March 23, 2011 | By Tejashdeep Singh
New York (March 23, 2011): The Board of Trustees of Gurdwara of Rochester (New York), to win their management dispute, has done the despicable misdeed of banning the Guru-gifted Kirpan by making false and misleading statements in the court of law. This action has lead to prohibiting the entry of Amritdharis into the Gurdwara. In the context of this despicable action, the World Sikh Council – America Region (WSC-AR) has been making every effort for a long time to emphasize, to the Board of Trustees (BOT) of Gurdwara of Rochester (GOR), the significance of Guru Gobind Singh Sahib’s gift of the five Kakaars to its beloved Khalsa, and has been trying to make them realize that any Sikh place that imposes any kind of restriction on any of the five Kakaars cannot be accepted as a Gurdwara. Despite this, they have misrepresented the significance of the Kakaars in their sworn affidavits to obtain a court order against wearing the Kirpan. For example:
1. “Furthermore, Sikhs can observe the so-called five K’s…” without bringing Kirpans into “…the GOR worship areas”.
2. “…most baptized Sikhs do not wear ceremonial swords for practical reasons. One way which has been used to meet the code requirements by baptized Sikhs is to carry a comb (Kanga) under their turbans. This comb has a small symbolic sword attached/pasted to it.”
3. The wearing of Kirpan is a “tradition” that can be honored by wearing a kanga bearing the “image of a small symbolic sword” or wearing “a small symbolic Kirpan on the end of a necklace around their necks…”.
4. The purpose of the BOT in asking for the order on Kirpan is to seek protection “…against violence and injury to worshippers at the GOR during Sunday services.”
In addition to the above statements, the Board of Trustees presented as evidence a picture of a full-sized unsheathed Kirpan that actually was displayed on the occasion of a Turban Day celebration in the Gurdwara, but was branded by the Board of Trustees as defiantly “brandishing of a naked large sword”.
WSC-AR was deeply disturbed by these actions and sworn affidavits because they belittle the Sikh Kakaars and jeopardize as well as undermine our efforts towards bringing an understanding of the Guru’s Kakaars to non-Sikhs.
After failing in all its attempts to engage the Board of Trustees of Rochester’s Gurdwara in dialogue and in getting the restrictions on the Kirpan lifted, WSC-AR was left with no alternative except to approach Siri Akal Takhat Sahib.
WSC-AR and the Sikh world strongly hail the letter issued by the Secretariat of Siri Akal Takhat Sahib on March 9, 2011. WSC-AR whole-heartedly thanks Siri Akal Takhat Sahib, because after earnestly discussing this serious issue with WSC-AR, they have now issued a letter from its Secretariat to S. Santokh Singh Badesha and the Gurdwara of Rochester Board of Trustees, directing them to provide clarification on their anti-Panth activities to the Secretariat, Siri Akal Takhat Sahib, before next steps are taken. An English translation of the original letter in Panjabi issued by Siri Akal Takhat Sahib is appended below.
The World Sikh Council – America Region (WSC-AR) is a representative and elected body of Sikh Gurdwaras and institutions in the United States. Its members include 46 Gurdwaras (Sikh places of worship) and other Sikh institutions, across the nation. WSC-AR works to promote Sikh interests at the national and international level focusing on issues of advocacy, education, and well-being of humankind.
Here is text of Statement of Sri Akal Takhat Sahib:
Secretariat, Siri Akal Takhat Sahib
Seal of Siri Akal Takhat Sahib
No. A: 3/11/3802
Date: March 9, 2011
S. Santokh Singh Badesha and the Board of Trustees of the Gurdwara of Rochester:
Vaheguru ji ka Khalsa
Vaheguru ji ki Fateh
It has come to our attention from reports on the management dispute of the Gurdwara Sahib at Rochester, and from studying the documents submitted by you on this issue to American Judge Kenneth Fisher of Monroe County (New York) that exploiting the American judges’ lack of complete knowledge about the Sikh faith, you have made highly misleading and false statements to them about the fundamental principles and rules of the Sikh faith. In these statements, you have mocked the holy Sikh Kakaars with the selfish motive of winning your lawsuit. Presenting the Guru’s gift – the holy Kirpan (Siri Sahib) – as a demon in the court, you have done the despicable misdeed of getting a ban enacted on it.
To fulfill these selfish aims of yours, you have gravely insulted the Guru Sahibaan’s seal, the holy Sikh Kakaars, by labeling them as ‘so-called’ Kakaars in your documents presented to the court. Continuing your false statements on the principle of the Sikh Kirpan and Khande-Baate-di-Pahul, despite your own cut Kes (hair), you have claimed yourself in the American court to be an Amritdhari Sikh, which is absolutely false and is nothing more than the despicable misdeed of mocking Khande-Baate’s code of conduct. According to the Sikh principles, code of conduct and tradition, a person who cuts his holy hair cannot be called a Sikh. Guru-Ghars belong to all, in which everybody has the freedom to come and pray. No devotee can be banned from coming to a Guru-Ghar. Amritdharis are particularly respected in the Guru-Ghar.
It is important to mention here that according to the Sikh traditions, the Sikh code of conduct and the definition of being a Sikh, any man or woman who desecrates hair by cutting them, has no right to be called an Amritdhari Sikh. A site or a religious place where there is any restriction of any kind on any of the Kakaars (Kirpan, Kanga, Kes, Kachh or Karra) gifted by Guru Sahib, such site or place absolutely does not retain the right to be called a Sikh Gurdwara. Thus, in the current unfortunate situation created by you at the Gurdwara Sahib at Rochester, while under the facade of a modification there is relief on bringing in a 4”-6” Kirpan, the ban on the complete freedom of Guru approved Kirpan is still in place unchanged. For these reasons, by the directive issued by the respected Jathedar Sahib, you are hereby directed to provide clarification on your these anti-Panth activities to the Secretariat, Siri Akal Takhat Sahib, before the next steps are taken.
Signature of Jaswinder Pal Singh
(Jaswinder Pal Singh)
Jathedar, Siri Akal Takhat Sahib
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