Tuesday, December 4, 2018
Sikh community in New Zealand, an inspiring story
There's something about being a New Zealander that makes me very proud -- and that is the fact that anyone can walk through the grounds of Parliament without being accosted by police, or checked by security. It is a surprisingly informal space, where children play, students hold meetings, office workers eat their packed lunches, and young men can hurl frisbees. Sometimes there are brass bands, and at other times there are protest meetings, where petitions are handed to politicians who come out, smiling or serious, willing to listen, and happy to talk, and completely unafraid, though unescorted by any kind of secret service.
Last Friday was a little different. The grounds were crowded with Sikhs, all looking extremely happy. Tables were out, and food was being served to anyone who might look hungry. "You should be holding a cricket match," I observed to a smiling gentleman, and he and his friends enjoyed the joke -- after all, the major news on the Indian Weekender is invariably the latest cricket score.
I did wonder what the happy occasion might be. Well, it turned out that it was the 549th birthday of their first Guru and the founder of the Sikh faith – Guru Nanak Dev. According to the Weekender, it was celebrated all over New Zealand. Wellington was special, however, as Jenny Salesa, the Minister of Ethnic Communities, was their guest. “I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the significant contributions made by New Zealand’s small, but deeply committed Sikh community. These contributions, on both cultural and social levels, are recognised by the Government,” she said.
Coincidentally, a stirring and sterling example of Sikh contributions to New Zealand society is described in the current issue of the magazine North & South. Writes Josie Stanford, "I’m sitting in a black jeep with four Sikh men driving through the streets of South Auckland at dusk. With an orange scarf protecting my crown chakra in traditional fashion, I let their sing-song chant wash over me. Driver Delpreet Singh explains the continuous prayer keeps them focused on their mission: service."