Gobind Sadan always celebrates three big events in December: the day that Baba Virsa Singh Ji left for his heavenly abode, Guru Gobind Singh’s birthday, and Christmas. But this year yet a fourth event was added to the mela, which ran from 23 to 25 December: the Golden Jubilee Year of Gobind Sadan. Celebrations of Gobind Sadan’s 50th anniversary have begun, and are continuing throughout the year, with major events also planned for Maharaj’s birthday in February.
Five Akhand Paaths were held starting on 23 December. That day there were also seven hours of continuous recitations of Jaap Sahib at Angeetha Sahib, with the Boha-Budladha sangat leading the recitations. On 24 December, Gurdaspur sangat sang their touching kirtan, followed by a special havan at Angeetha Sahib.
25 December morning saw the end of the Akhand Paaths and a special bhog programme with kirtan and talks. Dr. Surjit Kaur Jolly, Stage Secretary and Secretary of the Gobind Sadan Institute for Advanced Studies in Comparative Religion, apprised the sangat that this is the year of the Golden Jubilee, since Maharaj Ji had established Gobind Sadan in 1967. She said, “May Maharaj Ji’s mission live forever and may it continue to flourish.” She introduced five children from the interfaith education classes held weekly at Gobind Sadan, each telling their own understanding of what Gobind Sadan is. Ishmeet, daughter of Dimple Bains, who teaches one of the interfaith classes, said that she had never met Maharaj Ji in person, but wanted very much to see him. When prayer was done for her at Jesus’ Place, Maharaj Ji told her, “You have seen light in your meditations and your dreams. I am that Light.” Diksha, daughter of Subashish Sharma, plumber of Gobind Sadan said, “I want to thank Maharaj ji for making this place for us, where every religion is worshipped and given due respect, and where people can serve lovingly per their own religion.” In addition to the children’s testimonies, Simranjeet Singh recited a poem about the martyred younger sons of Guru Gobind Singh.
For the Golden Jubilee celebration, Mary Pat Fisher showed a banner of Gobind Sadan’s logo and explained some of its meanings. She suggested that the two green leaves at the base could be seen as representing Gobind Sadan’s base in Faith and Nam, or Maharaj’s turning barren land into green fields and gardens, or as an open book: Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Maharaj ji said, “If you ask us what is our religion, we can say that it is the religion of Guru Granth Sahib.” In the center of the logo is a picture of Maharaj ji plowing with oxen, representing the hard work and spirit of sharing which have characterized his mission. Over his head are symbols of 12 major world religions, each with its particular focus but all coming from the same One, reflecting Gobind Sadan’s mission of respecting all prophets and their teachings. Mary noted that all the qualities, such as the compassion emphasized in Buddhism, are included in Guru Granth Sahib and in Maharaj’s teachings.
Kirtan was offered by Joginder Kaur, Ekta, Prabhnoor, and Jaspinder Kaur, Harpal Singh, and Gurdaspur sangat. Lena Shagedanov from Russia told the sangat that “Maharaj JI has been helping Russian people every minute. He told Russians that they thought they had achieved freedom, ‘but you have to become free from darkness, merge in the Divine Light, and become God’s helpers. You have to control your mind and learn to meditate.’”
Gurmukh Singh, a longtime devotee who has compiled several books about Maharaj Ji, talked about how the Tenth Guru has described the duties of a kshatriya, and recited his poem about Guru Gobind Singh Ji.
Churchill Chadha, member of Baba Virsa Singh Ji Maharaj Memorial Trust and Vice-President of the Gobind Sadan Institute for Comparative Religion, said, “Guru Gobind Singh was very close to Maharaj Ji. Maharaj Ji has spread his bani, Jaap Sahib, throughout the world in many languages. No one has ever made such sacrifices as Guru Gobind Singh.”
Gurdev Singh, member of Baba Virsa Singh Ji Maharaj Memorial Trust, told some of the miracles of Gobind Sadan, and noted that Maharaj said, “If we have faith and intimacy with God, everything is possible.” Gurdev said, “We all are messengers of Maharaj Ji. Let us spread his message in every household.”
Ranbir Singh, Councillor, was introduced to the sangat and thanked for gracing the occasion, for he has been helping Gobind Sadan with trash collection, street lighting, and other government services.
Hardip Singh concluded the programme by saying, “The Guru never comes or goes. When Maharaj Ji first came to this place, the horse of Guru Gobind Singh was dancing here, so it was named Gobind Sadan. Maharaj Ji said that whoever comes here is blessed. He used to say that we do not need quantity; we need quality. Let us do Naam simran and read path always.”
The Christmas programme on the evening of December 25th started with lovely singing of Kabir’s bani, “Koi bole Ram, koi bole Illahi,” by Bhai Jagtar Singh jatha, Hazoori Ragi from Shahidata Darbar. Ekta, Prabhnoor, and Jaspinder Kaur, and Joginder Kaur with Gobind Sadan girls also offered kirtan. The area MLA, Kartar Singh Tanwar, said, “I am so happy that all religions are celebrated together here, and honouring Jesus’ message of peace.” Gurdev Singh, stage secretary, noted, “We are celebrating Jesus’ birthday without any formalities.” Rai Singh, President of Baba Virsa Singh Ji Maharaj Memorial Trust, told the sangat, “All religions teach love. Whoever came to Maharaj Ji, of any religion, received blessings. We all should learn from Baba Virsa Singh Ji’s teachings—they will benefit the whole country. You are very lucky that you have come here.”
Gurdev Singh pointed out some examples of Gobind Sadan’s non-sectarian character, such as the building of a mosque within a gurdwara according to the precise orientation toward Mecca. Gobind Sadan’s imam, Jabar Ali, led the congregation in reciting “Ik Onkar Sat Nam Siri Wahe Guru.” He said, “All these radiant flowers are thanks to Baba Virsa Singh. We cannot see Him, but He is watching us. To please Him, we must love each other. What you see here is not just for show. It comes from the heart.”
Reverend Bhaskar of St. John’s Church in Mehrauli pointed to the beautiful lighting decorations and said, “There is One Light. All are made from One Light. It is great that in our country there is such a place where all religions are celebrated and respected.” Geeta Singh, Gobind Sadan’s pandit, said, “Maharaj said that when a person believes in all religions, he will get enlightenment.”
Children of Baba Virsa Singh Ji Maharaj Public School presented songs in Punjabi, plays, and a bhangra dance with the whole sangat joining in, capping three days of celebration with an outpouring of great love and joy.