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    Saturday, June 17, 2017

    Indian gurdwara in UAE hosts Iftar for followers of all faiths

    While religion remains the basis of difference and discrimination, a gurdwara in UAE has ensured that unity stands irrespective of religion. The Gurunanak Darbar Gurdwara hosted a grand iftar where people from over 30 nationalities attended and broke the fast, reported Hindustan Times.

    To show the spirit of acceptance, giving and brotherhood, Surender Singh Kandhari, the chairman of the Gurunanak Darbar, said this iftar was supposed to unite people from all over the world and bring them together in the face of adversity.
    The iftar featured Arabs, Ethiopians, Mexicans, Americans and Serbians, and they were offered a place for namaz in the gurdwara in Jebal Ali as well. Mitchell Peters, who is from Belgium, said the experience of iftar in a Sikh temple as a Christian made it more special, and applauded the UAE for being a platform for their unison.
    Sahib Singh has a bowl in his hand which is filled with lassi [yoghurt drink] and serving it along with other food items to deserving people — mostly to people attending to their patients — before Iftar. He has been doing this since 2001 in front of his medicine store near the Lady Reading Hospital Peshawar
    Singh does not belong to a humanitarian organisation nor does he work with some international aid agency, but his work can be considered as a perfect example of interfaith harmony in Pakistan.
    He is an ordinary Singh following the Sikh religion in Peshawar. But his love for helping those in need become a wish during the month of Ramazan.
    “I have been serving lassi, sharbat and channa rice to more than 350 deserving people twice a week in the month of Ramazan since 2001,” Singh tells The Express Tribune while preparing lassi and sharbat in red colour buckets to be served during Iftar.
    People start surrounding Singh as Iftar time approaches to get their food from a person who even does not belong to their religion showing that humanity exists irrespective of one’s religious belief.
    Singh has been living in Peshawar for the last several decades. He says his religion teaches him to serve the deserving and needy people in the month of Ramazan — which is a holy month — and “God gives back much better in return for helping the needy in Ramazan”.
    Singh says he doesn’t ask for any donations nor begs for money, but arranges money from the income he earns from the sale of medicines at his store.
    “By the grace of God, my medicine store is capable of bearing the expenses of helping the deserving people in the scorching summer heat when everyone observing fast needs lassi and sharbat.”
    The arrangement costs him over Rs30,000 a week. Singh says he along with his other co-religious colleagues also arrange Iftar for his Muslim friends.
    “The money is not a big issue when it comes to pleasing God and His creatures in the holy month of Ramazan,” Singh says as he asks his assistants to get ready for serving the meal.
    Six people assist in his medicine store. Moments before the sunset, his assistants and he start setting up a stall in front of his shop. One serves lassi in small bags for those who want to take it to their homes while bowls are served for others.
    Another starts offering channa chawal and sharbat for those approaching Singh’s stall. Mostly people attending to their patients from the Lady Reading Hospital benefit from his humanitarian work.
    This is enough to overwhelm Faithful seeing Singh serving the deserving people and the religious harmony among Muslims and other religions.
    Aslam Khan, who hails from Mardan district and who comes to Peshawar to attend to his relative admitted to the Lady Reading Hospital, tells The Express Tribune that his eyes cannot believe that a Sikh has been serving meals to Muslims in the month of Ramazan.
    “I am amazed,” he says in Pashto, adding, “Mata Nawa Pat ache Pakistan ke mazhabunu manz ke dumra mena ham shta [I wasn’t aware that there is that much interfaith harmony in Pakistan].”
    When asked if his Muslim friends visit his religious rituals, he said, “Of course. We do gather in each other’s rituals and other celebrations.”
    This gurdwara is the largest one in the Gulf region and is a very important place for Sikhs. It has been involved in social work for quite a while now.
    On normal days, the gurdwara offers free food for visitors and distributes food on weekends as well.
    The spirit of Ramazan has brought religions and countries together.
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    Item Reviewed: Indian gurdwara in UAE hosts Iftar for followers of all faiths Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Abdul Sattar Qamar