident that GS (Chan Pardesi) mentions. Its an utter disgrace that such persons are running our Gurdawras. They are not fit even to run their own families..much less lead the sangats. Seems like we are scrapping the barrel for people to run our gurdwaras.
     
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  16. Dr. Harbhajan Singh Seth

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    I Dr. Harbhajan Singh Seth cent percent agree with Gyani Jarnail singh ji. Let Gurumaharaj ji bestow some sense to all of us, Sikhs. This is my Ardas!
     
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  17. anders

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    If legitimate, there should have been an accompanying explanation. A not entirely impossible explanation might be that the premises unfortunately are built in a way that for practical/legal/insurance reasons makes wheelchair access difficult or even dangerous.

    In such a case, there should be immediate discussions on how to provide reliable and secure access.

    I haven't the time to go through my photos right now, but I remember several flights of stairs from many a Delhi Gurdwara. Despite having had two strokes, I am too fit to have had to look for alternative entrances/exits, but it would be quite interesting to make a thorough accessibility survey. What about mailing a questionary to all (known) Gurdwaras?
     
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  18. CaramelChocolate

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    I think this whole problem is part of a wider issue. I think that Gurdwaras are in need of a reform. Their should be a basic retainment of the program and basic rules - i.e. Guru Granth Sahib Ji may only be read to others by an Amritdhari etc. But the following should be done:

    A - Translation should be done for ALL kirtan/paath on a screen in the Gurdwara. This would not only benefit those that are new to Sikhism and those unfamilar with pre-modern Punjabi, but also those that are deaf.
    B - A welcoming and encouragement for people of all cultures and backgrounds to visit the Gurdwara. There is plenty of historical evidence to suggest that the Gurdwara was visited as a place of spirituality for people of all faiths and none, and the Gurdwara should be promoted as such to all. It does not have to be about proselytising or promoting Sikhism in order to do this.
    C - Adequete accomodation for those with disabilities.
    D - Maintaining the simplicity of a Gurdwara and removing any cultural influences. For example, langar should always be simple food from any culture, not just Punjabi food.
    E - Promoting amrit and kesh etc. whilst not judging and condemning those who do cut their hair - remember we even have writings of those who cut their hair in SGGS.

    Rather than building Gurdwaras with Golden domes and making them so huge when most of the time it ends up feeling empty, money could be better spent implimenting the above.

    As you all probably know, I am not from a Sikh family, so I hope no one finds my comments here offensive. I see truth in beauty in SGGS and Sikhism but it seems that it is the religion that is dying the fastest, on one hand there is a hardcore element which seems to focus on appearance and rituals (i.e. reciting paath without contemplating on it's meaning) whilst forgetting the diverse history of the history in Sikhi, and another side that has gone completely the other way - cutting hair, drinking.
    I apologise for the judgementalism here. I am FAR from perfect - I just wanted to list my concerns.
     
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  19. Astroboy

    Astroboy Malaysia
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    Imagine someone on wheelchair reading Gurbani verse on page 809 and after that wants to have satsang at the Gurdwara, but is stopped by Management and treated like an unwanted freak. So we aren't practicing Sikhi in a Sikh Temple. What are we practicing then?

    The verse:
    Pingul Parbat Par Parey, .....
    ..... Mahima sadhu sang ki......

    Maybe the wheelchair people should go and see a living sadhu because that's what Gurbani says - Mahima Sandhu Sang Ki......

    Gurbani is the way shower and is telling you to go and have a sandhu's sangat.
     
  20. Kismet K

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    Ssira Ji ,
    I too found you comments completeley ignorant, normally i wouldnt waste my time trying to justify my intentions to someone who i think will always see the wheelchair rather than the person in it! If this website is just about making money why are you wasting your time on it?
    firstly being a paraplegic is not a sickness! i have worked full time since my injury and frankly my sickness record is better than most. The only time i have regrets about my situation is when i come across such narrow minded bigots who cant see past the wheelchair.
    Most people have taken the time to read my post and have understood and interpreted it in the manner to was meant to be, its about raising awareness , so that people who are responsible at setting these bans think about the effect of their ban on allowing wheelchairs inside of the main prayer halls. There was no direct criticism on sikhism.
    I have no doubt that there would be people willing to help, but you have no understanding or concept of how a person would feel being carried in like a sack of potatoes (pardon the simile ) .
     
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  21. findingmyway

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    I wonder whether having indoor wheelchairs is such a viable option as changing wheelchairs can be difficult and embarrassing in some situations. People also become accustomed to their own chair and are able to move around in it easily. Adapting to a new chair will not be easy, especially if it is not well maintained or the wheels have a different resistance, manual vs electric control etc. Some wheelchairs also have modifications to help the particular person, eg a head rest for someone who has cerebral palsy.

    Kismet K ji and other wheelchair users, do you think the solution mentioned by some of specific indoor wheelchairs belonging to the Gurdwara is a workable solution?

    P.S. all public buildings in the UK have to have access for disabled users so problems with buildings is not a valid reason in the UK. However, India and other countries do not have the disability discrimination act 1995 (recently amended so the name might have changed).
     
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    #20 findingmyway, Mar 2, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2011

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