Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh Ahluwalia Chairperson – BSCF
12th Vaisakhi House of Commons Speakers Room, 17 April 2018,
Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh
Mr. Speaker, Lords, Members of Parliament and belovedBrothers and Sisters, it is a privilege to share some thoughts with you on this most auspicious occasion. Vaisakhi is universally celebrated by Sikhs as the day when Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the tenth Sikh Guru, created the Khalsa order in 1699. The Khalsa’s birth, 319 years ago, marked the fruition of the vision nurtured and demonstrated for over two centuries by nine earlier Gurus. It also formalized the initiation ceremony by which Sikhs take on a distinctive identity, through the wearing of the 5Ks and the turban.
Vaisakhi takes place in the Punjabi month of Vaisakh. In Sri Guru Granth Sahib – the volume of scripture which was exalted to the status of eternal Guru in 1708- scriptural verses about this time of year can be found in separate compositions by the first and fifth Gurus. In both depictions, Vaisakh is a time for joyous celebrations, reflections and resolutions, for gratitude, sacrifice and commitment, as well as a time to exercise compassion, forgiveness and love for all. Through the Khalsa’s creation, the tenth Guru consolidated these underlying messages passed down from his predecessors.
The first Guru, Guru Nanak Dev Ji, composed his message in Raag Tukhari, a melodic form which evokes the mindfulness of a Yogi who contemplates the pangs of separation and the ecstasy of being connected to God Almighty. In parallel, this verse draws on the analogy of a bride awaiting her longed-for husband, it depicts how, in the month of Vaisakh, nature reveals its many colours and elegant beauty and it reminds us of the golden opportunity before us to embrace and connect up with God.
The fifth Guru, Guru Arjan Dev Ji, composed his message in Raag Maajh, a melodic form associated with a region of central Punjab. The composition takes the converse strategy of considering the adverse effects of separating ourselves from God, through distraction or delusion. It reminds us that the month of Vaisakh is truly beautiful and joyful upon restoring our spiritual connection and blossoming with spiritual virtues emanating from God.
Thus, whilst Vaisakhi, for Sikhs, marks the strengthening of their identity, it also demands the making of an inward pledge to nurture the spiritual bond with God and live by the code of values taught by the Gurus, based on principles of utter humility, steadfastness, selflessness, altruism, truth, commitment, cooperation, contentment, compassion, forgiveness, love, courage, dedication – and also of char di kala, or ascending optimism.
This Vaisakhi, as Prime Minister May has noted this year, is “a time to remember the importance of family and community”. Certainly, the Khalsa order evokes for Sikhs around the world a sense of family and fraternity. Sikhs also understand that the Khalsa was created as a force for good to serve our wider human family, wherever tyranny, hypocrisy or neglect of others take hold.
Today, as our world is immersed in the clouds of war, conflict and destruction, may the spiritual traits associated with the Khalsa’s creation resonate with all human minds for the common good – only then can we truly rejoice and celebrate the occasion of Vaisakhi.