Mono recognizes Sikh Heritage Month

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April 8, 2021 · 0 Comments

By Peter Richardson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

April is Sikh Heritage Month in Canada and the Town of Mono marked the occasion with a flag raising on April 1.

The Sikhs travelled from the Punjab Region of Northern India, to Canada at the end of the 19th century and today there are in excess of 500,000 Sikhs living here.

The Sikhs have a long and rich heritage. Sikh soldiers were part of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in Hong Kong, in 1897. Most people will remember Sikhs as carrying their ceremonial daggers and wearing the colorful turbans of India, but this is only a small part of their heritage.

Sikhs have been in Canada since 1904 and have been part of the fight for equality. They have built industries and provide services that many Canadians rely upon. That amounts to 120 years of struggle, hard work and successes. The Sikhs in Canada are the second largest Sikh population in the world. Ontario was the first Province to recognize Sikh Heritage Month, in 2013, followed by B.C. in 2017 and then by the federal government in 2019.

Sikhs gather around the world in April to celebrate Vaisakhi, the birth of the Khalsa or baptized Sikhs, by Guru Gobind Singh Ji the 10th Sikh Guru, in 1699.

he term Sikh, is from the word “sisya”, meaning disciple or student. A male Sikh, generally has Singh or Lion as his middle or last name and female Sikhs have Kaur or princess as their middle or last name. Those Sikhs who have undergone the Khande-ki-Pahul or Khanda, an initiation ceremony known as Amrit, are from the day of their initiation required to have on their bodies five K’s. 1st, Kesh or uncut hair, which is kept covered by a dastar or turban. Second, Kara, an iron or seal bracelet. Third, Kirput the traditional dagger tucked into a gates strap or a kamal kasar belt. Fourth, Kachera, a cotton undergarment. Fifth, Kanga, which is a small wooden comb.

There have been many notable Sikhs throughout the world. Manmohan Singh, served as Indian Prime Minister from 2004 to 2014. He was the first Sikh in office and the first prime minister since Jawaharlal Nehru to be reelected after serving a full five-year term. American Nikki Haley, format governor for South Carolina and UN Ambassador was raised a Sikh. Nuclear scientist and Manhattan Project participant Piara Singh Gill, fibre-optics pioneer Narinder Singh Kapany and physicist Simon Sigh were all prominent Sikhs.

The Town of Mono raised the Sikh flag at Town Hall on the morning of April 1. April is Sikh Heritage Month for all of Canada.

Peter Richardson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Orangeville Citizen