Feeding our humanity

By Jasbir Singh Suropada, Sikh Interfaith Council of Victoria

As Victorians, we have all persevered and done the hard shifts of lockdowns, curfew, and isolation and now we are reaping the fruits of coming back slowly and safely to our normal life routines.

Life is full of challenges; acknowledging the challenges and responding to them in a positive way of impermanence, is important.

Like the weather it’s a season of life.

Sometimes we mourn or celebrate, at times we doubt or trust, but the important thing is to hold on to hope that things will get better.

Sometimes things don’t make sense in life, but keeping hope that every day is a new day helps us through situations.

Having faith and believing in ourselves is so important while going through life’s situations as it makes us wiser and experienced to work on improving our situations.

Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the founder of Sikh Faith started the concept of ‘Langar’ (Free Community Kitchen).

It is a process where Sikhs share their honest earnings to provide food for everyone.

It was designed to uphold the principle of equality between all people regardless of race, religion, caste, colour, creed, age, gender or social status – a revolutionary concept in the caste-ordered society of 16th-century India where Sikhism began.

In addition to the ideals of equality, the tradition of langar expresses the ethics of sharing, community, inclusiveness and oneness of all humankind – or “…the Light of God is in all hearts”. Having food to eat is a basic human right.

The Sikh community feels humbled and blessed to have been able to help and serve free meals to Victorians from all walks of life.

The free meals are still continuing in certain areas and are ongoing in a Sikh place of Worship (Gurdwaras).

Any person from any faith, tradition or background can walk into a Sikh Gurdwara and will get a free meal be it breakfast, lunch or dinner time.

The Sikh community is thankful with the lifting of the restrictions after Covid as it celebrates Vaisakhi-Birth of Khalsa on 13 April.

This is followed on 1 May by the 400th Parkash Puran (birth anniversary) of the Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib Ji (9th Sikh Guru) who sacrificed his life for freedom of religion.

With resilience and patience, we can create a brighter future.

The Sikh philosophy of ‘Chardi Kala’ promotes this exact type of resilience.

It promotes a determination to continue in the face of adversity, to see things through and to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

This philosophy is grounded in the belief that, with a firm belief in Waheguru (The Divine Light) that is within all of us regardless of race or religion, our worldly worries can be eradicated.

Self-talk and the belief that we are all unique and special in our own way and we are not in competition with anyone will motivate us to have a positive outlook of our lives.

This can help to heal, bring hope and feel good about ourselves and start to appreciate what we have instead of what we don’t have.

As long as we are breathing there is hope – let’s stay focused and always looking ahead with a positive mindset.

When there is a Will there is a Way.

The Sikh community showed a steely resilience to come together, communicate and put the needs of the community at the forefront.

It was representative of the Sikh ethos of the community and helping others in any way possible. This coming together proved that as a community, as a society and as a planet we can overcome obstacles that are placed in front of us.

The foundation of our efforts should always be a firm faith of seeing Waheguru (Divine) in all and in serving humanity this is serving Waheguru (God).

The saying goes “it takes a village to raise a child”.

Looking back at the Covid pandemic, I would say it takes humanity in communities with a common goal of selfless service that helps a nation go through crises and pandemics, to come out stronger, resilient and more united in the end.