This Sunday 7 February at 3 pm Park Avenue, there is an extremely important meeting, regarding the constitution of the Sabha, important changes are being brought forward, like every member should have ‘Singh’ or ‘Kaur’ in their name, this is to help control our Gurdwara from external influences. Opposition are going against such panthic changes, only you with Guru’s kirpa can help safeguard the constitution, so benti for all to attend, and pass this benti on ! Navraj Singh (Prabandhak member).
I am not going to be nasty about the above text sent to me by Navraj Singh of the Southall Singh Sabha, but I will raise some points, as is my habit.
The first time I joined the Sabha the sevadar who dealt with me got confused over my name. I had already added Harjinder Singh to my name, but my passport still had only my old first and last name. I looked like a Sikh and regularly visited the Gurdwara, but I might not have been accepted as a member of the Sabha if it wasn’t for the intervention of Himmat Singh Sohi.
While I was there some other people who did not look like Sikhs, who had Hindu first and last names and who I had never seen in the sangat were made members without being asked any questions.
I think these examples show the dilemmas that any Gurdwara with a membership system for the purpose of election faces. The move by the Gurdwara to request all potential members to have Singh and Kaur as part of their name seems sensible.
The first point I want to raise is that people like me who are not of Sikh background and who are not from the UK, where changing your name is easy, might be caught out by this.
Secondly, I know many people with Singh and Kaur as part of their name who are not Sikhs at all, they might even look like Sikhs, but they have not a trace of Sikh behaviour.
I did meet people, both in the Panjab and in the UK, who were not Sikhs in any formal way but who regularly visited the Gurdwara, who made an honest living, shared with others and kept God in mind with everything they did. Should these be excluded from membership ?
One of the problems is that the Southall Singh Sabha is not just a local Gurdwara serving Southall, but attracts people from all over West London and surrounding areas. In a local Gurdwara, serving a neighbourhood or a town, it is much easier to know who are regularly part of the sangat and who try to live a Sikh way of life. Local Gurdwaras can base their membership on those criteria, and avoid including undesirables.