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ੴ ਸਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਕਰਤਾ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਨਿਰਭਉ ਨਿਰਵੈਰੁ ਅਕਾਲ ਮੂਰਤਿ ਅਜੂਨੀ ਸੈਭੰ ਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ॥
The Maritime Sikh Society
10 Parkhill Road, Halifax, NS, Canada, B3P 1R3
Ph (902) 477-0008

The Maritime Sikh Society: A Historical Perspective

By Jagpal Singh Tiwana

Nova Scotia, Canada’s “ocean playground”, started attracting Sikhs to its beautiful land in the early nineteen sixties. Most of the Sikhs who came here were teachers, engineers and doctors. Among them, Gajinder Singh Chowdhury is believed to be the first Sikh to reach Nova Scotia. Landing in Ottawa in 1958 from UK, he moved to Halifax in 1959. After finishing his studies at the Dalhousie University, he obtained a teaching position with the Halifax city public school system in 1961. In March 1962, his father, Capt. Basant Singh from Uganda, joined him. An engineer by profession, Basant Singh started working as a Director of Planning for the Provincial government. Gajinder was a welcoming face to most Punjabi newcomers making them feel a little bit at home. “ Whenever Gajinder heard about a new family coming to Nova Scotia, he was at the airport, or ship's dock, to receive them”, recalls Devi Dayal, a school teacher who himself was received by him in 1964.

Religious meetings and congregations, however, started when two other dedicated Sikhs, Dr. Kirtan Singh and Gurcharan Singh Sidhu arrived on the scene. Dr. Kirtan Singh was a mathematics teacher at Saint Mary's University. Originally, from Bombay, he came here in 1967. Gurcharan Singh's original place was Lehra Khana in Distt. Bathinda, Punjab. He got a teaching position in the public school system in 1966. Now the three of them, Singh, Sidhu and Chowdhury, started meeting frequently. They decided to hold congregations at their homes once a month on a Sangrand day. “First Sangrand was held at our apartment on Morris Street in Halifax in April, 1967 “ recalls Mrs. Kirtan Singh. Encouraged by the response of other Sikh families, they thought of starting a formal body to look after the religious and cultural needs of the Sikhs.

Ad Hoc Committee

Gurcharan Singh invited Sikh families from all over Nova Scotia to attend the Baisakhi celebrations in April 1968 at his house at 4 Scotsburn Avenue, Dartmouth. Besides the Sikh families from Halifax and Dartmouth, people came from Truro, New Glasgow and Sydney. “ There were Dr. Kirtan Singh, Gajinder Chowdhary, Dr. Dalip Singh Chehil, Pyara Singh Randhawa, Gursharan Singh Toor, Gulzar SinghClair, Surinder Bhalla, Kishan Singh, Gurmel Singh Sandhu, Surjit Singh, Gurdev Jolly, Shiv Bajwa, Mohinder Sehmby, and Mohan Singh, I might have forgotten some", tries to remember Mrs. Surjit Sidhu, the hostess of the gathering. The issue of establishing a formal organization of the Sikhs was presented and discussed. An ad hoc committee, with Dr. Kirtan Singh as chairperson and Gurcharan Sidhu and Gajinder Chowdhury as members, was formed to draft a constitution for the society. Thus, the Maritime Sikh Society (MSS) was conceived.

The First Year

At the completion of its first year, we have some interesting figures.

The first financial statement for the year 1968 -69 was presented by G S Chowdhury, treasurer, Ad Hoc Committee at the General Body meeting on March 15, 1969.
Income $1,061. 58 (starting with Previous balance - nil)
Expenditure $228.71
Bank balance on March 1, 1969 $832.8

Membership fee for a single member was $10 and there were 27 members in the first year. Mostly devotees would offer $1.25 for Karah Parshad, a continuation of the practice from India.

The Constitution:

The ad hoc committee studied the constitutions of several Sikh organizations in Canada, especially that of the Ottawa Sikh Society, before giving final shape to its constitution. Finally, in 1969, the constitution was approved and the first executive took oath of office with Dr. Kirtan Singh as President, Gurcharan Sidhu as Secretary and Gajinder Chowdhury as treasurer.

They continued to hold monthly prayer meetings at their residences. Slowly more people, including some Hindus, joined in and they offered their places for the occasion. As the gatherings grew larger and larger, need to have a bigger place for holding monthly congregations became evident. At that time, Gajinder Chowdhary was teaching at Duc D' Anville School in Clayton Park, Halifax. He arranged to get free access to the gymnasium of the school for this purpose. We held few meetings there, but finally Masonic hall at 20 Ashdale Street, in Clayton Park, Halifax was retained on a nominal rent per meeting " observed, Kishan Singh, who served on the executive for many years.

Lot for the Gurdwara Building

As more East Indian immigrants came to the region, regular monthly prayer assemblies got momentum. Monetary donations started coming in. This encourage

d the executive and the general membership of the MSS to think about building a permanent site for the Gurdwara. Many sites in the metropolitan area were looked at. A church building at alongside Woodlawn Road in Dartmouth was a serious contender, but finally, it was decided to buy a vacant lot at 10 Parkhill Road in Halifax.

