Mayor Sonthaya leads high-ranking delegation in paying homage
Sunday January 13, 2019, marked a very important and holy day on the Sikh calendar. This was the day that Sikhs all over the world gathered at Gurdwaras (Sikh Temples) to celebrate Guru Gobind Singh Ji Gurpurab marking the birth of the tenth Guru on 22 December 1666.
Devout Sikh residents of Pattaya made a special pilgrimage to the Siri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara in Soi 17, where special programmes were arranged such as reading the Holy Scriptures and singing kirtans (religious songs) continuously for 48 hours.
On this most auspicious occasion the Sikh congregation was honoured by the visit of Mayor Sonthaya Kunplome and his delegation including Deputy Mayor Poramet Ngampiches, Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasing, Deputy Mayor Pattana Boonsawat, Picharn and Warakorn Viriyaphan owners of the Santuary of Truth, Siripong Sommun, Director of the Chonburi Religion, Arts and Culture Promotion Group. On arrival they were greeted by Amrik Singh Kalra, Chairman of the Sikh Temple Association.
At the end of the prayer session, Vice Chairman of the Sikh temple, Paramjit Singh Gogar related the history of the Sikh religion to the distinguished visitors saying, “Guru Nanak Dev Ji founded Sikhism in the 15th century. He advocated equality of races and genders and rejected worship of idols. Sikhism broke away from Hinduism and Islam, the main religions of India. Sikhism is not just a form of religion or belief, but a form of Faith, in One Supreme Power that reigns beyond the scope of time and space. Sikhism has about 27 million followers world-wide, most of whom live in India.
“Today we are celebrating Guru Gobind Singh Ji Gurpurab. Gupurabs or festivals are anniversaries associated with the lives of the Sikh Gurus.”
Paramjit went on with his narration, much to the interest of the honourable visitors, “Guru Gobind Singh was the last of the ten Sikh Gurus. Guru Gobind Singh was born to Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth Sikh guru, and Mata Gujri in Patna, Bihar, India. He succeeded his father Guru Tegh Bahadur as the tenth Sikh Guru, leader of Sikhs.
“Shri Guru Gobind Singh is notable for founding of the Khalsa in 1699. Khalsa meaning ‘pure’ are Sikhs who have undergone the sacred Amrit Ceremony, the drinking of the ‘nectar of immortality’. They were warriors with a duty to protect the innocent from any form of religious persecution.
“Guru Gobind Singh in all his wisdom initiated the ‘Physical articles of faith including the 5 Ks’.
“Dastar: Turban. A symbol of royalty and dignity. Historically the turban has been held in high esteem in eastern and Middle Eastern cultures. Guru Gobind Singh transformed this cultural symbol into a religious requirement so that the Khalsa would always have high self-esteem. It differentiates Sikhs from other religious followers who keep long hair but wear caps or keep matted hair. The turban cannot be covered by any other head gear or replaced by a cap or hat. The turban is mandatory for Sikh men and optional for Sikh women.
“Kesh: Long unshorn hair. A symbol of spirituality. The Kesh reminds a Khalsa to behave like the Gurus. It is a mark of dedication and group consciousness, showing a Khalsa’s acceptance of God’s will. Long hair has long been a common element of many spiritual prophets of various religions such as Jesus, Moses and Buddha.
“Kangha: Comb. A symbol of hygiene and discipline as opposed to the matted unkempt hair of ascetics. A Khalsa is expected to regularly wash and comb their hair as a matter of self-discipline.
“Kara: Steel bracelet. A symbol to remind the wearer of restraint in their actions and remembrance of God at all times.
“Kachha: Drawers. A symbol signifying self-control and chastity.
“Kirpan: Ceremonial Sword. A symbol of dignity and the Sikh struggle against injustice. It is worn purely as a religious symbol and not as a weapon.
“After Guru Gobind Singh’s passing, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (the Sikh Holy Scripture) was venerated as the eternal Guru, the highest religious and spiritual guide for the Sikhs.”
Mayor Sonthaya said that he was very impressed to listen to the story of the Sikhs and he felt blessed for having made this pilgrimage to the Sikh temple. “I feel like I’m making merit,” he said.
The mayor said that he was very familiar with the Sikh community in Thailand especially here in Pattaya. “My friendship with the Sikh community goes back decades. You were one of the first pioneers of this town going back almost 50 years. Pattaya recognises you and thanks you for your steadfastness and dedication in the development of our city and society.”
Mayor Kunplome spoke of the developments and improvements made to the city, the infrastructure and the environment. He pointed out the incredible improvements made to our beaches which are attracting more visitors to our town.
In closing the mayor extended his hand of friendship to the Sikh community saying, “If for any reason you need our assistance in any matter, please don’t hesitate to contact me or my team.”
The most eventful morning of prayer and celebration ended with the Langar or community lunch which was served to people of all walks of life and of all faiths. Local volunteers served it with a spirit of Seva (service) and Bhakti (devotion).