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Sacrilege at Canada’s Abbotsford Gurdwara – Moderate Committee Faces Criticism For Lack of Maryada at Anand Karaj

ABBOTSFORD GURDWARA COMMITTEE FAILS TO GUIDE NEWLY WED COUPLE ABOUT GURDAWARA ETIQUETTE

ABBOTSFORD, BC, Canada—A picture that has been circulated on the internet, shows a newlywed couple sitting on chairs in front of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji at the Khalsa Diwan Society Gur Sikh Temple in Abbotsford, BC, Canada.  Due to the Gurdwara management committee’s lack of interest in preserving respect of Guru Granth Sahib, this Gurdwara is also referred to as the “Moderate Gurdwara” of Abbotsford.

Sikh24 has learned that the bride may have been unable to sit on the floor due to medical issues, however, despite having the option to do shagan in the langar hall or outside the darbar, the ceremony took place inside the Darbar Hall.  Several people have commented that the committee should have asked the couple to move outside of the Darbar Sahib as shagan is not considered part of the Anand Karaj even though it does take place inside the Darbar most of the time.  Shagan ceremony itself is often sacrilegious as it leads people to turn their backs towards the Guru or talk excessively as they pose for pictures while giving money to the couple.  This disrupts the serene environment of the Darbar.

The committee is also facing opposition by the Sikh Sangat for not enforcing Rehit Maryada and providing any guidance to the newly wed couple about required etiquette inside the Gurdwara.

As per Sri Akal Takht Sahib’s Code of Conduct, chairs are forbidden inside Gurdwaras expect for persons with disabilities.  Allowing anyone to sit on a chair in front of Guru Granth Sahib is not acceptable and considered blasphemous.  Everyone sits at an equal level regardless of caste, religion or social standing.

Unfortunately, the committee runs one of the oldest Gurdwaras in North America. The Khalsa Diwan Society in Abbotsford is a Gurdwara Sahib that is over 100 years and is listed as a Canadian Heritage Site. It was founded on July 31st 1911.

Similar incidents have taken place in past and despite pleas from local Sikhs, the committee has allowed blasphemous practices during weddings.  This Gurdwara’s committee is also in direct violation of Sri Akal Takht Sahib’s 1998 “langar” hukamnama that has asked Gurdwaras in the West to remove tables and chairs from its langar halls.

This Gurdwara’s committee was earlier in the limelight when a video by Jus Reign showed people sitting on chairs whilst wearing their shoes in the langar hall.  The video sparked outrage over the internet and several people asked the Gurdwara Management committee to step down.  Since then, the sangat has split and two new Gurdwaras have been formed.

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Comments

  1. M Singh is one of the most ignorant Sikhs I have ever come across. He needs to revise the tenants of Sikhism. Lacks basic empathy, humility, wisdom that he should have embibed if he was a true Sikh. Men like him are so full of their pompous selves as self appointed saviors of Gurmat. Our Gurus were way way above this pettiness of chairs and tables. Some years from now SGPC will come out with an edict approving the use of chairs and tables and M Singh will change his mind. My faith and respect for Sikhism is in the spiritual upliftment and not innate objects that drag us down into being just base humans. Rise above or get dragged into a morass that is hard to rise out of. For our future generations to follow the path of Sikhism, we have to be exemplary beings, not militia.

  2. Get a life people.
    There is no God, no vahaguru.

    So what this couple sat on chairs.??? If you dont like it then keep your mouth shut.

    Chairs dont make a good person. How many of you are really good people imposing your beliefs onto others and chasing the every dollar you possibly can.

    I can see hypocrisy is alive and well.

  3. Terry brother. Our Guru Granth Sahib and its maryada does not become Canadian or France or America or England when we migrate any where out of india. Guru and maryada remains the same in any country and must be followed and due respect given. Of all religions our Sikhi is the easiest to follow and we dont brand mona sikh boys and girls as infidels if they cut their hair. To each his own. But Guru and maryada must be followed. Try becoming a muslims and see if you can follow their maryada and pray 5 times a day.
    On langgar hall shoes must not be worn inside. Sitting on table and chairs to eat in the langgar hall should be allowed. There are many older persons who can’t squat on the floor to eat. One must be comfortable when having his langgar. Place in langgar hall should also be created for those who want to sit on the floor. That is my view and all our temples in singapore have been following this since 80 plus years or so. Wedding couples should sit on the floor in darbar sahib of course unless they have a disability then they should remain standing for all the 4 lavas. Some may have spinal defects and they won’t be able to matha tek. Thus such people can bow their heads. Moderation should not be taken advantage of.
    The way we are having disputes and disrespect in our temples i won’t be surprised if 50 yrs from now whiskey and meat would be served at the langgar hall. I won’t be around to see that though and thank Guru i would have long gone to see such a day. If man can marry man and women can marry women i don’t know what else can happen to the humanbeings in the coming future.

