Duncan Sikh community marks founder’s 550th birthday

Duncan Sikh Temple president Chanchal Singh Thiara speaks to the congregation during the last day of celebrations of Guru Nanak’s 550th birthday. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Guru Nanak’s portrait is in a place of honour in the main hall at the Duncan Sikh Temple. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Volunteers from the Duncan Sikh Temple serve meals in the langar, or free kitchen, in the Duncan Sikh Temple. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Musicians play in the main hall at the Duncan Sikh Temple during celebrations of Guru Nanak’s 550th birthday last month. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

The Duncan Sikh Temple celebrated a milestone birthday of their religion’s founder last month.

The holiday marking Guru Nanak’s 550th birthday fell on Nov. 12 this year, but the Duncan temple waited until the following weekend to celebrate, holding a three-day festival that wrapped up on Nov. 17.

The first of the 10 Sikh Gurus, Guru Nanak is venerated as the founder of Sikhism, and his teachings form the fundamental beliefs of Sikhism.

“This is a good time to remind ourselves of the revered master’s teachings,” Chanchal Singh Thiara, president of the Duncan Sikh Temple, said during ceremonies on the last day of the festival.

The three cardinal pillars of Sikhism are faith and meditating on the name of God, hard work, and selfless service, which Thiara called “sharing is caring.” This is embodied by, among other things, Langar, the free community kitchen at the temple that is open to everyone every Sunday.

Guru Nanak rebelled against Hinduism, in which he was raised, Thiara stated, and said that there is only one god. He rebelled against rituals, raised his voice against tyranny, and spoke for the equality of women.

“He [taught] that all human beings are equal, whether men or women,” Thiara said.

To help Sikhs mark Guru Nanak’s birthday, a corridor was opened between India and Pakistan this November, allowing Indian Sikhs to pass into Pakistan, where the Guru’s birthplace of Nankana Sahib is located.

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