Squamish Sikh Society invites all to sacred event, June 22

Parade, speeches and free food honour ideals of the fifth guru, Guru Arjan Dev Ji — harmony, equality, sharing

His tenets of equality and dignity for all cannot be quashed. That is one of the messages behind the annual Squamish Sikh Society event commemorating the martyrdom of the fifth guru, the first Sikh martyr, Guru Arjan Dev Ji, which takes place this year on Saturday, June 22.

Everyone is invited to this free, religious event that includes a parade, speeches, and food for all, (called Guru Ka Langar), the society's Nimerjit Thandi told The Chief.

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Last year, more than 2,000 people attended, according to organizers, Thandi said.

This is the 14th anniversary of the event in Squamish.

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Squamish Sikh Society's Avtar Gidda and Nimerjit Thandi in front of the Squamish Sikh Temple. - Jennifer Thuncher

According to Sikh tradition, the fifth guru, who was killed in June of 1606, was growing in popularity in South Asia as many came to hear his sermons about the importance of equality and respect. He preached that all castes and all creeds were equal.

"Guru was about harmony, human rights, social equality, liberty, fraternity — one god," the Squamish Sikh Society's Avtar Gidda told The Chief from the dining hall of the Sikh Temple on Monday. "We are the children of the same God. We have to live with co-operation with sympathy, love, and compassion. These are the kinds of things the guru was teaching," 

 Guru Arjan Dev is responsible for creating a holy scripture of all of the past Gurus' writings — the Guru Granth Sahib. In it, he included scripture of Muslims and Hindu saints.

He also declared that all Sikhs, if able, should donate a tenth of their earnings to charity.

His teachings angered then-Emperor of India Jahangir who sent for him to be arrested and threatened with death if he didn't stop spreading his messages. He refused to stop and the story goes, he was forced to sit on an iron hot plate while boiling hot sand was poured over his body, and still, he did not waver. He was taken to the river, and never seen again.

The Sikhs of Squamish commemorate his death and celebrate his message of free speech and fairness and freedom of all.

Gidda said sometimes people ask why in Squamish in 2019, this event still needs to be commemorated. He answers that these ideals are needed now, as ever.

"We want to carry it on so his ideas of liberty, of the dignity of the human soul, respect," he said. "We can progress, shoulder-to-shoulder." 

The event starts at 9 a.m. Saturday, June 22, beginning at the Gurdwara Baba Nanak Sahib (Sikh Temple). The parade will wind downtown to O’Siyam Pavilion Park. Activities run until 4 p.m.

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