Marking 550 years of Sikh faith in year-long celebrations

Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran (third from left), Sikh Advisory Board chairman Surjit Singh (second from left) and former MP Inderjit Singh (fifth from left) serving dinner to members of the Sikh community at the Central Sikh
Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran (third from left), Sikh Advisory Board chairman Surjit Singh (second from left) and former MP Inderjit Singh (fifth from left) serving dinner to members of the Sikh community at the Central Sikh Temple in Towner Road yesterday.ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

To commemorate 550 years of the Sikh faith, year-long celebrations with a line-up of activities have been planned for Sikhs as well as Singaporeans of other faiths.

For the Sikh community, this year marks the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, founder of the faith, who was born in 1469.

Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran, who launched the celebrations at the Central Sikh Temple in Towner Road yesterday, commended the small community for contributing to nation-building efforts and distinguishing itself in many fields, ranging from education to law.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the event, he said: "The community has left a mark on Singapore, not just in terms of the economic aspects but also in its social development. It has added great vibrancy and vitality to the fabric of Singapore society."

A major initiative in the celebrations is the Sewa Pledge, where the community has set the goal of collectively clocking 550,000 hours of volunteer service this year.

The pledge was started last November with the aim of rallying the 12,000-strong Sikh community here to give back to society.

Already, it is more than a quarter of the way to the goal, with almost 150,000 hours clocked.

The year-long celebrations will also include a heritage day in June to raise awareness of Sikhism, as well as a harmony walk in August that will include representatives of other faiths.

Former MP Inderjit Singh, who heads the steering committee for the celebrations, said that some of the initiatives do not just cater to the Sikh community but are also meant to reach out to other Singaporeans.

Mr Iswaran, who was joined by about 1,000 Sikhs at yesterday's event, said the fact that the small Sikh community is able to thrive in multiracial Singapore is a testament to the country's commitment to having an inclusive society.

"This very harmonious state of affairs that we have among ourselves, across different religions, is remarkable, precious and something we should never take for granted," he added.

Calvin Yang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 15, 2019, with the headline 'Marking 550 years of Sikh faith in year-long celebrations'. Print Edition | Subscribe