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Newsletter 2012 Aug Oct 51 a4

Newsletter 2012 Aug Oct 51 a4

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Highlights

The Newsletter of the Central Sikh Gurdwara Board

President’s Desk
The renovation and upgrading of the Central Sikh Temple is now almost complete, and the Board sincerely thanks the Sangat for their generous donations to pay for the upgrading works. From the beginning of this year, the Board increased its focus on teaching Sikhi and Gurmat Sangeet. An additional Sikhi teacher was recruited in December 2011 and started Sikhi classes at the Central Sikh Temple. He has been well received and the Sikhi classes are well attended. An additional Gurmat Sangeet teacher arrived in August 2012 and started classes at the Central Sikh Temple the following month. The Board has subscribed to a course developed for children (5 to 11 years) by the Texas based Sikh Research Institute. About 20 teachers have received training and a pilot project with 60 children was launched in August this year. The full program will be rolled out In January 2013. This year also saw a substantial increase in the number of students attending tuition classes. The expansion of programs for adults and children has put constraints on classroom space, both at the Sikh Centre and the Central Sikh Temple. The Board may need to work in collaboration with other Gurdwaras to allow the use of their space to conduct some courses especially over the weekends. The Sangat can look forward to specially organized programs to celebrate Guru Gaddi Day in October and the Birthday of Guru Nanak Sahib in November.

Issue No : 52

Sept/Nov 2012

Inside this issue
 Sojhi (Sikhi for Children)  Bhai Manbir Singh  Art and Craft classes  Community visits  Donations to the Sikh Centre Library  Guru Nanak Sahib's four most significant blessings  Bhai Maharaj Singh’s 156th Barsi Celebrations  Condolence prayers held at the Central Sikh Temple  IRCC @ Heartlands  Tuition classes

Sikh Marriage
In the last issue, both Jasmine’s and Jaswinder’s (Jas) families had completed the reading of the Guru Granth Sahib and were going to get down to wedding plans……. Presents for everyone? “Gurpreet, where did you shop for your wedding?” Jasmine’s mum asks her niece. “I heard Ipoh and KL have good stuff to offer too. We may not have to go to Delhi or Mumbai after all.” The ladies were excitedly making shopping plans. Jasmine had just met Jas’ mum who had given her an envelope to be passed on to her own mum. She ignored the excited ladies seated in the living room and headed straight to Dadaji’s room. “Dadaji, can I speak with you?” the teary eyed girl sobbed. The contents of the envelope looked like a shopping demand for an incredible 90-odd items. “… gold karas, rings, chains, bangles, …… for mother, ……..” the list went on and on and on. Every remote relative was to be given something. Her tears had reduced some words to mere splotches.

Are Your Personal Particulars Up To Date?
Please help us to ensure that you receive communication from us in good time and that is correctly addressed to you. You can update your personal particulars (mailing and email addresses, home and mobile telephone numbers) by sending us an email to raj@sikhs.org.sg or calling us at 63272004/5.

