Sikhs return to the parliament to mark 553rd Guru Nanak Dev Ji Gurpurb event
All images by Facebook @SikhFedUK
After a two year break due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sikhs and politicians were back in Parliament on Tuesday, 15 November, to mark the 553rd Gurpurb, birth anniversary of the founder of the Sikh faith, Guru Nanak Dev Ji.
The event was co-hosted by The Sikh Network, the Sikh Federation (UK) and the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for British Sikhs. As with previous Gurpurb events, the organisers combined the celebration of the life and teachings of Guru Nanak Dev Ji with providing some much-deserved recognition to individuals who have carried out great work on behalf of the Sikh community.
Opening and welcome speeches were delivered by MP Preet Kaur Gill, MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, and Sikh Network Board Member Manchandan Kaur Sandhu. Attendees were told about the significance of living Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s teachings of Naam Japo, Kirt Karo and Vand ke Chako in today’s society. The speakers talked of the revolutionary spirit of Guru Nanak Dev Ji and how they are each driving this message forward in the UK today.
This year’s keynote speaker was Manmugan Singh, Executive Committee Member of the Sikh Council UK. Manmugan lead the congregation in a warming recital of the Mool Mantar and heeded the importance of individual accountability to living Guru Ji’s message. He implored audience members to crystalise their personal connections with the Sikh message and bring them to fruition in their everyday lives.
The core message of the evening, that of truth, justice and unity, reverberated in the repeated calls for Jagtar Singh Johal’s release from each MP that spoke and through the passionate words of MP Martin Docherty Hughes, Reprieve’s Dan Dolan and world renowned solicitor Gareth Peirce. Each called the Indian and British Governments to account, voicing the community’s frustration at the UK Government’s lack of action and the Indian Government’s brazen disregard for truth and the legal process. Johal has been arbitrarily detained for over five years and the single message to the Government and Rishi Sunak from the evening was to now call for his immediate release.
Rev Dr Richard Sudworth, Secretary for Inter Religious Affairs to the Archbishop of Canterbury and National Inter Religious Affairs Adviser for the Church of England, highlighted the importance of Sikh values in today’s world, and underlined the need for us each to bring our whole selves forward as we build stronger connections with our neighbours of all faiths.
The audience was treated to a special Kirtan performance from Harmanpreet Singh on vocals and the harmonium, accompanied by Juginder Singh on the violin. The duo took the evening to a new level of “Chardi Kalla” with Waheguru Simran and their rendition of “Sat Guru Nanak Pargateya”, beautifully sung by them and the attending audience.
In line with previous events, a small award ceremony was held to provide recognition to various individuals and organisations who have gone above and beyond in the last year in their work for the Sikh community. The following were awarded for their contribution in their own fields of work.
· Contribution to Politics – Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi
· Contribution to Sports – Dylan Singh Cheema, Boxer
· Contribution to Education – Navleen Kaur
· Contribution to Business – Amritpal Singh Mann, Punjab Restaurant
· Contribution to Media – Balvinder Kaur Sidhu
· Contributions in Charity Selfless Seva – Reprieve
· Contribution to Human rights – Sukhdev Kaur Reel
· Recognised Organisation – Gareth Peirce Solicitors
· Recognised International Contribution – Deep Singh Sidhu
· Recognised Lifetime achievement – Dabinderjit Singh
Mankamal Singh from the Sikh Network commented on the event, “The theme of this year’s Gurpurb event was very much centred around truth and justice where we heard from campaigners involved in the #freejagginow campaign as well as justice for Ricky Reel. As Sikhs, our core belief is in upholding truth and justice, as taught to us by Guru Nanak Dev Ji and the succeeding Gurus.
“Guru Nanak Dev Ji started a great revolution 553 years ago. A revolution that was born to embrace solutions for humanity and today we share that message with everyone.
“To learn more about the Sikh Network and the key issues we are pursuing on behalf of the Sikh community in the UK, such as the release of Jagtar Singh Johal, better representation in parliament, prevention of hate crime and support of religious freedoms, and standing for truth and justice for the Sikh Genocides of 1984, please subscribe to the Sikh Network podcast and contact us to get involved.”
All the organisations involved in the event extended their thanks to the MPs and Lords who attended and contributed to the evening. These included Clive Betts (Labour), Deidre Brock (SNP), Fiona Bruce (Conservatives), Ruth Cadbury (Labour), Bambos Charalambous (Labour), Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi (Labour), Martin Docherty-Hughes (SNP), Preet Kaur Gill (Labour), Mary Glindon (Labour), Emma Hardy (Labour), Eddie Hughes (Conservatives), Afzal Khan (Labour), Lord Wajid Khan (Labour), Khalid Mahmood (Labour), John McDonnell (Labour), Kirsten Oswald (SNP), Tom Tugendhat (Conservatives), Valerie Vaz (Labour), Claudia Webbe (UK Independence), Catherine West (Labour) and Matt Western (Labour).
The event was recorded by Akaal Channel (Sky770) and was broadcast on social media pages as well as at 18:00 GMT on Thursday, 17 November on Sky channel 770. The Sikh Network and the Sikh Federation (UK) have thanked everyone who supported this remarkable event, in particular, Punjab Restaurant, London and our media partners Akaal Channel and Punjab 2000.