SINGAPORE - To commemorate 550 years of the Sikh faith, a year-long celebration with a line-up of activities has been planned for Sikhs and Singaporeans of other faiths.
For the Sikh community, this year marks the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, the 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 on Sunday (April 14), commended the small community for contributing to nation-building efforts and distinguishing itself in many different fields 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 our social development.
"They add great vibrancy and vitality to the fabric of Singapore society."
One major initiative in the year-long celebrations is the Sewa Pledge, where the community has set the goal to collectively clock 550,000 hours of volunteer service this year.
The pledge was started in November last year with the intention of rallying the 12,000-strong Sikh community to give back to society.
Already, it is more than a quarter-way to that goal, with almost 150,000 hours clocked.
The year-long celebrations will also include a heritage day in June to raise awareness about Sikhism, and a harmony walk in August which will include representatives from other faiths.
Former MP Inderjit Singh, who is heading the steering committee for the celebrations, said some of the initiatives do not just cater to the Sikh community but are meant to reach out to other Singaporeans as well.
Mr Iswaran, who was joined by about 1,000 Sikhs at the event, said the fact that the small Sikh community is able to thrive in multi-racial Singapore is a testament to the country's commitment to having an inclusive society.
"This very harmonious state of affairs that we have amongst ourselves, across different religions, is remarkable, precious and something we should never take for granted," he added.