  4. It’s hate preachers like the author of this article that are turning Sikhs fanatical. Why don’t you go live a bloody hole with your ill and stop forcing everyone to your views.

  5. M Singh, I pray you learn to release the negative energy and find peace within your self, you seem like a very angry person with all this hate you are spreading

  6. You guys are all blowing this out of poportion!!!!! Y’all need to relax how basthi you guys look talking smack welcome to Canada you have a problem go back to India ?? This gurdwara has been around and the people around this gudwara are part of Canada’s history!!! If there was a major problem with what they were doing they would have said something!!! The bride and groom both sat on the ground during the religious ceremony. SO LAY OFFF

    • The word is spelled ‘proportion’ and you don’t use more than three exclamation marks – poor grammar and syntax for someone bleating about how advanced he is being a Canadian. Sikhs have a duty no matter where they are in the world to uphold the dignity of our Guru. Probably best for you to keep quiet rather than publicly exhibit your ignorance of religious doctrine, Sikh history and indeed even the English language. Eh?

  7. Guru Granth Sahib Jio is King of Sikhs, including and especially those seeking blessings of married life, so it would be best to next time postpone marriage, if possible, because we will only know in afterlife, if our disrespect is forgiven ji.
    Humble request to all to follow rules of respect, or not express your views, especially if you are not a Sikh, unless you are highly spiritual to declare to all Vahiguroo Jio Himself has assured you it is alright?

  8. Read the article. This gurudwara was made in 1911. That is before the First World War.
    I recently watched an interview of a Sikh who has been in Canada before since the 1950’s or something. He spoke of how no one covered their heads in the gurudwara. People were encouraged to wear western clothes to the gurudwara: women long dresses. And this is 40 years after the start of this gurudwara. Watching this interview with the extended family, my father said, even in India at that time we didn’t cover our heads to go to gurudwara.

    we are dealing with a gurudwara that was founded by the thinking of people from a different time. While you think their thoughts are too modern or too anti-Sikh, I don’t think either.

    I just made my point about it not being modern. Now, tell me, what kind of place of Sikh worship wants a civil rights lawsuit for not accommodating a disability what our religion is about equality among all? As we are all taught equality of rights does not = the same. Allowances need to be made for disabilities.

    And we don’t know if they raised Guru Granth Sahib Ji’s alter higher to accommodate the needs (not wants) of the bride.

    • You are deliberately not understanding. If the bride could not physically sit because of a medical problem she could sit on a chair – although it would make sense that she be sat in a wheelchair so that she could circle Guru Granth Sahib during the Anand Karaj. No one is objecting to that so there is no infringement of human rights, disablities rights or civil liberties as you try to suggest. Guru Granth Sahib’s manji sahbi could even have been raised to ensure that he was still above all present. The problem lies with why the groom is also sitting on a chair when he has no physical impediment to sitting on the floor. As fort Sikhs have previously sat in a Gurdwara without their heads covered that in itself ia great sacrilege – you don’t use one prescendent of sacrelige to then justify more incidents. A lot of migrant Sikhs going to Canada in the early 20th century migrated form villages and were largely farm hands and manual labourers who were probably ignorant of their own faith’s requirements and keen to assimilate in the host population so as to gain employment. AGain that does not justify their inability to respect Guru Granth Sahib. Build your little temple and stick a couple f encyclopedias in cloth on a table and then you can sit in their presence without any issue – just don’t adulterate and dilute Sikhi for the real Sikhs as we have enough trouble with the RSS agenda.

  9. Terry I would have to strongly disagree. The Akal Takht is the highest political throne for the sikhs on this earth and its rulings should be respected and followed. However, like any political institutions it’s a 2 way process. Local issues should be debated locally and fed upwards by the gurdwara committee. On this instance I agree with other posters it seems the author has not given a balanced post, hence the article loses credibility. I feel there is an issue of access to the Guru Granth for the Sangat with disabilities. Not just for the Anand Karaj but other for religious ceremonies which should be addressed. In some cases it is dealt with locally with common sense. But there are still a few grey areas.

