Corridor opening caps 550 year celebrations
As new page unfurls in Indo-Pak relations; Sikhs emphasise the significance of a divine moment rather than just diplomacy
The furious twists 'n' turns in the run-up to the Kartarpur Singh corridor inauguration tomorrow, (Saturday, November 9) notwithstanding, we are seeing a new chapter open in India-Pakistan relations. Though politics is taking centre stage right now, let us be careful that diplomacy does not overshadow a divine event, the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Devji, which falls on November 12. This is being celebrated across the world.
As a community, we had always also hoped that the Kartarpur Corridor would be opened so that people could embark on a pilgrimage to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur. Other Sikh places of worship in Pakistan should also eventually be accessible to all. The 'all' needs to be stressed because Sikhism is an inclusive way of life, rather than falling into the narrow definition of religion only. Look at the 'Golden Temple' as it is popularly known, of Amritsar. It has four doors, North, South, East, West. That itself is emblematic of its all-encompassing character and accent on inclusion.
The opening of the Corridor is also a stage in people to people interaction between India and Pakistan. I am sure the Sikhs of India will be excited and eager to meet the Sikhs there, but I do not know how much of that is feasible. I do not think there will be scope for too much on-ground connect with locals though, given that this is a 'corridor' and a highly secure one at that. Some Indian Sikhs have gone to Pakistan to visit places of worship. However, it is very difficult to go individually because of challenging paperwork requirements.
Coming back to the 550 years celebration, this is a moment in time when a feeling of devoutness overwhelms all followers of the faith. It should also propel people to garner deeper knowledge of the tenets of Sikhism. Sikhism is extremely practical and has lessons we can inculcate in daily life. It believes in equality. The cornerstone is freedom of choice. Today, as attention is focused on the Kartarpur Corridor, and its accompanying controversies which are out of the scope of this column, it is freedom of choice for everyone. Some may have decided to cross the Corridor and go into Pakistan now just as it opened, others may do so at a later time, like me for instance, who is currently tied up with celebrations in Mumbai. The Corridor signals the end of cutting off access to the community here from Pakistani place of worship. It is also the beginning of hopefully, a new era where every place of Sikh worship will welcome devotees from across the border. With happiness in my heart, a prayer on my lips and a chest puffed with pride at this milestone moment, I can say and want all to say with me: 'bolo so nihal, sat sri akal'.
The figure 550
Balbir Singh secretary, Singh Saba (Dadar) said they have stressed '550' in initiatives at their Dadar Gurudwara. "We aim to reach 550 beds for poor cancer patients across our centres in the city, we have about 300 as of now, with 250 patients over here. We also launched 'Rasoi 550', a guru ka langar-kitchen on this occasion for cancer patients at the Tata Memorial Hospital. Charity, lifting up the downtrodden, helping, serving (seva) is such a vital part of who we are. We do not just read it but have to practise it too," finished the secretary pointing to their new dental unit in the Dadar Gurudwara where treatment is subsidised and a spanking new physiotherapy centre, where they vouch to take out the ouch from joints but at very competitive costs.
Sardar Manmohan Singh Ratti is general secretary, Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Dadar Gurdwara
As told to Hemal Ashar
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