Sint-Truiden – Halmaal Gurdwara – Leuven

31 May 2017

Gurdwara visit – OKAN group

Gurdwara visit – OKAN group

Gurdwara Sangat Sahib
Halmaal Dorp 20
B-3800 Sint-Truiden

De Lijn Bus station
31 May 2017

Bus 30 to Herk de Stad – Bus 23 to Budingen

Bus 42 to Landen via Gingelom – Bus 30 to Herk de Stad
I took the bus to Tongeren and from there a bus to Leuven

31 May 2017



To see all my pictures:

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Dawn – India stops over 300 Sikh pilgrims from visiting Pakistan

Lahore, 29 June 2017. The Indian government on Wednesday stopped over 300 Sikh pilgrims, who were due to attend the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh, from crossing over to Pakistan, citing refusal by the External Affairs Ministry to clear their names.

The pilgrims, who had reached Atari early in the morning, a bordering railway station from where they are picked up by the Pakistan Railways, protested against the Indian government and some violence was also reported.

Chairman of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) Siddiqul Farooq kept trying for six hours talking to the Indian embassy in Pakistan but in vain. Frustrated, he held a press conference in the afternoon to allege “fundamentalism is creeping into Indian state institutions”.

The Indian government has refused pilgrims a second time in June alone. On June 8, it disallowed over 200 visitors for Shaheedi Jor Mela, celebrations for the fifth Guru of the Sikh religion. After some hectic efforts, only 14 were allowed to cross the border on foot.

“Given the stubbornness of the Indian government, the fear now is about November when birthday celebrations of Baba Guru Nanak are due,” says an ETPB official. That is the holiest pilgrimage for the Sikh community and a big event for Pakistan. In all probability, those celebrations were in danger, at least for the Indian Sikh community, he feared.

ETPB chairman Siddiqul Farooq said: “While Pakistan is routinely accused of fundamentalism, none of its state organ has acted in such a manner. By stopping the yatrees, the Indian ministry has also violated the UN charter, which forbids a decision hurting religious feeling. This visit was purely religious and should not have been hampered.”

Tara Singh, head of the Pakistan Sikh Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee, was present at the press conference.

Mr Farooq said Pakistan had gone the extra mile in facilitating the visitors. “Though the agreement binds the visitors to apply for a visa at least 45 days before the visit, applications that arrived only five days before the visit were entertained.

The Pakistan High Commission issued over 300 visas and the ETPB held meetings with 34 departments to finalise arrangements for the visit. The Indian side kept us and pilgrims waiting for more than six hours. But all ended up in vain,” he regretted.

“The entire staff of the board was at the border to receive them. I myself travelled from Islamabad to Lahore to welcome the yatrees. A train from Pakistan Railways was waiting at the Zero Line to fetch the visitors.

The situation unfolded only when the pilgrims were stopped and the Pakistani side tried to find a way out. I have never travelled abroad in the last three years, but now I plan to go to India and try to convince people concerned there.

On its part, Pakistan has also inducted four Yatra promoters from the private sector to facilitate visitors from all over the world,” he concluded.

Sint-Truiden – Halmaal Gurdwara

Sint-Truiden Halmaalweg
31 May 2017

Sint-Truiden – Halmaalweg

Sint-Truiden – Halmaalweg

Sint-Truiden – Halmaalweg


Gurdwara Sangat Sahib

OKAN students visiting the Gurdwara

Gurdwara Sangat Sahib
Halmaal Dorp 20
B-3800 Sint-Truiden

The Times of India – 300 Sikh pilgrims head to Pakistan for Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s death anniversary

Yudhvir Rana

Amritsar-Panjab-India, 25 June 2017. As many as 300 Sikhs will leave for Pakistan to observe the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh on June 28 even as Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) cancelled its plan to send the jatha (group of pilgims) to the neighbouring country after the Union government refused to take responsibility for their security.

Bhai Mardana Yadgari Kirtan Darbar Society president Harpal Singh Bhullar told TOI on Saturday that Pakistan high commission had issued more than 300 visas to Sikhs going to Pakistan in jathas sent by various Sikh bodies, including Khalra Mission Committee, Nankana Sahib Sikh Yatree Jatha and Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee besides their society.

He said SGPC should have sent its jatha to Pakistan respecting sentiments of Sikh devotees.

Earlier, in wake deteriorating relations between the two countries, SGPC was informed by the Indian government that the jatha could go to Pakistan at its own risk. To this, president Kirpal Singh Badungar had objected and had demanded that the matter be taken up with the Pakistan government at a diplomatic level.

Meanwhile, according to the programme chalked out by Pakistan’s Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) the bhog of Akhand Path will be performed on June 29 at Gurdwara Dera Sahib, Lahore. The Sikh devotees will also visit other historical Sikh gurdwaras in Pakistan before returning on 7 July.

