Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Sikhism, Language and Peace

Our summer school visited the Guru Nanak Sevak Jatha in Birmingham. I have only had the experience of visiting the Gurudwara in Glasgow and was totally amazed by this one in Birmingham. It was at a much grander scale and I was taken aback by the beautiful dome. During our tour we were told that the cut glass work that decorates the dome was done by a Muslim who offered his services as he walked past the site in progress. We had a wonderful talk by the ‘Pai Sahb Ji’ (see photo), an honourable title given to an elder brother, he spoke about faith, spirituality and of doing good things in the world. He spoke from the heart and there was little that I did not agree with. The site also houses some shops which are an income to the work that the Sikhs are undertaking. They have put together a gym, for men and women, and also an employment centre which helps unskilled migrants to learn about something new. We visited the main hall where the Guru Granth Sahib was placed and some of us took the special sweet offering during this brief visit. We also ate in the communal eating place called the Langur which was very nice. I had a giggle with the old man serving me hot milk after I refused it he said ‘it make you sleep better!’.

Language is a great thing and the way in a lot of South Asians share languages such as Punjabi is great at breaking down religious barriers. Let us not forget that Guru Nanak had two great friends, one a Muslim and the other a Hindu. Maybe we have a lot to learn about interfaith work from the founder of Sikhism.

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