The simple fact about gurdwaras is that they belong to the public at large. Donations from thousands of individuals are utilised for their building and up-keep. No one can claim to own them as they are places of worship and are open to all (Photo by: IndiaPictures/UIG via Getty Images).


by Dr Rami Ranger

A RECENT video on social media has gone viral, showing a young Sikh man arguing with Charanjeet Singh, the deputy high commissioner of India, at the Shepherd’s Bush gurdwara in west London.

The man was trying to stop the diplomat from paying his respects to the Sikh gurus. He was subjected to an unprovoked or deal, but he behaved in a dignified manner throughout and left the gurdwara peacefully.

Banning Indian diplomats from any gurdwara will prove counterproductive for Sikhs at large. Many will stop going to gurdwara if they become places of politics instead of worship.

Besides, in some parts of the world, more non-Sikhs attend gurdwaras than the Sikhs and also contribute to the upkeep of gurdwaras like the rest.

The behaviour of the young man is totally against the teachings of the Sikh gurus who stood for unity and love for all. Our gurus ensured that every Sikh gurdwara has four doors to welcome people from every direction, every faith. Our langar (communal kitchen) bears testament to this fact, where people from every race and faith are welcome.

The Sikh gurus, in fact, stood up against tyranny and injustice and for this man to argue with the representative of a democratically elected government of India is a total disgrace. Our gurus never imposed their will on others, unlike this man Bhai Kanhaiya, a disciple of Guru Gobind Singhji, even offered medical aid to enemy combatants and that is the real Sikh spirit.

The simple fact about gurdwaras is that they belong to the public at large. Donations from thousands of individuals are utilised for their building and up-keep. No one can claim to own  them as they are places of worship and are open to all.

No gurdwara has the right to ban anyone unless, of course, the person in question is acting against the interests of the gurdwara or disturbing the peace.

It is totally unacceptable to mistreat or misbehave with any member of the Indian mission. They are there to represent our motherland India and also protect our interests in foreign countries. They have the right to address the congregation, to pass on their personal greetings as well as information about the policies of the Indian government, especially when it is going to celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Devji on an unparalleled scale across the world.

I was also appalled by the gurdwara management committee for taking no action against the person who made a spectacle of himself and brought shame to us and our gurus. It is the moral ob-ligation of the committee to en-sure the safety and security of every guest. I hope it will extend its unreserved apologies to the Indian envoy with assurances that such acts will never be tolerated again in a place of worship.