Updated: November 19, 2021 9:33:18 am
For at least two months in Gurgaon — as in so many parts of the country — religion and worship have been used to create a wall, one that both keeps people out and hems them in. The offering of namaz, even in designated areas, was disrupted by politico-religious groups, and the local administration withdrew permission for Friday prayers citing “objections from local residents and RWAs”. It is easy to forget, in such a climate of communal hostility, the ideas of service, fraternity and hospitality that are a part of religious traditions. Thankfully, five gurdwaras in Gurgaon reminded people of those sentiments by offering Muslim neighbours their grounds for namaz.
In virtually every recent crisis — migrant workers trudging home in 2020, during the farmers’ agitation, as people suffered during the Second Wave — the Sikh community has been at the forefront of providing relief, assistance and sustenance. Langar is served to all comers, with no questions asked about religion, caste or creed. It is this openness and generosity — both spiritual and material — that is on display in Gurgaon. As Sherdil Singh Sidhu, president of the Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Sabzi Mandi, Gurgaon, put it: “A gurdwara is the house of the Guru… If the Muslim community is facing problems in praying at designated sites, they can offer prayers in the gurdwaras. The doors of gurdwaras are open to all.”
“Religious polarisation”, a phrase used often by political pundits, doesn’t quite capture the fraying social fabric, the sense of loss that accompanies the cynical politicisation of religion. This is made worse when administrations carry out seemingly partisan policies. The decency of Gurgaon’s gurdwara committee, and of people like Akshay Yadav — who offered his shop for namaz — make it clear that the “community” is not exclusivist. On Guru Nanak’s birth anniversary, this may just be the greatest testament to his legacy.
This editorial first appeared in the print edition on November 19, 2021 under the title ‘The Guru’s way’.
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