• Welcome to all New Sikh Philosophy Network Forums!
    Explore Sikh Sikhi Sikhism...
    Sign up Log in

Canada Young Sikh Activists Seek To Lead Popular Vancouver Temple

Jan 6, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Young Sikh activists seek to lead popular Vancouver temple


Robert Matas – THE GOLBE AND MAIL Vancouver — From Friday's Globe and Mail

A new generation of activists in the Sikh community who have taken over leadership positions at temples in the Vancouver suburbs of Surrey and New Westminster have now set their sights on one of the most popular and oldest temples in the city, Vancouver’s Ross Street Gurdwara.

However, members of Sikh Youth Vancouver dismiss allegations that they intend to bring the so-called fundamentalist approach to the temple, which has modified its practices over the years as its congregants have assimilated with North American society. Spokesman Jatinder Singh says the group aims to maintain the current religious orientation of the temple if they succeed in winning seats on its new executive later this year.

Sikh Youth Vancouver is not promoting changes in religious practices at the temple, Mr. Singh said in an interview. “We are not religiously distinct from the group that is there. There is no fundamental argument counter to their position on religious interpretations,” he said.

“That is just not our thing,” he said. “Trying to label an opposing slate as fundamentalist purely because they are opposing you is old school politics, the politics of the last millennium. We’re in 2010 now.”

A B.C. Supreme Court judge earlier this week decided that the temple’s membership process in preparation for a fall election at the temple was flawed. He invalidated thousands of memberships and ordered an independent third-party administrator to oversee new membership registration and a subsequent election. The administrator is to be appointed by agreement of the two sides in the dispute.

Mr. Singh, who is 42, said Sikh Youth Vancouver aims to modernize the temple and encourage members to become more involved in local community events. He criticized the current temple management, saying it provides weak e-mail access, no social networking and no community outreach programs.

Kesar Bhatti, senior vice-president of the Khalsa Diwan Society, which runs the temple, told Canadian Press that Sikh Youth Vancouver was recently formed as part of the battle to control the temple. “We don’t recognize any such group,” he said.

He maintained that the complainants in the court case were part of an effort by fundamentalists to take over the moderate temple, which the society has operated since 1906. “They have become members a few months ago because they wanted to fight the elections,” said Mr. Bhatti. “They go to other gurdwaras [temples], so-called fundamentalists.”

Mr. Bhatti, who is 79 years old, said the issue goes back to divisions in B.C.’s Sikh community more than a decade ago over whether people eating meals in temple halls should sit on tables and chairs or on mats on the floor. “They want to do the same thing here,” he said. “I would say this is basically a fundamentalists versus moderates fight, carrying over from the last 10, 12 years.”

The tables and chairs edict was issued in Amritsar, India, home to the Golden Temple, Sikhism's holiest shrine, leading to friction at some B.C. temples, which got rid of furniture in the dining halls where three meals a day are typically served to anyone who walks in. “We have not accepted that and we maintain that meals will be served on tables, and chairs,” Mr. Bhatti said. “It’s got nothing to do with religion, and I refuse to sit on the floor.”

source: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/british-columbia/young-sikh-activists-seek-to-lead-popular-vancouver-temple/article1694319/