Sikhs are among the most widely spread communities around the world and their ability to forge a unique bond with the people of the land and migrants in the case of the advanced countries of the world, has been a source of inspiration for many.
Since their arrival in New Zealand almost 125 years ago, the Sikh community has been an important partner in the country’s progress and prosperity and involvement in the socio-economic issues have made them a significant segment of the society.
Known for their hard work and commitment, the Sikhs also conscientiously promote their religious, traditional, moral and social values. They are also respected for their ability to pursue their beliefs and practices, overcoming the challenges posed by members of other ethnic groups.
In New Zealand, the presence of the Sikh community is increasingly felt in almost all sectors of the economy and the society. A number of Sikhs have made it to the New Zealand Police and proudly wear the traditional gears along with their blue uniform.
While the community organises a number of events throughout the year at its Gurdwaras, Baisakhi is among the most popular festivals, bringing together tens of thousands of people from various walks of life.
In view of the diverse activities organised by more than one group, Baisakhi is often celebrated before, on and after the actual day on which it occurs.
Baisakhi (or Vaisakhi) is among the most significant festivals for Punjabis who pride themselves of belonging to a land, which energised India’s green revolution. As an event marking the harvest season, it brings with it joy and prosperity.
As well as keeping pace with the times and integrating into the society in which they live, Sikhs retain their traditional and cultural values, along with the teachings of the Founder of their religion, Guru Nanak.
His words of wisdom continue to inspire Sikhs and people of other religions and faiths throughout the world. He emphasised the significance of unity, peace and harmony as the foundation of social progress.
Guru Nanak spent more than two decades travelling to various parts of India, teaching people the importance of seeking oneness and orderliness in their lives, emphasising the importance of communal harmony.
He sought the simplest possible path of ‘Nam-Simaran,’ commemoration of His name, which beyond form and rites enabled man to enter into intimate communion with God. He discovered in commemoration of ‘Nam,’ the gist of all rites and the instrument of realising and communicating with the Formless One, without losing his way into the cobwebs of formal rituals.
The simplest possible path of reaching Him is through ‘Nam-Simaran.’ It turned the eye from beyond to within, from riverbank to its waters’ depths, and opened the all-perceiving window inside, and it is here, inside oneself, that one finds Him enshrining.
Guru Nanak said that the Beloved one was not far from Him who sought Him within him. As the Formless One is also without a Nam, the Nam that one gives to Him represents his own vision of Him.
Thus, a thing within oneself, the communion with Him, through ‘Nam’, his only manifest form of Him, is more intimate and incessant.
Guru Nanak emphasised on equality among all and fraternity as the highest principles of living. Instead of seeking to isolate, as did meditation or other austerities, his path attributed as much sanctity to Nam-Simaran in commune as individually. Farther than this, in his concepts of Dharmashala, a form of ‘Sangat’ (commune), and Pangat or Langar, a form of community kitchen for all to dine together without discrimination, he not only underlined the need of a strong community life but also of personal goodness, sociability, harmony and equality among all.
Guru Nanak said, “What we sow, that alone we take.”
He forbade worship of idols or form, or worship performed out of fear or for gain, objectives that usually inspired idol-worship.