The Indian government has decided to celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Devji with much fanfare next year. Indian Missions spread across the world, including the Indian High Commission in Singapore along with the various State governments of India, would celebrate the anniversary on a grand scale. Indian Missions will organise special events on the occasion.
Guru Nanak Devji is the first Guru of the Sikh community and his teachings of love, peace, equality and brotherhood have eternal value and are highly significant in the present world battered by hatred and terrorism.
Indian Union Cabinet met recently under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and took several decisions in relation to the celebrations of birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Devji. Major highlights of the decisions are
The Union Cabinet approved the building and development of the Kartarpur Corridor from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district to the international border, in order to facilitate visits by pilgrims from India to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur on the banks of the Ravi River in Pakistan, where Shri Guru Nanak Devji spent eighteen years.
In fact, the foundation stone for construction of the Kartarpur Corridor was laid today by Vice-President of India Venkaiah Naidu. Indian Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Food Processing Harsimrat Kaur Badal, and Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh were also present on the occasion. Indian pilgrims can visit the holy shrine without having to secure a visa.
The move to open this corridor between India and Pakistan was the first sign of a thaw in bilateral ties, which had taken a nose-dive in recent years with no bilateral talks taking place. The ties between the two countries had been strained after the terror attacks by Pakistan-based groups in 2016.
Indian government will develop the Kartarpur Corridor as an integrated development project with all modern amenities. Government of India will put in place suitable facilities for smooth passage of pilgrims. Government of Pakistan will be urged to recognize the sentiments of the Sikh community and to develop a corridor with suitable facilities in their territory as well.
Indian Cabinet has also taken the decision to develop historic town of Sultanpur Lodhi, associated with the life of Guru Nanak. It will be developed as a heritage town and on the Smart City principles, including energy efficiency, to highlight Shri Guru Nanak Devji's emphasis on sustainability and reverence for nature.
As a major attraction for pilgrims and tourists, a heritage complex at Sultanpur Lodhi, ‘Pind Babe Nanak da’, will be established to depict life in the times of Guru Nanak. Sultanpur Lodhi railway station will be upgraded and developed with all modern amenities.
A Centre for Inter Faith Studies will be set up at Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar. Chairs on Shri Guru Nanak Devji will be set up in one university each in United Kingdom and Canada. An international seminar on the life and teachings of Shri Guru Nanak Devji will be organised in Delhi.
All the States/Union Territories of India will also celebrate 550th Birth Anniversary of Shri Guru Nanak Devji in a befitting manner. Indian Missions overseas will organize special events on the occasion.
In addition to this, commemorative coin and postage stamps will be released by the Government of India to mark this momentous occasion.
Religious activities will be organised throughout the country. Doordarshan will telecast programmes on Shri Guru Nanak Devji and Gurubani. National Book Trust will publish Gurbani in different Indian languages. UNESCO will be requested to publish Shri Guru Nanak Devji's writings in world languages.
The Indian Ministry of Railways will run a train passing through various holy places associated with Shri Guru Nanak Devji for pilgrims and tourists.
Vibrant Sikh community in Singapore
Sikh community is a very vibrant one in Singapore and is an integral part of the multi-religious and multicultural fabric of the city-state.
Recently, the Sikh community celebrated the centenary of Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha (SGSS) of Singapore in which the President of he country Halimah Yacob was the ‘guest of honour’ where she happily met with the women of the Sikh community.
Members of the Sikh community are also known for their social work and are first one to help others in times of natural disasters including earthquakes. Volunteers associated with Young Sikh Association (YSA) always spend their three-week vacation in the Indian State of Punjab to help rebuild a village school as part of their social work.
Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha has played an active role in the propagation of Punjabi language in Singapore and promoted the tenets of Sikh religion among the community. It allowed its premises to be used for over 25 years from the 1940s to the 1960s to run Punjabi classes for Sikh children.
SGSS has always been in the forefront of organising and participating in the Sikh religious activities and has been a beacon for the teaching of the Panjabi Language, which today, is one of the South Asian Languages recognised by the government.
The Sabha has been active in encouraging closer cohesion of the Sikh community in Singapore, being supportive in the organisation of festivals like Vesakhi, Gurpurabs and National Day celebrations.