* Why All Gurdwaras should join
* Sikh Diversity should be accepted around one table
The Sikh Council UK is going through its 7th year. Essentially, it is a meeting point for the UK Gurdwaras representing local Sangats. All Gurdwaras need to be linked to this national level consultation and advisory system. The main reason is that over the last 60 plus years, the UK Sikhs had to rely on a central approach to Sikh religious, representational and work-place rights. These were secured incrementally through an organised joint approach by the Gurdwaras and national level organisations.
The issues have included the right to wear the turban and Sikh Kakaars at work and in schools and many other issues to do with Sikh recognition and representation for securing own rightful place in the British plural society. There are internal issues which require national level resolution. These are historical facts which cannot be denied by any Gurdwara management regardless of the size of the local community.
Gurdwaras around the country are a tangible evidence of the British Sikh success as a community despite all the prejudice and challenges which many of us faced on arrival in this country. We have secured the right to own distinct identity while integrating exceptionally well with the British way of life.
Gurdwaras, Sangats, Nagar Kirtans, Khalsa schools etc are visible proof of a vibrant local Sikh community. Yet, in today’s fast changing world and the constant need for national level consultations and communications, no Gurdwara management can claim aloofness from the rest of the nationwide Sikh community. Since the earliest arrivals, we have faced challenges which have shown us time and again that the Gurdwaras and established Sikh organisations need to consult together.
While all are happy to enjoy the benefits of the freedoms and rights secured by central talks with the authorities and governments, some continue to shrug off the need to link up with the Sikh Council saying, ‘Asseen ki laina’. Such thinking is short-sighted and lacks vision about the future of British Sikhs.
Some organisation have done excellent work outside Gurdwaras in securing Sikh rights but even they need to sit together sometime. There can be only one national level forum for a strong united front. Past experience is that without an agreed national level approach divisive tactics can be used against Sikh interests. Joint approach is the growing need of the times.
Like other world religions, one ongoing challenge for the Council is the diversity of different Sikh groupings, sampardais and sects. Can they all sit around one Panthic table? Given goodwill and flexible approach, albeit, centred around the Sikh Reht Maryda and Guru Granth- Guru Panth tradition, the answer has to be “yes”. That will require Sikhi wisdom above the practices of some sects under the large Sikh umbrella. We can learn lessons from the Khalsa of the 18th century when the diversity within the Panth was accepted. Sikh Council UK continues be a learning process for UK Sikhs.
The conclusion is that all Gurdwaras should be represented on the Sikh Council UK which should remain inclusive.
Gurmukh Singh OBE