While we respect and celebrate diverse cultural traditions, how far are we willing to allow them to become a catalyst of divisive politics? Recently, the UK government accommodated the religious requirement of Sikhs to wear kirpans – or small daggers – by making an exemption in the new Offensive Weapons Bill 2018, which is currently awaiting approval in the country’s Parliament. This shows the UK government’s affirmation of the multiculturalism and ethnoreligious diversity of the country.
However, the recent case at a Sikh Gurudwara reiterates the warning that the real spirit of institutions often gets hijacked by unwanted elements. These elements go against the very grain of the religion they claim to stand for. Talking about the recent case at the Shepherds Bush Gurudwara where a young Sikh man stopped the Deputy High Commissioner of India from entering, prominent and respected British-Sikh businessman Dr Rami Ranger said: “The behaviour of the young man in question is totally against the teachings of the Sikh Gurus who stood for unity and love for all. Our Gurus ensured that every Sikh Gurdwara has four doors to welcome people from every direction, every faith and diversity. Our Langar (communal kitchen) bears testament to this fact where people from every race and faith are welcome.
The Sikh Gurus in fact stood up against tyranny and injustice and never imposed their will upon others. Bhai Kanhaiya, a disciple of Guru Gobind Singh Ji even offered medical aid to the enemy combatants and that is the real Sikh spirit.”