Gurbani rings out at UK Parliament complex

by Antariksh Singh

The venerable halls of the Houses of Parliament in London echoed with the soul-stirring melodies of Gurbani this week, marking a historic celebration of Baisakhi, unlike any seen before.

Hosted by the esteemed British Indian think-tank, the 1928 Institute, in collaboration with diaspora membership organizations City Sikhs and the British Punjabi Welfare Association (BPWA), the event drew together a diverse array of professionals, community leaders, and philanthropists. Set against the backdrop of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Room, Monday evening witnessed a convergence of minds and spirits, dedicated to spotlighting the enduring bond between the UK and India, and the invaluable contributions of the Sikh community to British society.

Steering the proceedings was Jasvir Singh, Chair of City Sikhs, orchestrating an evening that intertwined impassioned speeches with the soul-soothing strains of Gurbani, performed by the Anahad Kirtan Society.

Reflecting on the significance of the occasion, Kiran Kaur Manku, co-chair of the 1928 Institute, remarked, “It’s a real honor to celebrate Baisakhi, the auspicious occasion marking the birth of the Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699. Baisakhi not only heralds the genesis of the Khalsa but also encapsulates its profound teachings, centered on the principles of equality, the dismantling of hierarchies, egos, and fears.”

She further elucidated, “Today, we also commemorate the Prakash, the luminous birth anniversary of Guru Teg Bahadur, the ninth Guru, revered for his unwavering commitment to justice and equality. Known as the ‘Shield of India,’ Guru Teg Bahadur fearlessly championed the rights of all, ultimately sacrificing his life for the greater good. His teachings, along with those of Guru Gobind Singh, form the bedrock of the Sikh identity, guiding our actions and ethos to this day.”

In attendance were cross-party parliamentarians, including the esteemed British Sikh Labour member of Parliament, Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, and Labour’s shadow minister for Asia and the Pacific, Catherine West. Their presence, alongside luminaries such as Baroness Sandy Verma and South Asia Minister Lord Tariq Ahmad, underscored the significance of the event, which is poised to become a cherished fixture in the parliamentary calendar.

Param Singh, Co-Chair of City Sikhs, emphasized the enduring relevance of the Khalsa’s values, stating, “Guru Gobind Singh’s legacy transcends time, offering Sikhism and humanity a blueprint for a community grounded in equality, regardless of gender, caste, or creed. The spirit of the Khalsa, rooted in selfless service and societal protection, continues to inspire Sikhs worldwide, shaping their endeavors for a more just and inclusive society.”

As the strains of Gurbani reverberated through the hallowed halls of Parliament, the Baisakhi celebration served as a poignant reminder of the timeless principles of unity, equality, and compassion that lie at the heart of Sikhism, resonating not only within the Sikh community but echoing throughout the fabric of British society.

Antariksh Singh

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