Amritsar, Oct 13: In order to counter mass conversions of Sikhs to Christianity in Punjab, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has recently launched a special drive. This came after videos were surfacing on social media showing proselytizing activities of Christian missionaries in the state. The apex Sikh body has come under criticism from within the community for not doing enough to “protect” the faith.
The campaign, which is named as "Ghar Ghar Andar Dharamsaal (sacred shrine within every home)”, is adopting means used by Christian preachers and other traditional methods to spread Sikh literature and teachings across villages in the state. "The campaign will not only bring firmness among Sikhs toward their faith, but also make the young generation take pride in their history and culture," said SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur.
In order to carry out the campaign, 150 teams comprising seven preachers each have been dispatched to villages. They stay in the village for a week, and go from door to door to distribute Sikh literature. In the evening, they gather children at the local gurdwara to teach them the correct recitation of gurbani (hymn) and create awareness about the Sikh history, culture and philosophy. Thereafter, diwan (religious congregation) is staged by the preachers, dhadis (ballad singers) and kavishars (folk singers) to sensitise the community members about their faith and values.
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A grand congregation is organised on the last day and an amrit sanchar (initiation rite) ceremony is held as well. The preachers also have an informal dialogue with villagers at saths (small gatherings at a common place in the village). In the coming days, the SGPC plans to double the number of teams with the help of Sikh missionary colleges.
"The drive is aimed at countering the impact of the mission being run by Christian preachers. We also approach families that have converted to have a dialogue with them and make them take pride in Sikh beliefs," said Sarabjit Singh Dhotian, SGPC’s head preacher.
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According to the reports, the issue of alleged mass conversions was the key agenda during the Panthic gathering called by the Akal Takht on July 26. Akal Takht acting jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh alleged that the religious conversion drive is being run in Punjab with funds from foreign countries. “Converting Sikhs to another religion is worrisome. When we don’t force anyone to join our religion by greed, then no one has the right to ask the followers of our religion to convert by greed or pressure,” he said.