  10. This is a ridiculous article. It is clear from other peoples’ comments the bride had medical reasons for need to be seated on the chair. This is just bad journalism.
    And sitting on chairs in the Langar Hall? There are plenty of Gurdwareh where they allow this. How is this disrespectful? Do people not sit on chairs normally when they eat? Is the Guru Granth Sahib present in the Langar Hall?

    • That does not look like a langar hall to me but the darbar. And again why is the groom sitting on a chair if it is only his bride that has medical impediment to sitting on the floor? You can have chairs in langar hall to accomodate elderly and small children but they have to be alongside traditional seating on the floor and certainly not offering prominence. Emperor Akbar had to eat on the floor alongside everybody else when the langar was established before he could see Guru Nanak so this groom has no excuse.

  11. You live in Canada now. Adopt the values and traditions of the Punjabi Sikh pioneers who helped pave the way for your existence in this country. If you want to accept the values of the akal takht in India, then go back and stay there and be happy because it certainly doesn’t look like you are happy here. We are a new generation of modern Sikhs that respect and value the fundamentals of Sikhism not what some brainless zealots who interpret the faith and its principles to suit their own self interests and expect others to follow.

    • There aren’t different sects of Sikhs. We listen to Akal Takht Sahib. That’s it that’s all. No need for both of them to be sitting on chairs. If the lady needed it than she needed it. In Shri Guru Givind Singh Jo’s times there were no cars. We aren’t extremists, we use common sense as Sikhs. No need for the male to be sitting on a chair. I don’t think Terry understands how humble a Gursikh is suppose to be but he’s entitled to his opinion. I think anyone that claims to be a Sikh needs to watch basics of Sikhi on YouTube. Jagraj Singh does the best job of explaining the meaning of Sikhi.

    • Who are you calling brainless when you do not comprehend that you cannot be a Sikh if you reject the tenents of the Sikh faith. They are not open to being changed to suit your own personal peccadilloes and conveinence. You don’t have to be a Sikh or follow the Sikh religion if all you are after is some veneer of religiosity but don’t try to tell Singhs to give up their religious principles to accommodate your lack of courage in being a Sikh or not being a Sikh. Every single person not of direct indigenous aboringinal tribal descent (Inuit, Métis, etc) in Canada is of immigrant stock and has brought their cultures and religions to that land so why should you object to the Sikhs doing the same especially when none of them came to Canadian soil in order to invade and colonise by violence? The Punjabi Sikh pioneers in Canada came there wearing their dastaars my ignorant friend and with the courage Sikhi instilled in them to be bold in the first place. It is not the values of the Akal Takht but the very word of Guru Gobind SIngh ji himself when he conferred eternal Guruship on the Adi Granth to make it Guru Granth Sahib. Tell me would you sit on a chair infront of Guru Gobind Singh? Of course not. So why would you think showing such disrespect is permissable to his direct successor Guru Granth Sahib? Because the truth is to you (and the likes of our resident RSS troll ‘Harinder (not his real name)) our Guru is nothing more now than some ‘holy book’ to be usded once in a while when you need a pinch of religiosity – Diwali time, maybe Vaisakhi, maybe even Christmas. You don’t respect the fundamentals of Sikhi so keep quite until you have actually bothered to learn them when you talk to stupidly of the Akal Takht which was invested with temporal and religious of Sikh affairs centuries before any Sikh stepped on Canadian soil and enriched it with the values of Sikhism.

  12. Who are you to judge? Let God judge them. I know and understand that sitting on the floor is an expression of humility before the Guru. Furthermore, it also makes people feel equal and allows each person to choose a place suitable for him/her BUT She couldn’t sit down because of a medical reason. I go to the gudwara with my grandma all the time and I am allowed to take her wheelchair inside.
    Instead of picking on people who have medical problems, focus on yourself. Also there are so many gudwaras where the commitee is fake and just take home the money. The The Khalsa Diwan Society is one of the best gudwara in BC! Every Sikh prayer ends with seeking the welfare of everyone in the world. Real sikhs don’t judge or give someone a hard time.

