Sikh holy book turns 400 years old

By Salima Stanley-Bhanji

This week marks the 400th anniversary of the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book and teacher of the Sikh faith.

“It’s a milestone, it’s a tribute to our holy book which is our current spiritual teacher,” said Manpreet Sidhu, an Executive Member of the Calgary Dasmesh Mission, founded in 1999 to educate Sikh youth about the Sikh religion and its history. “It’s a time to reflect on remembrance.”

The Guru Granth Sahib numbers some one thousand pages and includes writings from prominent Muslim and Hindu spiritualists.

“It takes three days to read the Guru Granth Sahib if you read it all night and day,” stated Bicky Sangha, a fourth year accounting student at Mount Royal College.

“Sikhs are supposed to read the book,” commented Sangha. “But is so hard in this generation, there are so many distractions that it is hard to stay true¬≠–I guess that’s the test.”

The Sikh faith was founded by Guru Gobind Singh the tenth guru, who before his death announced that the holy book of the Guru Granth Sahib would serve as a living guru to Sikhs.

“The way the Gurus wrote the book, it can apply from generation to generation,” explained Sangha. “Any question I have ever had, by reading the book, I’ve never had any doubts.”

“The Guru Granth Sahib is a collection of writings which emphasizes the irrelevance of caste and race and condemns these types of distinctions,” explained Professor Michael Hawley, who teaches religious studies at the U of C and Mount Royal College. “Devotion of the heart and sincerity are important aspects of the Sikh religious tradition that was officially formed in 1699.”

The Sikh faith also believes in equality for all people and encourages Sikhs to learn about other faiths.

“I think once you know about other religions you can understand your own religion better,” said Sangha.

The Sikh community in Calgary, which numbers some 30,000 people, takes this commitment to equality seriously in its contributions to the community at large.

This year the community is conducting a $1 million campaign for the Alberta Children’s Hospital.

“We are using the 400 year celebration as a launch to promote more community development within the City of Calgary. So far we have raised over $70,000 and the campaign hasn’t been launched yet,” said Sidhu. “Sharing your earnings with others is a key tenet of the Sikh faith.”

This Friday, a dinner will be hosted at the Sun Centre to celebrate the quad centennial of the Guru Granth Sahib. The City of Calgary is expected to make an important proclamation to the Sikh community at this event.

“Every year there is a celebration, but since this is the 400th year, it’s a huge celebration for us,” said Sangha.

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