Page 2

Central Sikh Gurdwara Board Highlights

“Dadaji, I thought our Gurus had made life so simple for Sikhs. Is a marriage about the union of 2 people or just a business transactioni? Am I their 4D number? Where is their dharam di kirat in this? This is daylight robbery! The price of gold is more than $60 per gram! We will have to work forever to buy these gifts for them! I remember you mentioning once that a kara alone costs more than $2000! Are they treating us, the girl’s side as inferior ii? Should mummy make a list for her too?” she cried defiantly through sniffles. With a comforting hug, he said, “You are absolutely right betaa, sometimes people do things dekha dekhi and are strongly influenced by what they see on television and films as well. Many become the prey of lobh (greed) and ahankar (ego). Guruji advises us to tame these monsters.” “What does Guruji say about dowry, Dadaji?” Jasmine knew her grandfather was a walking encyclopedia on the Gurbani. “There are two sides to dowry or daaj – the gifts a bride’s family gives her voluntarily, and the gifts the groom’s family demands,” Dadaji explained. “Guru Ramdas says that any dowry other than divinity and virtue is just worthless display and false egotismiii. Guruji tells us that we should only ask for naam as dowryiv. However, many a time, the girl’s side wants to show how much they are giving their daughter”. “Yes, I remember learning an idiom at Punjabi school too - where the daughter raises the importance of education rather than jewellery as a wedding gift,v” said Jasmine thoughtfully. Dadaji continued, “The boy’s side’s greed monster displays itself too. That’s why Guru Arjan cautions us of greed and the pain it causes, and says, “O ignorant mortals! Renounce greed; greed only brings pain.vi”And Guru Ramdas advises us to beg only at His door, not from others when He says, “Beg from the One Giver, and you shall obtain your heart's desires. But if you beg from any other, then you shall be shamed.vii” Dowry is condemned by our Gurus, by our Rehat Maryada and even Indian lawviii! Unfortunately it is still being practised today, even by Sikhs as Aamir Khan discovered. ix” “Now I understand why the Anand Karaj x ceremony was introduced. So anyone, be he rich or poor, would be able to marry off his child!” Stories Dadaji used to tell her as a child were beginning to make sense. Dadaji’s words and presence comforted Jasmine. They resolved to meet Jas and his parents. Trishna, Jas’ mum was very defensive about her list. They had been following the tradition for generations for all weddings in their families, she insisted. Voices were raised and threats were thrown around. Within minutes, hopes of the happily ever after marriage Jasmine had dreamt of seemed to be crashing all around her. Trishna’s screams that the wedding would be called off if her demands were not met were reverberating in the room. Awoken by the din, her little cousin who had been asleep next door, walked in scared and confused. “Why can’t Jasmine marry Jas?”came the innocent child’s question. “Why don’t you ask Aunty Trishna?” Dadaji replied. Silence. Dadaji slowly got up, and offered Trishna and everyone tea and samosas. She was embarrassed at her outburst. Deafening silence. Jas had on numerous occasions spoken to Dadaji and was convinced he would be able to knock sense into his mother. In his mellow, loving, grandfatherly voice, Dadaji spoke to the two families about Guruji’s advice. It was as if the Guruji himself was speaking to them. For the first time ever, Trishna realised that the words in the Guru Granth Sahib were meant to be followed in life, not merely bowed to. “Jasmine, about the list- I’ll sms you,” said a contemplative Trishna in a considerate voice as she and her family made their way out the door. “Mum, please make the shopping simple, ok?” a relieved Jasmine reminded her mum smiling as she helped her clear up the table. She knew deep down things would work out ...to be continued
i) ii) iii) No Sikh should accept a match for his/her son or daughter for monetary consideration. (Sikh Code of Conduct) nwrI purKu purKu sB nwrI sBu eyko purKu murwry ] Women and men, all the men and women, all came from the One Supreme Being. (M4, 983) hoir mnmuK dwju ij riK idKwlih su kUVu AhMkwru kcu pwjo ]
(M4,79)

Any other dowry, which the self-willed manmukhs offer for show, is only false egotism and a worthless display. iv) hir pRBu myry bwbulw, hir dyvhu dwnu mY dwjo ] v) O my father, please give me the Name of the Lord God as my wedding gift and dowry. ||4|| (M4,79) BwvyN dyvIN nw dwj ivc gihxy, ividAw pVwHdIN bwblw [ Bhave devee na daaj vich gehney, vidya prhadi babula

(Punjabi idiom) vi) lwlcu Cofhu AMiDho lwlic duKu BwrI ] So renounce greed - you are blind! Greed only brings pain. (M1, 419) vii) hir ieko dwqw mMgIAY mn icMidAw pweIAY ] jy dUjy pwshu mMgIAY qw lwj mrweIAY ] Beg from the One Lord, the Great Giver, and you shall obtain your heart`s desires. But if you beg from another, then you shall be shamed and destroyed. (M1, 590) viii) The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 ix) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqlzA8MwZBg x) A Sikh's marriage should be solemnized by Anand marriage rites. (Sikh Code of Conduct)

Page 3
Sojhi (Sikhi for Children)
The Sohji Pilot Program was launched on 29 July 2012 and got off to a great start with close to 50 children enrolled in 4 classes. Enthusiastic children and their parents started streaming in early, and from the hustle and bustle at the mini darbaar in the Sikh Centre , it was clearly evident that the flame of Sikhi glows brightly. We thank the children, parents and teacher volunteers who have come forward with such great fervor to embrace, uphold and impart Sikhi knowledge and values.

