Letter From Australia By Gurfateh Phil Singh


Letter From Australia
by Gurfateh Phil Singh

You may be interested in my decision to become a Sikh. I embrace the Sikh viewpoint because it holds that all faiths have value and that service in all forms is a celebration of the unity and strength of humankind.

Sikhs view everyone as equal and their worship is part of this view. For a Sikh honest work is a form of worship. If they are honest and help others day-to-day they are following the Guru's teachings. Sikhs do not have a god as such, but the Ultimate Reality, which is the universal force of everything. The idea is really much the same, and the term 'God' and the 'Ultimate Reality' is interchangeable. It is the message that's important, not the semantics.

You may not know what brought me into Sikhism. It was a process that took many years. As a teenager I read a book, The Changes, that had Sikhs in it, they were like the knights of old. Men and women who did what was right, helped those they could, worked hard, and fought for justice. Their honesty was uncompromising. Then I came to know of Sikh writers and read of their wisdom. I then met some Sikhs and learned more. I was inspired by Mystical Traveller by Dya Singh (audio) and The Four Quarters of the Night (The Life-Journey of an Emigrant Sikh) by Tara Singh Bains and Hugh Johnston (text). I went to India twice and discovered more of the nature of Sikhi. When I returned, Yanee Singh Jr. died in a car accident in Greece.

Yanee always said that life is too short. I realised that my mate was right and I followed my heart and embraced the Guru's teachings.

There is a great tradition of poetry and music in Sikhism. It is a joyous faith, filled with friendships and a love of life. Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy book, is composed of the lyrical works of the Gurus', along with works from poet-saints of Hindu and Islamic heritage.

Australian Sikhs

Early Sikh migrants came here to pre-Federation Australia as free settlers when there was no restrictive immigration policy. They were adventurist male sojoumers who left their family behind and came to make their fortune. Some of them did return, but the majority developed a love for Australia and its people and remained to lay the foundations for the Australian Sikh community.


The early Arcadian settlers came from the farming community of Punjab and settled in Northern Rivers of New South Wales and North Queensland, where they led austere and frugal lives and faced many hardships.

But for the welcome, tolerance and encouragement of Australians, establishment of Sikhs in Australia would not have been possible. There are anecdotes of the host community assisting Sikh migrants in business, financial affairs, correspondence and encouragement to maintain their culture and religion. In fact there were three members of the host community on the committee, which built the First Sikh Temple of Australia in Woolgoolga.

The descendants of those early rustic migrants have been fortunate in acquiring secondary and tertiary education in Australia. Consequently, today amongst the Sikh community we have solicitors, teachers, doctors, engineers, town planners, accountants and policemen.

Sikh migrants have integrated into the host community and have contributed to local economy. By maintaining their culture, religion and heritage Sikhs have added to the ethnic and cultural diversity of Australia, thereby helping it develop a unique and distinctive multicultural character.

We are grateful to our forefathers who chose to make their home in Australia where there is personal, political, religious freedom, social and cultural equality. We are proud and honoured to be Australians. We are thankful for the privileges that we have enjoyed as Australians and we will fulfil our obligations with great enthusiasm. We will endeavour to make Sikh community a paragon of multicultural Australia.

My Turban

Becoming a Sikh is all about coming to embrace Sikh values of community, justice, and practicality. I came to embrace Sikhism because it holds that all people and all faiths have value. The life of a Sikh is one of service cheerfully rendered unto others and is a celebration of the unity and strength of humanity.

All of life is a spiritual journey. You may embrace this and better yourself or you may ignore it. But the journey is on, whether we like it or not, so make the most of your brief time upon the stage that is the world.

W. Owen Cole expressed the joys of knowing the Sikh path well when he said,

Those who wish to go further must, as I do, walk with Sikhs and enjoy their sorrows and joys. If this publication has helped a single reader to embark upon the experiences and friendships that I have had, or to respect the faith that is held by followers of the Gurus, or merely to understand it, then it will have succeeded in its purpose.

When wearing the turban, I feel like a knight of old, it is both a symbol of what I am and is armour against evils. I can say with pride:

I am a Sikh. This is my turban. It is a symbol of my faith and religious life. There are hundreds of years of service and tradition bound within this fabric. The turban of a Sikh is both a crown of honour and a guard against injustice. I am most proud and privileged to wear such a raiment. Proud of my heritage and willing to let the world know.

The authors thanks Dr. A. More, Mr. Mon Singh and Dr. Sardool Singh for historical material included.

Photo Credit:
Gurdwara at Woolggolga and Opening Ceremony - Global Village Group, Inc.


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