Dr. Satwant Singh Rissam
The Sikh community in the whole world is known for the tradition of ‘seva’. Every time we have floods, earthquake or any other kind of natural calamity, Sikhs are always on the front position with a helping hand. And now ever since Covid-19 pandemic came, Sikhs are once more showing their community spirit in this tough time faced by humanity. In India, the Sikhs have taken forward this ‘seva’ during pandemic by providing ‘langar’, medicines, oxygen cylinders etc. to all people irrespective of religion, caste, gender, social or economic status in several cities in India. In Delhi ‘langar on wheels’ is operated by Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) under which free meals hygienically packed in plastic containers from various Delhi Gurdwaras are being sent daily to different areas for thousands of people.
Moreover, along with it DSGMC has even launched free ambulance service for Covid-19 patients in Delhi. Not only this, a revolutionary step was taken by Delhi Gurdwaras along with several Sikh NGOs when they started providing free oxygen cylinders in shape of ‘langars’ by helping lakhs of people who were gasping for oxygen in the capital. In Delhi, many Sikh organizations also came forward to help many families to perform last rites of their relatives in crematoriums. On the other hand in Punjab, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has started Covid Care Centers at Gurdwara Sri Manji Sahib (Ludhiana), Takht Sri Damdama Sahib (Bathinda) and at Bholath (Kapurthala) to provide totally free treatment to Covid patients. Amid Covid- 19 news, such news of non-profit Sikh NGOs helping people also came from Maharashtra, Odisha and Karnataka and it reaffirmed the faith of people in humanity.
Many Indians, who are not well versed about the Sikh traditions and history, wonder how the Sikh community mobilizes resources and always comes forward to serve in times of crisis. The answer to this tradition of ‘seva’ lies in the teachings of the ten Sikh Gurus which started almost four centuries ago and continues without any kind of discrimination. It’s the reason that in time of Covid-19 pandemic, Sikhs have stepped out to offer help to all even when government was found lacking. These all initiatives have come as a beacon of hope and a way to ensure that needy and helpless don’t die or sleep empty stomach. It is worth recalling that every Sikh since childhood is trained to serve human race and the result of that we have seen in the past, when many supreme sacrifices were made by Sikhs for India which till today has no parallel in history.
The acknowledgment of this contribution of Sikhs during Covid-19 catastrophe has also come out clearly on various social media platforms in India as it is flooded with thanks giving posts and messages praising the Sikh community for their selfless service. In Jammu, although the Gurdwara Parbhandak Committees/Board hasn’t yet started anything on ground but that hasn’t deterred many Sikh volunteer organizations like Sikh Motorcycle Club which is working to provide free packed meals to Covid patients. Many Sikh youths are continuously doing sanitization works in various areas of Jammu city. Even Khalsa Aid, a UK-based humanitarian relief charity, with its group of volunteers in Jammu is providing free oxygen concentrators to needy people and local administration. In addition to it, Onkar Singh ‘Bal Shakti Puraskar’ awardee from Jammu has created a website covidcarejammu.in for the people to combat Covid-19 by seeking expert medical opinion.
When the country is in grip of deadly second wave of Covid -19, the Sikhs have displayed courage of a warrior by coming on the frontline and humbly following the teachings of Sikh Guru Sahibs to serve the humanity. This pandemic has become another shining example of the selfless service of the Sikhs in India. For Sikhs, the social service is the core principle of religion and they have proved it once again when the entire healthcare system of the country is struggling. The Sikhs have stepped up to make sure no one dies until the spirit of Sikhs to serve the humanity is alive. It is all this I am proud of and revere!
The author is BSL, LLB, LLM, PGDHRM, PHD.