Central Sikh Gurdwara Board Highlights

Ardas before the start of Sojhi classes

Ta
Kindy sojhi class

e Hu king th

kam N

ama

rim Upper p

ary sojh

i class

er Low

prim

a

ojh ry s

i cla

ss

Calling teacher volunteers
The next teachers training session will be held in October/November 2012 for persons who wish to volunteer as Sojhi teachers. Please call Dilraj at 6327 2004 or email sojhisingapore@sikhs.org.sg for details.

Sojhi teachers training session

Page 4
Introducing Bhai Manbir Singh

Central Sikh Gurdwara Board Highlights

The Gurmat Sangeet Academy is pleased to introduce its newest staff Bhai Manbir Singh, who teaches classes at the Central Sikh Temple. Bhai Manbir Singh, together with our current gurmat sangeet teacher, is also from Jawaddi Taksal. He learnt the vaja from his father and joined Jawaddi Taksal part-time for 3 years before switching to fulltime student in 2005 and completing their Gurmat Sangeet Martand course in 2010. Under the guidance of his ustad, the famous musicologist, Principal Sukhwant Singh Ji, he developed his talent and learnt to play new instruments including the tabla, taus, dilruba, rabab, violin and guitar as well! Bhai Manbir was a gurmat sangeet teacher in Phagwara, Ludhiana and Mohali before joining us in Singapore.
Bhai Manbir on the taus When asked what he feels strongly about, Manbir replied “to do my part to ensure the musical treasure our Gurus left for us is passed on to the next generation".

Gurmat Sangeet classes are held at the Central Sikh Temple from Tuesdays- Sundays. Call Dilraj at the Sikh Centre on tel. 6327 2004 for more information.

Art and Craft classes at the Sikh Centre
Following their introduction at the Sikh Centre on 19 August 2012, Art and Craft classes for Children have been very well received, with more than 20 excited children making their first masterpiece, an Ice–Cream Stick Wall Hanging! More exciting classes are lined up for the coming weeks. Here's a sneak peek into the first class Art and Craft classes for children aged 3-10 are held every Sunday, from 1-2pm in the Sikh Centre Library. Please call Roshni at 6327 2007 for registration or enquiries.

C what I made

Isn’t it pretty ?

Busy in our crafting

Page 5
Community visits to our Gurdwaras

Central Sikh Gurdwara Board Highlights

Thirty members from the Inter-Racial and Religious Confidence Circle (IRCC) visited the Silat Road Gurdwara on Saturday 14 July 2012. We were privileged to have an unannounced participant when Madam Halimah Yacob, Minister of State for the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports joined this visit. Following lunch with the sangat, the group toured the premises and received a briefing on the Sikh Way of Life, including the role of the Gurdwara in the Community. Eight part-time students from the Trinity Theological College accompanied by their instructor visited the Central Sikh Temple on Thursday 24 May 2012 as part of a familiarization program on understanding different religious communities in Singapore through visits to the community's religious worship space.
Trinity Theological College students

Six tertiary students from the United States, enrolled in the National University of Singapore's immersion program, visited the Central Sikh Temple on Tuesday 31 July 2012. They were accompanied by Mr Chan Kah Tim, Assistant Manager (Program Management), NUS Extension. An enthusiastic group who asked lots of questions!
g to m Learnin a ake ch patis

Donations to the Sikh Centre Library
The Sikh Centre Library is currently being reorganized and its collection renewed with a primary focus on all matters to do with Sikh history, religion, philosophy, and the promotion of Sikhi to our sangat, young and old alike. We are grateful to the sangat for thinking of the library when donating materials they no longer require or need to keep in their homes. As part of the renewal process, we have been progressively updating our collection through weeding of older unwanted materials and the acquisition of new materials to maintain the library's 'inviting and fresh new look'. We would therefore prefer not to receive any more .

