Sikhism celebrates in Officer

Head priest Upkar Singh. Pictures: Rob Carew 375239_01

The Sikh and Indian community in the Southeast region began the three-day celebrations of the birth anniversary of the founder of Sikh faith – Guru Nanak Dev – on Saturday 25 November.

Community members from several faiths, ethnicities and organisations have been attending the celebrations.

The festivities started with the visit of State Minister for Multicultural Affiars Ingrid Stitt to the Officer Gurdwara Siri Guru Nanak Darbar.

Several other public figures joined to congratulate the Sikh and Indian community on the day included South Eastern Metropolitan MPs Lee Tarlamis and Michael Galea, Pakenham MP Emma Vulin, Victorian Multicultural Commission (VMC) chairperson Vivienne Nguyen, Cardinia Shire councillors Stephanies Davies and Colin Ross, and VMC commissioner Sylvia Coombe.

Welcoming the community, Harpreet Singh Kandra said: “We the Sikh community are privileged and thankful to all of you for finding time to join us as we celebrate the Prakash Purab of the founder of Sikh faith Guru Nanak Dev ji, who was born in 1469. On behalf of our congregation, I welcome you all from the core of our hearts.”

About 70 attendees learnt about the five principles advocated by Guru Nanak, as he travelled to different parts of the world, which included:

Vaand Chhako (sharing and caring)

Kirat karo (honest living).

Sarbat daa bhalaa (everyone’s wellbeing)

Naam japo (meditate on the Name of one God).

Speak the truth without any fear.

Minister Ingrid Stitt congratulated the entire Sikh and Indian community on their contributions to Victoria, in line with the principles of Guru Nanak’s teachings.

She, in particular, cited the food relief provided by the Sikh community during several emergency situations, including the Covid pandemics.

She told the congregation that several buildings will be lit on the day of Guru Nanak’s birthday – to mark an acknowledgement of the contributions made by over 91,000 Victorian Sikhs.

Harpreet Singh told the audience that as a very young Gurdwara, established in January 2019, the selfless volunteers have worked tirelessly to promote social cohesion, compassion, sustainable development, value creation and productivity.

The Gurdwara presented a document summarising the contributions of community such as producing recipe books during the pandemic to help the community overcome mental stress; and organising several sessions for world peace, most recently for peace in the Middle East.

He stated that: “The proof of the pudding is that some of the wider community members have told us that they are proud that we decided to make Oz our home!”

The team at the Gurdwara also have dream to become a carbon neutral Gurdwara – the first one in Australia and the world and are progressively making efforts to achieve this.