There used to be a group called ‘respect for Guru-Ji’, and maybe there still is, although I have not heard from them for a while. The group’s main focus was on ‘Sikh’ weddings in hotels and other ‘polluted’ venues. I argued that the problem is not so much ‘polluted’ venues as ‘polluted’ sangats.
A group of real Sikhs practising Sikhí as taught by the Guru Granth Sahib will not be affected by wherever they are. Some Sikh students from the Midlands used to visit the Student Union bar, drinking non-alcoholic drinks, not using bad language, showing all present that it is possible to have a good time without drinking, smoking or using drugs.
When travelling I sometimes have lunch in a pub, as pubs almost always offer a vegetarian option and have user friendly prices. It is all a question of being like the Lotus Flower, which grows in mud but keeps clean.
I agree with the campaigners in this respect : people who want to have a wedding (which for many is what you do before the serious business of drinking starts) in the presence of the Guru Granth Sahib should normally have the wedding in a Gurdwara. This is based on the hope that in a Gurdwara there might be some restriction on Panjabi or Western practices that are not in tune with the Rehat Maryada and the teachings of Guru.
As Vaisakhi is approaching fast we have been preparing for the annual Nagar Kirtan. The Hounslow Nagar Kirtan is on the 5th of April, the Southall one is a week later and I think Slough Nagar Kirtan follows a week after that.
If you look at Nagar Kirtans from the point of view of ‘respect for Guru-Ji’ they should be banned ! In spite of people with brooms going ahead of the procession our streets are just dirty. Loads of non-Sikhs with uncovered heads will be about, smoking, drinking, using foul language and walking in front of the Guru Granth Sahib. We will not even consider what goes on between Sikhs/ people of Sikh background during the Nagar Kirtan.
I have been involved in organising the Sikh part of the Vaisakhi on the Square event. Looking at it from the ‘Respect for Guru-Ji’ point of view, you see Trafalgar Square surrounded by drinkers and smokers and an afternoon session entirely devoted to bhangra and no doubt involving ladies who should really cover up a bit more.
The choice we have to make is between protecting the ‘respect’ of the Guru Granth Sahib and taking the Guru out of the Gurdwara and showing it to the non-Sikhs. Sikhs who are seriously trying to be on Guru’s path can go anywhere without being polluted. I do not believe it is in any way possible to ‘insult’ God or the Guru Granth. I believe we should go out of our way to share the Guru’s teachings with all.