Letters to the editor for the week of August 23rd, 2012 

The Flag Stop Festival says thanks!

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Russell Peters


What Does it Mean to be a Sikh?

This one question arises in my mind when I think of the shooting spree at the Sikh Gurdwara (Congregation place of worship) of Wisconsin in Oak Creek on Sunday, August 5 that left six dead. Why did this happen and why are only Sikhs being targeted? And then I think that there is a lack of communication or interaction with other communities about expressing our faith.

We must use media as well as other modern resources to explain who Sikhs are and what their identity is. The Sikh faith is the fifth largest in the world with more than 30 million followers spread over 165 countries. It includes belief in one God and that the goal of life is to lead an exemplary existence. The Sikh faith originated in Pakistan and North India, about 500 years ago. Sikhism is sometimes confused with Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism because of geographical proximity and cultural similarities.

Sikhs live according to a code of honour in service of all humanity. Sikh ethics advocate equality for men and women of every race and religion. Sikhs have a history of being the defenders of the defenseless. Sikhs are known for acting against the terror of forced conversion. Many Sikhs throughout history are respected for having sacrificed their own lives, so that people of other religions may have freedom to worship in the manner of their choice.

A Sikh believes in one God and follows teachings of the ten Gurus. Guru Nanak was the first Guru and was born in 1469 AD in Punjab, Pakistan, and founded a new religion Sikhism. Sikhism is a progressive religion well ahead of its time. Sikhism preaches a message of devotion and remembrance of God at all times, truthful living, equality of mankind and denounces superstitions and blind rituals and seeks the welfare of all the human beings of the globe and promotes peace, integration, co-existence and emphasizes the importance of human values. Sikhism is open to all through the teachings of its 10 Gurus enshrined in the Sikh Holy Book and Living Guru, Sri Guru Granth Sahib, that is, Word Divine.

Sikhism is a modern, scientific, and practical religious way of life. The philosophy of Sikhism therefore values AIR as a Guru, the WATER as a father and EARTH occupies the holy place of a mother. DAYS and NIGHTS are the nurses in whose laps the whole creation fondles. Let this superb system function uninterruptedly as designed by God. Natural resources are the bounties of nature for humanity and these invaluable boons should be utilized wisely.

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