Bhullar said the Society had demanded from ETPB to allow Sikh devotees to visit memorial of Bhai Mani Singh, situated inside the Lahore fort.

The Times of India – Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee drops plan of sending ‘jatha’ to Pakistan

Yudhvir Rana

Amritsar, 22 June 2017. After the Union government’s refusal to guarantee safety of Sikh devotees in Pakistan, the Shromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has cancelled its scheduled ‘jatha’ (group of pilgrims), which was to leave for the neighbouring country to observe the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh on June 28.

However, other Sikh bodies are sending their representatives, stating it was the Pakistan government’s duty to provide security cover to the visiting pilgrims.

Talking to TOI on Tuesday, SGPC president Kirpal Singh Badungar said, “It’s the duty of the Indian government to ensure the safety of Sikh pilgrims in Pakistan. Our government should have taken up the issue with Pakistan through diplomatic channels. It appears as if Sikh lives are not important for the central government.”

Badungar said SGPC had written letters to both the Prime Minister and the Union external affairs minister, but to no avail. He said the Centre had conveyed that the ‘jatha’ could go at its own risk.

Sources informed that following the estranged relations between the two nations, intelligence agencies had suggested that the Centre curtail the visit of Indians to Pakistan for security reasons.

According to a programme chalked out by Pakistan’s Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB), after the arrival of Indian ‘jathas’ on June 28, the bhog of Akhand Path would be performed on June 29 at Gurdwara Dera Sahib, Lahore. The Sikh devotees will also visit other historical Sikh gurdwaras before returning on July 7.

The president of Bhai Mardana Yadgar Kirtan Darbar Society Harpal Singh Bhullar said the security of Indian devotees had never been an issue in Pakistan.

Stating that providing security to the Indian ‘jatha’ was the responsibility of the Pakistan government, and even during the worst of relations between the two nations, the neighbouring country had been providing a high standard of security to pilgrims from India. “It’s also a matter of Pakistan’s reputation at the international level,” he said.

Agreeing with Harpal, Nankana Sahib Sikh Yatree Jatha president Swaran Singh Gill said there should not be any doubt on security in Pakistan. “For a ‘jatha’ of 3,000 pilgrims, there are over 10,000 security personnel at every gurdwara, and on the route taken by the visiting groups,” he said.

Both of them opined that the SGPC should send the Sikh ‘jatha’, keeping in view the sentiments of pilgrims.

The Times of India – Parallel jathedars mull ‘gurdwara reform’ move

I P Singh

Jalandhar, 20 June 2017. The informal Sarbat Khalsa-appointed jathedars have announced to launch a ‘gurdwara management reform movement’. The parallel priests have also said that they would work to get due representation to Dalits in the gurdwara management.

On Monday, parallel jathedar of Akal Takht Dhian Singh Mand, Damdama Sahib unofficial jathedar Baljit Singh Daduwal and Kesgarh Sahib informal jathedar Amrik Singh Ajnala addressed a press conference in Jalandhar. Mand said they were constrained to start the movement as there was no end to incidents of sacrilege and Sikh community was anguished.

“Earlier the Parkash Singh Badal government did not make any attempt to deliver justice in the Bargari sacrilege incident. Now, the Captain Amarinder Singh government has also failed to give any results in the last three months,” he said.

Stating that there were serious issues in the management of gurdwaras, Mand said the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) and the official jathedars had failed to do anything to improve the situation.

Mand announced that in the first leg of the programmme, they would hold district-wise meetings with the granthis and pathis (those engaged in recitation of Guru Granth Sahib). The programme would start on Thursday from Ferozepur and culminate on at Nawanshahr on August 1. He said they would also meet with preachers, ragis, dhadis and kavishars. – SGPC to launch ‘Dharam Prachaar Lehar’ from Takht Sri Damdama Sahib on July 1

Sikh24 Editors

Talwandi Sabo-Panjab-India, 19 June 2017. The Apex Sikh body Shromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee is going to launch a ‘Dharam Prachaar Lehar’ from Takht Sri Damdama Sahib on July 1.

SGPC general secretary Amarjit Singh Chawla held a meeting with SGPC appointed Jathedar of Takht Sri Damdama Sahib Giani Harpreet Singh and other SGPC members in this concern. The meeting attendees deliberated upon the preparations for the ‘Dharam Prachaar Lehar’.

Interacting with media on this occasion, SGPC general Secretary Amarjit Singh Chawla informed that the SGPC president Professor Kirpal Singh Badungar and other renowned Sikh preachers will also take part in the ‘Dharam Prachaar Lehar’.

He further informed that an Akhand Path Sahib in this regard will be commenced at Takht Sri Damdama Sahib on June 29 and will be culminated on July 1.

“Our main goal is to start a grassroots movement to re-ignite Sikhi spirit throughout Punjab. We want to touch each and every Punjabi Sikh and bring them into Sikhi fold,” he told Sikh24.