Page 6

Central Sikh Gurdwara Board Highlights

Guru Nanak Sahib's four most significant blessings
The Gurpurab of Avtar Sri Guru Nanak Sahib on 28 November 2012 brings to mind his four most significant blessings.

Religious Tolerance: Without a doubt, Guru Nanak Sahib's best-known teaching is that of religious
tolerance. Widely known as “Hindu da guru, mussalman da pir”, he was not the only one to encourage respect between people of different religions. Bhagat Kabir was also outspoken in this regard. Yet, no one went to such lengths, and travelled so far and wide to inspire oneness among peoples of so many creeds, castes and nationalities. An ambitious travel itinerary like Guru Nanak Sahib's was not again to be attempted anywhere by any religious figure until well into this century, when new methods of travel and communication had made it much easier.

Holistic Thinking: One of the main things Guru Nanak Sahib taught in his travels was that one should
not follow any doctrine, habit or ritual slavishly. He encouraged everyone to question established beliefs and, if necessary, to challenge them. He taught that no idea or practice is sacred in and of itself. A thought or activity is only holy if it reminds us of the soulful, timeless reality which is God. On many occasions the great Guru astonished those around by defying traditions that were widely held to be sacrosanct. When the Brahmins threw Ganges water into the air as an offering to the sun, Guru Nanak Sahib mocked them by throwing water in the direction of his fields, which were much nearer. In Mecca, when everyone slept with their feet away from the Ka’aba, “because God lived there”, Guru Nanak Sahib deliberately broke with tradition, and slept with his feet toward the Ka’aba. Where, after all, is God not? When a man expected the Guru to join him as he absentmindedly did his ritual prayer, Guru Nanak sat by and watched, then chided that man for thinking not of God, but of his business. (Let us hope that our prayers and customary observances in the Gurdwara should pass the test of this most discriminating Guru!) According to Guru Nanak Sahib, mindless observance of any kind is simply a waste of time.

The Sacredness of Womankind: Guru Nanak Dev Sahib also shared with people his realization that
one could live a spiritual life without having to abandon one’s home and family. Rather, he explained that running away from the responsibilities of home life, and the needs of society in the pursuit of enlightenment, was cowardly and most unspiritual. While monks and mendicants had been accustomed to heaping scorn on the lot of the householder, Guru Nanak Sahib showed how, without the householder’s kindness, these escapists would simply starve. Real enlightenment, he taught, was a matter of cultivating a state of spiritual detachment in the midst of one’s worldly and family responsibilities. In a time when it was customary to blame women for many, if not all, of a man’s misfortunes, Guru Nanak Sahib challenged the misogynists. Well before this century’s widespread recognition of the injustice of sexual discrimination and gender bias, he helped everyone appreciate that since, all their life long, men seek the company of women, and since women give birth even to the kings whom people praise, the “fairer sex” could not be so intrinsically bad, after all. By establishing the home, “grihst ashram”, as the basis for spiritual way of life, Guru Nanak Sahib uplifted and secured the place of women in society.

