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Squamish Sikhs invite the community to join in celebrations of Sikhism founder

Weeklong celebration of the 550th anniversary of the birth of Guru Nanak to be held at the Sikh Temple from Nov. 10 to 17
The Squamish Sikh Temple on Fifth Avenue.

Though he lived more than 500 years ago, Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, progressively trumpeted women's rights and equality, according to the Squamish Sikh Society's Avtar Gidda.

"Nanak is the first preacher who talked about the equality of the woman," said Gidda.

"[Nanak said], 'Woman is the mother. She gives birth to the religious people, the philosophers, the kings, and queens. You can't live without a woman.'"

The Squamish Sikh Society is preparing for the weeklong celebration of the 550th year since the birth of Nanak, the first guru in the Sikh religion.

Everyone — Sikh and non-Sikh alike — is invited to the Guru Nanak Gurpurab events, which run from Nov. 10 to 17, at the Gurdwara (Sikh Temple) on Fifth Avenue.

Each evening will include langar (food served in the community kitchen) and prayers from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Special, 24-hour prayers will be held Nov. 15, 16 and 17.

Nanak's birth is celebrated by Sikhs around the world.


Last week, Pakistan's government introduced a new coin to honour the birthday of Nanak, who was born in Sri Nankana Sahib, Pakistan.

In addition to fighting for equality, Nanak argued the object of life is not to secure release from it — as some religions hold — but to strive toward a truly moral or spiritual lifestyle, according to Gidda.

"In this world, most of the wars, most of the difficulties are when men don't want to listen to other people," Gidda said.

Nanak preached that only God knows the real truth so humans should put their egos and interpretations aside.

"What you are saying is maybe right and maybe wrong, but God knows how he created, why he created, when he created....  Leave your ego and try to live as a human being — a universal brother — respect each other and be part of the human race. Don't fight each other in the name of the Lord. Don't fight about the creation of the Lord and how he went. Live in a righteous way in the world now," Gidda said reciting Nanak's teachings.

Those who are unfamiliar with Sikhism and its protocols don't need to feel hesitant about coming out to the temple for the upcoming celebrations, Gidda stressed.

Everything is provided and members of the temple present at the event will help newcomers through the process.

"We provide everything," he said. "We will answer any questions."

photo celebration
Members of the Squamish Sikh Temple who are preparing for the weeklong celebrations. Avtar Gidda is third from the left. - Eli Cornell