I am happy that the Sher (Lion) group has won the Southall Singh Sabha elections. I am happy because it is healthy that after 12 years of being dominated by one man, H S Sohi, there is a change of personnel. I am happy that after 12 years of no involvement in Panthic issues and too little prachár the new group has the chance to improve the record.
What I am hoping for, but where I am least confident, is that there will be an end to one-man rule, that the new twenty male and one female prabandhaks will operate as a team, and that there will be regular meetings with the sangat to discuss both current issues and new policies.
I hope that the new prabandhaks will follow the Guru Granth/Guru Panth principle. Our ‘Pope’ is Vahiguru, Our ‘Archbishop’ is the Guru Granth and the Panth under the guidance of Vahiguru and the Guru Granth. The Panth, the Sarbat Khalsa is not made up of just one pradhan, the Sarbat Khalsa is not made up of 21 elected prabandhaks. Sarbat Khalsa means all the Khalsa.
The 18th century Sarbat Khalsa used to be led by panj piaré who negotiated between groups and tried to achieve as big a majority as possible. No 51% is right, 49% is wrong. Having such panj piaré in place would be a great help in conflict resolution ! It would be wonderful if these panj piaré were selected in such a way that also Tír and Báz supporters can accept their guidance.
What I am hoping for is that the Gurdwara will become less of a theatre in which stars perform katha, kirtan and path, and more of a place of training where all get the chance to play their part. There is a wealth of talent amongst British Sikhs, why are we still totally dependent on foreign workers who do not know our language and who do not understand the challenges we face in the UK.
If I can go on about my hopes a bit more, I hope that three teams, made up of prabandhaks, ‘paid’ and ordinary sevadars will be formed in charge of running Park Avenue, Havelock Road and the Norwood Hall. I especially hope that the ‘Sikh school to be’ will get a separate organisation where parents of pupils-to-be play an important role.
I keep hoping that more women of all ages and more young people will be involved in all aspects of Gurdwara life. I also hope that the Gurdwara will become less of a Panjabi club and more open and welcoming to all, as symbolised by the four doors of Harmandr Sahib. It is not anti-Gurmat to address sangat in the language of the country we live in.
I hope that from now on all prabandhaks will stop using their family name and just be ‘Something’ Singh or ‘Something’ Kaur in line with the Guru’s command. I am doing a lot of hoping, will I hope in vain ?