A Tradition of Empowerment: Guru Nanak Sahib was much more than merely a widely-travelled
social reformer, with a particular eye for superstitious practices and the down-trodden status of women. He was also a deeply realized being. The Guru gave humanity an inspiring legacy through his very life, which came to be written down and told in stories known as “janam sakhi”, and through the celestial Gurbani which he composed. Guru Nanak’s poetic output was both profound and prolific. Written in the common language of his time and place, this Gurbani was revolutionary both because of the divine revelation that it was and is, and because it was written in the common language of the people of northwestern India, rather than in the archaic tongues of the ancient Hindu and Moslem scriptures. (This is an abridged version of an essay by Guru Fatha Singh Khalsa entitled This Blessed Blissful Way of Life, which first appeared in the Sikh Review in 1996)

Page 7

Central Sikh Gurdwara Board Highlights

BHAI MAHARAJ SINGH’S 156th BARSI CELEBRATIONS
Gurdwara Sahib Silat Road and the Sangat celebrated Bhai Maharaj Singh’s 156th Barsi from 30 June to 8 July 2012. This year's celebration theme was centered on Bhai Maharaj Singh as a True Saint, Soldier Scholar and Spiritual Leader who was imbued with divine love and understanding. Members from the Sangat participated in the slow reading of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib over 8 days from 30 June to 8 July, and this change from the traditional Akand Paath was warmly welcomed by all. In addition, daily kirtan and katha on the life and contributions of Bhai Maharaj Singh Ji inspired the Sangat. Excited children at the party

As part of the celebrations, SRST Management Committee and staff visited the Mei Ling Street Home for the Aged on 22 July 2012. Key daily essentials and clothing were donated to the residents of the Home. This visit offered the Sangat an opportunity to participate in this activity and interact with the residents of the Home. A children’s party was also held at the Sikh Centre on the same date and it was well received by the children and their parents. ….. Deeply engrossed in activities The final event of the celebration was the annual Bhai Maharaj Singh Inter-Gurdwara Golf Championship held on 24 August at the Pulai Spring Golf and Country Club. The holding of this 12th consecutive annual joint event augurs well for the Sikh community, reflecting close coordination between a religious and a sporting body.

Pardesi Khalsa Dharmak Diwan emerged as the new trophy champion and Sushminder Singh was judged the “Best Gross Champion”.

The winning team

Condolence prayers held at the Central Sikh Temple
Sikhs in Singapore were shocked and deeply saddened by the loss of innocent lives at the Sikh Temple in Wisconsin and joined the world community in grieving over the untimely deaths of Sikhs killed in the Gurdwara. The Sikh sangat from all 7 Gurdwaras in Singapore joined in a prayer at the Central Sikh Temple on 12 August 2012 to remember those who lost their lives during the shooting incident at the Sikh Temple of Religious leaders jointly expressing solidarity in condolence Wisconsin. Prominent religious leaders from other faiths also joined the well attended prayer session and shared with the Sikh community their heartfelt condolences and well being of all affected by this tragedy. The sangat prayed for those who lost their lives and asked Guruji to accept them in His abode and to give strength to the families and friends. Our condolences go to the families, relatives and friends of those who lost their lives in this tragedy. Members present at the prayer also signed a condolence book and this together with condolences from the Sikh Sewaks were conveyed to the Wisconsin Sikh Temple.

Condolence prayer session at CST

Page 8

Central Sikh Gurdwara Board Highlights IRCC @ Heartlands

The Central Sikh Gurdwara Board, together with six other religious organisations, took part in a two-day carnival known as IRCC @ Heartlands on Saturday and Sunday 8 & 9 September 2012 at Albert Mall. The road show was aimed at promoting religious harmony in Singapore and featured ethnic musical events such as our bhangra, and also included scaleddown replicas of places of worship in Singapore. Minister for Information, Communication and the Arts Dr Yaacob Ibrahim and Ms Indranee Rajah, MP Tanjong Pagar GRC attended the event.

Religious lea

ders with Min

ister Dr. Yaa

cob Ibrahim

Bhangra performance

Tuition classes
This year's PSLE, 'N' Level and 'O' Level tuition classes will end in late September - early October. We had a dedicated group of students who took advantage of the classes taught by equally dedicated MOE-trained teachers and academically qualified volunteers. We wish them and all Sikh students best of luck for their exams!
PSLE class in session

a po r making E teache PSL

int

For

info on Central Sikh Gurdwara Board activities, Please visit our Website @ www.sikhs.org.sg

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