In a great triumph by Akal Purakh Vaheguru for the Panth, with the grace of Satguru Ji, Gurdwara ‘SikhTemple Chapeltown’, Leeds will no longer allow parties, alcohol, and meat on any of its premises, and as a result the anti-gurmat activity that had been ongoing for more than 25 years has now come to an end.
The Sikh community is indebted to the local sangat and the management committee for their momentous and principled decision and is grateful for the guidance and direction from Akal Takhat Sahib for helping resolve this longstanding issue. A Sandesh from theAkal Takht that party halls should not have any association to Gurdwaras was issued in April 2006 and Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti personally condemned the actions of the Leeds Gurdwara setup. Upon being requested by the Sikh Sangat both locally and nationally the committee previously said that they would make efforts to change the setup. However nothing to date had been done.
Leeds Chapeltown Gurdwara complex had for some years been the scene of disgraceful, anti-Gurmat scenes. Thecomplex consists of the Gurdwara with a party hall about 15 metres adjacent to it. The fact such activities were allowed to carry on in a building which is part of the Gurdwara estate was bad enough, however visitors to the hall would regularly smoke and drink in the shared car park, and sometimes the loudbeats from music played in the building next door would be heard over the sublime kirtan inside GuruJi’s Durbar.
Originally there were discussions about moving these activities into a community centre across the road about 50 metres away and to turn the building next door into a school. But this again proved unacceptable as the property would still be part of the Gurdwara estate and as purchased through Guru Ji’s golak.
On Sunday 21st January 2007, many concerned Sikh sangat from around the country travelled to the Gurdwara and a representative was allowed to share their concerns with the Sangat and appeal to the conscience of the wider local sangat. With Satguru ji’s grace, the local Sangat unanimously decided that these anti-Gurmat activities should no longer be allowed to continue in any part of the Gurdwara estate, be it next door or across the road.
Upon the decision by the sangat, the Gurdwara President reflected: “They (sangat from outside the area) came and they did their duty in front of us (sadhsangat) today. We apologise that we didn’t do what they have achieved. We were asleep until they woke us up and exposed what has been going on in front of you. We thank them on behalf of all the sangat for this day. We feel ashamed today as we knew the goings on in the hall were wrong and against Sikh maryada, but we still allowed it to carry on. We are happy today that the issue was raised with us and that the parties, alcohol or meat will not be allowed on any of our premises.”
This decision was made by the sangat in the presence of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. A written agreement was also made and all future parties cancelled. The Gurdwara will assist those who have already booked parties and apologise for the inconvenience caused. Of course these activities at Leeds Gurdwara are not isolated to this Gurdwara. The message that was sent out by Akal Takht Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti, the Gurdwara Parbhandaks, and the Sangat is that anti-Gurmat activity will no longer be tolerated on any part of the Gurdwara estate.
Resonating this move in Leeds, an appeal goes out to all Gurdwara Committees that wherever such activities are allowed these must be brought to an end if we truly call ourselves Sikhs of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. There are many needs within the community which can be served by such halls without needing to compromise Gurmat and contradict the divine values enshrined inGurbani. Teaching of Gurmat, our children’s education, needs of elders, activities for women and young people, are all too often neglected in favour of halls for parties. The Sikh community needs to re-assess its priorities and quite rightly the first priority must be respect for Sahib Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji and the upholding of Sikhi Gurmat values.
Respect For Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji Campaign
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"All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing"