Tuesday, 16 February, 2010

Calendar Issue and Sikh Life in the Western World


Calendar Issue and Sikh Life in the Western World

Harbans Lal
Tuesday, 16 February 2010
The proposed changes in Nanakshahi Calendar recently enacted by SGPC may jeopardize our important achievement in the Western World. Let me explain through a case report.
Although Sikhs have been members of the North American communities for over a century it is only recently that, we are becoming a part of the Western pubic life. One aspect of our public life is the presence of our children in the public schools. That very fact presented many challenges. One of them was recognition of Sikh presence through the public holidays in the public school calendar.
With the hope that something important was within our reach I accepted my nomination and later appointment on the Dallas Independent School District Religious Faiths Advisory committee in 2007. During this tenure, I was selected to serve as a member of the Dallas School Calendar Committee. In this role, I was asked to help develop a school calendar.
After much deliberation and presentations over a period of several months, I succeeded in getting several Sikh historical days in the school calendar. Because of the large size of the Dallas School district, its leadership makes state wide impact. Thus, our holidays were copied in the calendars of almost all school districts in Texas.
The Sikh holidays included Vaisakhi, Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev, Gurtagadi of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Martyrdom of Guru Teg Bahadur, and Birthday of Guru Nanak Dev; a higher panel dropped the birthday of Guru Gobind Singh, though included in the original list. It was done perhaps to limit the number of potential holidays.
Now I felt that the inclusion of our holidays in the school calendars in North America is a big achievement and it should not be jeopardized by offering dates that are not recurring as we may not continue to be represented when time comes to update calendars. The process takes long time and requires appropriate representations in important committees and task forces access to which is not guaranteed to us.
The dates I gave to the Calendar Task Force were from Nanakshai Calendar. I was warned that they would stay as they were at the time of the proposal and dates would not change. Even the Guru Nanak Birthday would stay as it was printed in the Calendar of the year of its first publication. I had to accept that condition lest we lose the recognition of that event.
I am detailing this account to illustrate the potential harm done to our identity in the Western world should we revert to the lunar calendar.
Harbans Lal, Arlington/USA
japji08@yahoo.com

Monday, 15 February, 2010

SGPC ready to Print Guru Granth Sahib in foreign countries: Makkar


SGPC ready to Print Guru Granth Sahib
in foreign countries: Makkar
Punjab Newsline Network
Monday, 15 February 2010

AMRITSAR: In what could come as a major relief for Sikhs across the world, especially non-resident Indians (NRIs), the SGPC has said it is not averse to printing of the Sikh holy scripture Guru Granth Sahib in other countries provided certain conditions were fulfilled.
The SGPC has said that it can allow the printing of the Granth Sahib in other countries. "We are open to the idea of allowing the printing of the holy scripture in other countries if the Sikh population in these countries can provide us the land and resources required for proper printing," said SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar.
"If the 'sangat' (people) can assure us this, we are ready to seek clearance from the 'Singh Sahibaan' (Sikh high priests)," Makkar added.
The 1,430-page Granth Sahib contains 'Gurbani' (Guru's teachings). It is seen by the Sikhs as the Guru incarnate. The holy scripture was originally installed at the Harmandar Sahib (popularly known as the Golden Temple) in 1604 by the fifth Guru Arjan Dev. The 10th Sikh Guru, Gobind Singh, had installed the Granth Sahib as the timeless Guru. The Guru Granth Sahib is a sort of living Guru in the midst of the Sikhs.
The SGPC controls all rights for the legal printing of the Granth Sahib which is now done only in Amritsar. The Sikh holy scripture, which is always in huge demand from Sikhs and Sikh institutions globally, is supplied and transported globally through the SGPC from Amritsar.
In recent years, chartered flights have been arranged by Sikhs from countries like the US and Canada to get copies of the Granth Sahib from Amritsar. On each such flight, the holy scripture is kept separately on each seat of the aircraft after following the religious maryada (decorum). SGPC-appointed sewadars (volunteers) accompany the scriptures on such flights.
The Granth Sahib, also called Adi Granth, contains compositions of the first five Gurus, the ninth Guru, 15 Bhagats (Jai Dev, Nam Dev, Trilochan, Parmanand, Sadna, Ramanand, Beni, Dhanna, Pipa, Sain, Kabir, Ravidas, Farid, Surday and Bhikhan) and 11 Bhattas (Mathra, Jalap, Harbans, Talya, Salya, Bhal, Kulh Sahar, Nal, Kirat, Gayand and Sadrang).
The Guru Granth Sahib contains 5,894 hymns in 15,575 stanzas. Of them 974 hymns are written by the first Guru Nanak Dev, 62 by the second Guru Angad Dev, 907 by the third Guru Amar Das, 679 by the fourth Guru Ram Dass (founder of Harmandar Sahib), 2,218 by the fifth Guru Arjan Dev, and 115 by the ninth Guru Tegh Bahadur.
Among the remaining 922 hymns of Bhagats, the highest number of hymns (541) is by Kabir. Considered an authentic scripture, the compositions of the Sikh Gurus were preserved and subsequently collected by Guru Arjan Dev. When the original copy (which is now at Kartarpur in Pakistan) could not be obtained, Guru Gobind Singh dictated it to Bhai Mani Singh.
The scripture is used by the Sikhs at the time of birth, marriage and death. The Guru Granth Sahib is regarded as the body of the Guru and is kept on a raised platform under a canopy, covered in clean clothes. Devotees have to be barefoot with their heads covered before bowing before the Granth Sahib.

Sunday, 14 February, 2010

Haryana govt to install CCTV cameras on all Bus Stands


Haryana govt to install CCTV
cameras on all Bus Stands


Punjab Newsline Network
Sunday, 14 February 2010

CHANDIGARH: To keep eye on anti social elements, Haryana Police has decided to put Close Circuit Cameras on all Bus Stands in the state.
While giving this information here Sunday, a spokesman of the Police Department said that Haryana Police was committed to maintain law and order situation in the state. He said that it had also been directed to immediately lodge FIR after getting information about the incident. He said that with a view to make police people friendly, a new Police Act was implemented in the state.
He said that with a view to bring transparency and to make corruption free administration, toll free numbers 1800-180-2022 and 1800-180-2200 had been started at State Vigilance Bureau, Headquarters and Police Headquarters respectively. Besides this, police women cells had been set up in the state.
He said that Haryana Government has taken a number of welfare decision to encourage police personnel’s in the state. He said the amount of ex-gratia being to the police personnel has been doubled from Rs. Five lakh to Rs.10 lakh. Seriously injured police personnel’s would now get Rs. Five lakh instead of Rs. Three lakh. Besides this, amount of ration money being given to police personnel’s had been doubled. With the concerted efforts of Haryana Police, criminals either flee from the state or joined the mainstream, he added.