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Five Kakars recognized by British Columbia Assembly
Dr. Raghbir Singh Bains, Surrey, Canada
Victoria; March 20, 2006. After unanimous decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in recognizing the wearing of Kirpan by the Sikh students in educational institutions throughout the country, British Columbia has become the second province in Canada to recognize Vaisakhi and the Five articles of Sikh Faith in a row. The Province of Manitoba was the first province in Canada to grant such recognition to the Five Kakars of the Sikhs on July 13, 1999. This motion is already underway in the province of Ontario. The motion #49 for recognition of Vaisakhi and the five Sikh Kakars was tabled by Jagrup Singh Brar NDP MLA in the Assembly of British Columbia. The purpose of this motion is to recognize and reaffirm the values of multiculturalism, human rights, equality, racial and religious tolerance in B.C especially the recognition of Vaisakhi and Articles of Sikh Faith..
Sukhdeep Singh (Dave) Hayer, a senior MLA of the BC Liberal party, supported the motion. He retold the history of the Sikhs when Khalsa was initiated by Guru Gobind Singh on the day of Vaisakhi at Sri Kesgarh Sahib in 1699 to stand for justice, dignity of meek and weak. He went on supporting the motion by saying that that B.C. was the first province in Canada to celebrate and pass a proclamation recognizing the 400 years of Guru Granth Sahib Ji in the Golden Temple in Amritsar.
Honorable Minister Micheal De Jong and house leader, who recently came back from his short visit of Punjab, appreciated the nobility of the Sikh people and paid his tribute to the Sikh pioneers who came to Canada more than a century ago and contributed vigorously to the prosperity of British Columbia. He supported the motion of recognition of Vaisakhi and five Articles of Sikh Faith with full fervor.
Harbhajan Singh Lali, a senior MLA of NDP gave a brief account of the excellent and brave history of the Sikhs on this historic day in the Assembly. He was enthusiastic to see this motion passed in the House.
While taking part in the debate, Mary Polak MLA said in the Assembly, “Rare is the initiative that finds support from both sides of this chamber. The values represented by the five Ks are universal. They are values that speak to us as individuals, regardless of our own religion or culture. Truly, the ideals advanced by Guru Gobind Singh are crying out to be embraced by a modern culture that often focuses only on commercial or material success”.
Gordon Hogg Government Caucus Chair repeated the motion on behalf of the B.C. Liberal Caucus, “Be it resolved that this house recognizes the importance of the anniversary of the creation of the Khalsa, celebrated every year as the festival of Vaisakhi; and the contributions Canadian Sikhs have made to our country and our province; and that this house also recognize the importance of the Panj Kakkaar: the Kirpan—a ceremonial sword representing indomitable spirit; the Kes—unshorn hair, representing a simple life, saintliness and devotion to God; Kangha—a wooden comb worn to represent a clean mind and body; and the Kachha—short breeches, representing hygienic living”.
Other Sikh MLA’s who strongly supported the motion on recognition of the Articles of Sikh Faith were Harry Singh Bains, Raj Chouhan and their other colleagues. Many of the MLA’s mentioned unfortunate story of Komagata Maru when in 1914 its Indian passengers were not allowed to touch an inch of Canadian land and they were forced to leave the Canadian shores. They reminded the people of the message of Guru Gobind Singh regarding commitment to equality, dignity and justice, for he has chosen to respond to the irrational fears of others with great equanimity and patience.
It has been the historic occasion for the Sikhs worldwide when a new history has been created by the Provincial Assembly of British Columbia. All the MLA’s who took part in debate started their address by saying Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh ! The gallery was fully occupied by the Sikhs hailing from throughout Canada to say thank you to the legislators who made this happen. Amusingly, all the Kirpan wearing visitors were allowed for the first time to enter the assembly without asking them to take the Kirpan off. All the19 MLA’s from ruling and opposition party who took part in one hour debate supported the motion with one voice. It was the historic day when both ruling party and opposition party congratulated each other for bringing the motion on five Articles of Sikh Faith. The motion was unanimously passed by the house of 79 MLA’s. For most of the time, House proceedings were chaired by Dy Speaker Sindy Hawkins (Surinder Kaur) who was fare enough to give 3minutes to each speaker in the House.
Sikhism is a religion of Divine love. It is more than 500 years old. It is the youngest religion in the world with over 25 million followers living in 157 countries of the world. The Sikh identity, especially for those who live elsewhere other than in India, is so marked by external and visible signs that sometimes people don’t see them and their beliefs for what they truly are.
Sikh religion requires its practicing followers (Amritdhari-baptized Sikhs) to wear five articles of Sikh faith. These integral and indispensable articles constantly remind the commitment of the follower to universal principles of justice, peace and equality. Sikh religion teaches pacifism and encourages respect for other religions. Wearing of the Articles of Sikh faith for the devout Sikhs is held a sacred religious belief and is not capricious.
With passing of the unanimous motion in recognition of both Vaisakhi and five Sikh Kakars, a new responsibility has fallen on the shoulders of the Sikh community who have already contributed immensely in the social, economic, academic and political fields of the country. Now the Sikhs need to contribute more diligently and positively in a different way towards development of British Columbia and Canada. This will be an opportunity for them to create awareness about Sikhism and paying a great tribute to the pioneers who worked hard for future of their posterities to live in Canada with peace and dignity.
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