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CatholicNews ■ Sunday September 2, 2007 13

(Left) The Gurdwara Sahib at the beginning of a local Sikh mother tongue language of the birthday in December/January
Silat Road was first built by the community that continued to Sikhs • Vaisakhi (on Apr 13/14)
Singapore Sikh Police in 1924 grow in the years thereafter. • The Khalsa Association that commemorating the Sikh new
but subsequently renovated Within a few years they were caters to the cultural and sporting year and 1699, the year Sikhism
and upgraded a number of followed by Sikhs from other needs of the Sikh community was born as a collective faith
times, the last of which was on districts in Punjab who made • The Sikh Advisory Board with the setting up of the Khalsa
Oct 23, 1995. It is now under THE FIRST GROUP of Sikhs their own way here to seek their that advises the Minister on Brotherhood as the Sikh way of
the administration of Central who came to Singapore were fortune and a better life. matters concerning the Sikh life. Vasakhi is celebrated with
Sikh Gurdwara Board and “sepoys” or policemen recruited Today there are about 15,000 religion, customs and general religious, cultural and sporting
the Central Sikh Temple. in India especially to maintain Sikhs in Singapore and seven welfare of the Sikh community. ■ events
Adjoining the temple is the peace among the Chinese here gurdwaras. Several institutions • Installation of the Guru
national Sikh Centre which who were engaged in gang wars. cater to the other needs of the Granth Sahib as the permanent
offers a range of facilities A Commission of Inquiry set Sikh community. These include: guru on Oct 20
including a library, a computer up by the Straits Settlements • The Sikh Welfare Council • Diwali(or Deepavali) in
room and an auditorium. The Police Force in Singapore in that collectively serves the Sikh November. The Sikhs celebrate
temple was built to honour the 1879 recommended bringing community in problem issues A SIKH FESTIVAL or holy day Diwali to express the joy at
memory of Maharaj Singh, in a Sikh contingent from India like drug and alcohol addiction, is called a gurpurab, meaning the return of the sixth guru to
a political prisoner exiled to to strengthen the local police domestic violence, increasing guruʼs remembrance day. The Amritsar in 1620 after his release
the island by the British but force. In March 1881, 54 Sikhs divorce rates, elderly parents most important Sikh festival from Gwalior Jail. Diwali means
was considered by the Sikhs arrived from the Punjab. By needing care, support for days in Singapore are: festival of lights. So, in the
as a saintly soldier who stood November that same year, the divorcees, widows, etc • Guru Nanakʼs birthday in evening, illuminations are done
firm in his faith and fought for full contingent of 165 Sikhs • The Sikh Education October/November with diwas (oil lamps made of
religious and political freedom. was deployed here. This marked Foundation to teach Punjabi, the • Guru Gobind Singhʼs clay) or candles. ■

The Golden
Temple, located
in Amritsar in the
state of Punjab,
India, is the most
sacred shrine of
Sikhism. Sikh
devotees, who
view the temple
as a symbol
of freedom
and spiritual
come from all
over the world to
pray here.

of righteous action, restraint and

–– “Kirpan” (a miniature steel
TO A SIKH, birth and death are
sword) symbolizes the defence
closely associated, because they
of and help for the weak and the
are both part of the cycle of human
needy and standing up for the
life which itself is seen as a
righteous cause
transient stage towards complete
–– “Kaccha” (cotton under-
unity with God (Nirvana).
garment) symbolizes chastity or
Sikhs believe in reincarnation
rightful sexual conduct. ■
and mourning is discouraged,
especially in the case of those who
have lived a long and full life. ■ WASHINGTON – The Hudson Europe, while the best-ranked all groups, including agnostics
Instituteʼs Center for Religious included the United States, and atheists. Whether a country
Abortion: Abortion is generally Freedom presented its initial Canada and countries in Western was predominantly secular or
forbidden in Sikhism, as it is findings regarding world trends Europe. Countries in which the favoured an established religion
considered to interfere in the in religious freedom recently, population is predominantly had little to do with that countryʼs
creative work of God who is ranking countriesʼ religious Catholic or Protestant were found record for religious tolerance.
THE FIVE Ks are five physical the creator of everything and is intolerance on a scale of one to to have a high degree of religious The centre found that most
symbols worn by Sikhs who have present in every being. seven and naming radical Islam freedom, with the exception of a countries with high Islamic
been ritually initiated into the as the greatest threat to religious few, including Cuba, Colombia populations typically offer the
Khalsa, which was founded in 1699 Contraception: Sikhs have no freedom worldwide. and Zimbabwe. least protection of religious
by Guru Gobind Singh. The Khalsa objection to birth control. The findings are part of the Although the survey showed freedom, with the exception of
was founded with the intention of Euthanasia and suicide: Sikhs centerʼs latest book, “Religious that decreases in religious Mali and Senegal in East Africa.
reforming the Sikhs into a military have a high respect for life which Freedom in the World, 2007”, freedom were often accompanied The poorest-scoring countries
group of men and women so that they see as a gift from God. Most which will be released next year by a national decline in economic include Sudan, Uzbekistan, Saudi
they would be able to defend their Sikhs are against euthanasia and and analyzes 100 countries, and political well-being, many Arabia, Turkmenistan and Iran. The
faith as well as be bound and suicide, as they believe that the focusing on those countries regimes have interests – whether low ranking of Islamic nations
united as one community. A Sikh timing of birth and death should where religious freedom is least religious or political – that means that the greatest struggle for
who wears the Five Ks shows be left in Godʼs hands. protected. are distinct from those of the religious freedom is being fought
that he is devoted and submissive Religious freedom rankings countryʼs people, he said. Several within the Islamic community.
to the guru. The Five Ks are: Just war: Sikhism has a Just War were sorted according to regimes seek to cultivate their “We need to remind ourselves
–– “Kesh” (uncut hair and concept called “Dharam Yudh”, geographical regions and also by own religious motives using the that the people who are suffering
beard) symbolizes discipline and meaning war in the defence of the prevailing religion present in government as their tool. Other the most from this radical Islamic
the search for spirituality righteousness. Though Sikhs are each country. A score of one was regimes, such as China, simply jihadism are followers of Islam
–– “Kangha” (a wooden comb expected to take military action the best, while seven indicated want to control all activity within who refuse to knuckle under to
in the hair) symbolizes cleanliness against oppression, they are severe religious intolerance. their borders, religion included. this particularly virulent brand of
–– “Kara” (a stainless steel strongly in favour of action to Most countries with the The study found that ideology that is being propagated
bangle, usually worn on the right promote human rights and harmony poorest rankings were found in restrictions on freedom of in their name,” one observer said.
hand) symbolizes the importance between religions and states. ■ Asia, North Africa and Eastern religion to some degree affected ■ CNS