September 26, 2023

This Nov. 22, the Filipino-Indian community will celebrate the 550 years birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Devji. Nanak was the founder of Sikkhism, one of the youngest religions. He was born on April 15, 1469. Mahatma Gandhi was born on Oct. 2, 1869 thus celebrating his 150 years birth anniversary. Gandhi was the “architect of a form of non-violent civil disobedience.”
Guru Nanak symbolized spirituality while Mahatma Gandhi symbolized peace.
Gandhi was an Indian lawyer, politician, social activist, and writer. He started as a lawyer in London then moved to South Africa. There he was face-to-face with the reality issues on racial segregation and discrimination suffered by Indian immigrants at the hands of white British and Boer authorities.
He experienced discrimination himself when he was forced out of a train. He vowed to fight the “deep disease of color prejudice” and led the first “satyagraha,” a mass civil disobedience campaign. In 1914, he returned to India, founded an ashram, and lived an austere life devoted to prayer, fasting, and meditation.
He became known as “Mahatma” the great soul. He led the opposition to British rule in India. He was arrested, released, and arrested again. He protested the British Salt Acts, which prohibited Indians from collecting and selling salt, a staple ingredient in food. His act sparked similar protest movements and mass disobedience campaigns that swept across India. Gandhi’s non-violent, non-cooperative independence movement won India’s independence against the British rule in the 20th century.
Great movies were made about him, which made people all over the world aware of his non-violent protest movements and hunger strikes. Gandhi, the 1982 movie of Richard Attenborough, was an epic historical drama film based on the life of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi with Ben Kingsley in the starring role. “He served as an inspiration and a beacon of hope for marginalized people throughout the world for the Indian people.” He will always be remembered for his simple white loin cloth made from his own spinning wheel. In 1948, he was killed by a Hindu extremist named Nathuram Godse. His sacrifice inspired other civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela.
We probably would have to go back and watch Gandhi, to appreciate the epic contribution of this great man to the world.
According to historical research Guru Nanak became the “first Sikh guru (teacher) and his spiritual teachings laid the foundation on which Sikhism was formed. Sikhism is a monotheistic religion which believes that God is shapeless, timeless and invisible.” Nanak traveled to many countries to spread the message of God, from India to Pakistan to Sri Lanka to the difficult terrain of the Himalayas, Nepal and Tibet. He was also one of the most important religious leaders who contributed to women empowerment in India. He appealed to his followers to treat women with respect and as an equal.
This year, in commemoration of Guru Nanak’s 550 years, commemorative stamps will be released during the “2nd Colors of Incredible India 2019” celebration at the Baguio Museum. Please visit the Baguio Museum and see the historical mural of Guru Nanak and Mahatma Gandhi after the opening on Nov. 22.
It is the hope of this celebration that peace and spirituality will embrace the Baguio Filipino-Indian community for years to come. Congratulations to Ram Sharma and the Filipino-Indian community and its prime movers.
Happy birthday to Gladys Vergara-de Vera, chair of the Baguio Tourism Council, and Regie Barlin of Hairtech.