    • Does her medical reason extend to her husband also needing to sit on a chair? When you do an Anand Karaj you have to stand up and circle Guru Granth Sahib. If she is capable of walking around him then she is capable of standing up, or being held up or wait until she is fit enough to do so. Real Sikhs defend the honour of Guru Granth Sahib and object when sacrilegious practices are introduced – it is perfectly proper for a Sikh to chastise another Sikh for wrongdoing, in fact it is a duty. You might want to refrain from posting on a Sikh news website and refresh yourself on Sikh history, perhaps start with Baba Deep Singh Ji.

  13. Two new gurdwaras were formed because it is a business. The committees that run each gurdawara pocket hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash each year. The different groups were in a political war against one another over money, not over religious beliefs.

  14. the girl was unable to sit because of a head on collision she was in.. the committee was kind enough to allow her to sit on a stool because of her disabilities. it was unfortunately the author of this article was incompetent enough to post this prior to doing the research on this couple….

      • now your just looking for an excuse to justify your anger….. we are told to be kind to one another and not to judge one another in the guru granth sahib, most of the comments i have ready on here are going against the most basic principle! when our elders visit the gurdwara and are unable to sit cross legged we offer our respect and lend them a stool to sit on in such cases I don’t believe this lessens their experience of coming to the gurdwara. The couple here did not have any malicious intentions of hurting anyone or show disrespect towards the guru granth sahib ji, they sat throughout the entire ceremony.. they only used the stools in the last 15 minutes and then ended up cancelling the rest of the shaggan due to the brides medical condition worsening. i would like to think in this situation god would be nothing but accommodating to this couple who seek his blessings.

          • I am sure that by now, this article/picture has reached all parts of the world. People will always have their opinions (which they are entitled too) whether you do something good or bad. This couple made the decision to marry at that temple and follow its customs/ways. Its their marriage, their decisions, their life. If you believe this is wrong, then you can enforce that with your family/kids/siblings etc.
            I believe if someone does something wrong, they will pay for it somehow someway in their life. KARMA

            To the couple: I hope you do not take people comments personally. Over the past couple of days I have read some pretty nasty comments. None of these people personally know you so don’t try and explain yourself or your situation to people who don’t know you. UNLIKE MANY PEOPLE, I hope you spend your time wisely, doing positive things towards building a great future together. All the best!

        • Waheguru and our Guru Granth Sahib are held above all Sikhs. That’s the point of religious faith and this couple were being married in a Sikh temple according to the sacrament of the Anand Karaj ceremony.

    • Regardless of whether the bride was in an accident, I agree with the author of the post. Shagan is part if punjabi culture. Laavan is a sikh religious ceremony at a religious place of worship. If due to health reasons she can not sit on the floor, shagan ceremony should have been taken out of darbar sahib to ensure complete respect of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji.

    • Was the groom also in a head on collision which rendered him unable to stand also? It would be perfectly understandable and permissable if both were so injured that they needed to perform the Anand Karaj in wheelchairs for medical reasons but that is not the case here.

  15. This is sad ; people who runs gurudwara has no respect for Guru Granth Sahib ji these people should be boycotted by Sikh sangat;
    Those people who had sit on the chair of Shri Guru Granth Sahib ji if they have no respect why the hell these people come to gurudwara and get married….marrying in gurudwara means respect Shri Guru Granth Sahib ji and follow rules taught during lavan

  16. My husband has had a double hip replacement at an early age. We got married before guru Granth sahibji. However, because if his medical disability, he cannot sit on the floor and if he does he gets up with great difficulty. We got chairs which were around 4 inches from the ground so we were still lower than babaji. If there are such reasons and you have the greatest respect and love for Guruji surely he also will not hold you in contempt!

    • There is no problem with people sitting on chairs in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib if there is a genuine reason to do so as Sikhi is a compassionate and rational based religion. People with hip replacements cannot sit crosslegged on the floor because they would be in pain and in real risk of dislocating the artificial hip so Sikhism does allow such persons to sit on chairs in the darbar although chairs are usually kept at the rear and sides. That is not the issue here. We have both the groom and bride sitting on chairs before Guru Granth Sahib. Now they are either both physically incapacitated (and if so should be in wheelchairs as they will be required to circle Guru Granth Sahib dueing the Anand Karaj) or one is incapacitated (which begs the question why the other is also seated when physically there is no impediment) or both are able to sit and stand and have decided to sit which is blatantly sacreligious. You will also note from the photo that the groom’s kirpan is lying on the floor by his feet whilst he is still able to hold clothful of money!

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