Pause for Thought 14-4-08
Author: Dr Indarjit Singh
Terry, today Sikhs are celebrating the festival of Vaisakhi and I’d like to offer you and our listeners best wishes from the Sikh community on this important day.
I know you feel that Sikhs always seem to be celebrating some festival or other. It’s an exaggeration, but there are reasons why it sometimes seems that way.
Let me try to explain myself. Most religions start with God getting fed up with the antics of us humans and sending a prophet, Messiah or Guru to help put us back on the straight and narrow. Rumour has it that he took one look at the weak and cowardly people of Punjab, sunk in ritual and superstition and said, ‘my God’, or words to that effect, ‘they’ll need ten!’
The real reason is that Guru Nanak, the founding Guru felt it wasn’t enough to talk about the oneness of the human family, respect for people of different faiths, service to others and a willingness to stand up to injustice. He instituted a system of succession with nine successor Gurus whose task was to show, that with courage and commitment, the life he taught could be lived in different social and political conditions, and the successor Gurus did just this, though it cost two of them their lives.
Finally, on the Punjabi Spring festival of Vaisakhi in 1699. the tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh tested the infant Sikh community for their readiness to live true to Sikh teachings without the guidance of further living Gurus. Sikhs came through the test with flying colours and the delighted Guru gave us the turban and other symbols of identity to remind us to be true to our ideals, whatever the circumstances. Today there will be lots of colourful processions and of course, lots of food, both spiritual and culinary, in our gurdwaras and all non-Sikhs are cordially invited to join us in either or both.