Chawla asked upon Sikh organizations to provide assistance to the movement to make it successful. “We will be providing more details about the Lehar in the coming days,” he said.

Baba Buta Singh (Vice-President of SGPC), Bhai Mohan Singh Bangi (SGPC member), Bhai Amrik Singh Kot Shamir (SGPC member), Bhai Gurpreet Singh Jhabbar (SGPC member), Bhai Navtej Singh Kaoni (SGPC member), Bhai Paramjit Singh Khalsa (SGPC member), Bhai Jagjit Singh (Manager of Takht Sri Damdama Sahib), Bhai Jagtar Singh (Head Granthi, Takht Sri Damdama Sahib), Bhai Charanjit Singh, Bhai Kulwinder Singh, Bhai Surinder Singh Mander etc. prominent among the meeting attendees.

ITV News – Bradford Sikh Temple [Gurdwara] overwhelmed by Grenfell Tower donations

Bradford, 18 June 2017.

A Sikh Temple [Gurdwara] in Bradford says it is overwhelmed by the number of donations it has received following an appeal for the victims and survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire.

At least 58 people are now confirmed or presumed dead after the devastating fire last Wednesday.

The Guru Gobind Singh Gurdwara only started collecting on Thursday but has taken hundreds of bags of clothes and toiletries, as well as cash donations from the whole community.

BBC News – Sikh community urged to face ‘taboo’ issue of addiction

Derby-Derbyshire-East Midlands-UK, 17 June 2017. Sikhs needs to start talking openly about addiction to tackle the problems of “shame” and “stigma”, a recovering alcoholic has said.

Jaz Rai, who runs the Sikh Recovery Network, said there was a growing problem with all kinds of addiction within his community and people were not getting the help they needed.

He said addiction was “condemned” in their faith.

Mr Rai is holding several events at Derby Gurdwara to help rid the “taboo”.

He said he wanted to help people “get out of the misery” he had suffered.

A study found alcohol-related hospital admissions in the Punjabi community had risen and it noted a loss of status was feared more than health issues.

Lakhwinder Chahal, who attends the same Gurdwara, said: “When I was growing up we had some family members who were alcoholic.

“It was so hard at times, when they didn’t know what they were doing… the whole family suffered because there was some violence as well.

“I know of so many people who have suffered because of alcohol, with domestic violence. The people get hurt, the children are scared.”

At one point Mr Rai was drinking a litre of vodka a day, which put his job at risk and saw him convicted of drink driving.


He quit when given an ultimatum by his wife to choose their family or alcohol.

Mr Rai said: “Drug and alcohol addiction is a problem in every community, but in the Sikh community it is taboo.

“There is a lot of stigma attached to it and addicts are quickly labelled and ostracised by our community.

“It’s condemned in our faith and in our holy scriptures.”

He added: “I am willing to do anything to get people out of that misery and give them the chance of having what I have.”

The weekend Derby programme will consist of talks, workshops and open sessions where people of any background or faith can discuss their issues.

The Tribune – UAE gurdwara holds Iftar for all faiths

Dubai, 16 June 2017. In a heart-warming gesture, a gurdwara here, the largest in the Gulf, organised Iftar where people of different religions and over 30 nationalities broke the Muslim fast together.

To demonstrate the spirit of tolerance and giving, Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara, hosted 120 residents of over 30 nationalities to celebrate the holy month of Ramazan and support the Muslim community in breaking their fast in a multicultural setting.

As the call to maghreb (evening) prayers rang inside the gurdwara, Muslims broke their fast over water, dates and Indian dishes. Later, they offered prayers inside the gurdwara premises in Jebel Ali.

Surinder Singh Kandhari, chairman, Guru Nanak Darbar, was quoted as saying by the Khaleej Times that the Iftar was to bring people together in the face of adversity.

“In a world that struggles with extremism, the best way out is through creating friendships among different faiths and nationalities. It is only through communication that we can overcome adversities,” said Kandhari, noting that guests varied from Arabs, Ethiopians, Mexicans to Americans and Serbians.

Indian Consul General in Dubai Vipul said the gurdwara was doing a great service by getting all communities and religions together. He cited the example of the gurdwara achieving a Guinness World Record by hosting breakfast for 101 nationalities in April.

“I see today’s Iftar also as a step in that direction,” he was quoted as saying by Gulf News. A regular visitor at the gurdwara, Mitchell Peeters from Belgium, said as a Christian, having Iftar in a Sikh Gurdwara made the experience in the UAE more special.

“It is a nice experience to enjoy happiness and friendliness of people around you from different faiths and nationalities. It is part of the charm of living in Dubai and adjusting to local customs,” said Peeters, a UAE resident for four years.

The gurdwara serves free meals to visitors everyday and food packs in labour camps each weekend. (PTI)