Dr. Kirtan Singh, President of the MSS, called a meeting of the General Body on March 20, 1971 at the Masonic Hall in Halifax to get its approval for the purchase. The following members of the General Body attended the meeting. Dr. and Mrs. K S Bhatia, M S Bhogal, Mr. and Mrs. G S Chowdhury, Dr. S S Sodhi, M S Sehmby, Dr. and Mrs. Kirtan Singh, Mr. Kishan Singh, G S Sidhu and S P Thapar. In addition to this, M S Hans, Mr. and Mrs. Randhir Sekhon, G S Toor, Mr. and Mrs. Kehar Singh Virik attended on special invitations. Dr. Sodhi submitted a four-page report, " Information on the Lot under Consideration." G S Toor and Dr. K S Bhatia sought some clarification, but overall expressed satisfaction. Finally, there was unanimity in the general body that the lot at 10 Parkhill Drive be purchased for the price $7300 and the deed was signed on May 3, 1971

The Split

Unfortunately, some ideological differences developed in the Society over the qualifications of members. Dr. Kirtan Singh, Gajinder Chowdhury and some families withdrew from the Society and started holding separate meetings in their homes, but the MSS continued to hold its congregations at the 20 Ashdale Street, Masonic Hall, and Halifax under a new executive with Gurcharan Singh Sidhu as President. The differences, however, did not create any bitterness between the two parties. Some families were attending congregations on both sides since Dr. Kirtan Singh had graciously moved his Sunday meetings to Saturdays to avoid any conflict with the Gurdwara Congregations on Sundays. He was also teaching Punjabi language classes to the children of all Sikh families. Unity was restored after sometime, but unfortunately, this postponed the Gurdwara building project.

Gurdwara Building

The post-split period between 1971 and 1978 has been quite critical to the Society. The attendance at the congregations had gone down, and it was hard to find volunteers for positions on the executive. Gurcharan Singh, however, did not give up. He continued his efforts towards building a Gurdwara with the support of such dedicated people as Dr. D S Chehil, Dr. S S Sodhi, J J Singh, Mrs. K Bhatia, G S Brar, Kishan Singh, M S Sidhu, G S Clair, M S Clair, Harinder Singh, S S Bhalla, Bant Singh Gandhu, R S Sekhon, G S Toor, P S Randhawa, Mohan Singh, K S Dhillon, and J S Bajwa. These people exchanged positions on the executive year after year. In this context, a newsletter written by Dr. S S Sodhi in Feb 1974, as Secretary of the Society, provides clear information on their commitment to build the Gurdwara. It is given in the newsletter that a building committee was formed with S S Bhalla as chairperson and Onkar Singh, P S Randhawa, and Harinder Singh as members. A fund raising committee, consisting of Dr. Mohan Singh Viriek, Dr. Harsharan Singh Khalsa, Dr. Surinder Singh Sodhi, Gulzar Singh Clair, Gurcharan Singh Sidhu, Jagpal Singh Tiwana and P S Purba, was formed. The Society got a total commitment of $25,000 from thirty people. Onkar Singh, an architect, drafted a plan for the gurdwara building.

Somehow, things did not click. Little progress was seen for the next four years, but Gurbhagat Singh Brar, affectionately called Baba Brar because of his patriarchic status, was often heard admonishing, "Even sparrows make nests for themselves, so why can't we build a Gurdwara for ourselves?"

In 1978-79, Pyara Singh Randhawa, a schoolteacher, was elected President of the society. Originally from Village Randhawa (Masandan), Distt. Jalandhar, Pyara Singh came to Nova Scotia in 1965. Pyara Singh came determined and committed to enthuse the society and to build a gurdwara for it. Cool and composed, acceptable to all with immense patience and tolerance, he was the right person at the right time.

Immediately, after assuming office, he applied himself wholeheartedly with a single-minded devotion towards the building project. The biggest challenge for him was to raise funds for the new building. There were about fifty Sikh families in Nov Scotia at the time. Randhawa went from town to town, from house to house, to collect donations. "I want $1000 from every family if both husband and wife are working; $500 from every family with a single earning member", insisted Pyara Singh after writing himself the first cheque of $1000 for the collection. Many Hindu families also made donations for the building fund. Pyara Singh was assisted in this formidable task by his Executive consisting of Baba G S Brar as vice-president, Baljinder Singh Dhillon as secretary, Gurpas Singh Sidhu as treasurer, and Gurmeet Singh Matharu as the executive member

Opening of the Gurdwara - November 19, 1978

On June 4, 1978, Dr. Kartar Singh Sandhu laid father of Mrs. Kuldip Kaur Chehil, a devout Gursikh and a medical doctor on a visit from India the foundation stone of the Gurdwara building. The date June 4, 1978 is recorded in the diary of Mrs. Satpal Sodhi's mother Mrs. Swarn Kaur, who along with her husband Dr. Munsha Singh was present on the occasion.

The Gurdwara was formally opened to the worshippers on Sunday, November 19, 1978 as part of Guru Nanak’s birthday celebrations. Dr. Norman Budgey of the Nova Scotia Teachers College and Dr. S S Sodhi of the Dalhousie University were the guest speakers on the occasion, while M S Bindra of Montreal recited the shabad kirtan

Property at 12 Parkhill Road

A house next to the Gurdwara at 12 Parkhill Road came on sale in 1982. Gursharan Singh Toor brought this to the notice of the President, Bant Singh Gandhu and Secretary Mukhtar Singh Clair. "This property, though old, had a great potential. It could be a source of rental income to the Society. There is much needed parking space at the back and if demolished could be converted into a playground for the children," observed Mukhtar Singh. He called a meeting of the general body, presented the case and made an appeal for funds. About $14000 was raised immediately, adequate for the down payment. The property was bought for $50,000 on March 15, 1983. Dalip Singh Chehil, Surinder Singh Sodhi, Gulzar Singh Clair, Gursharan Singh Toor, Bant Singh Gandhu, and Shiv Singh Datt signed a mortgage loan of $37, 500. on behalf of the Society with the Royal Bank.

Revised New Constitution

With the passage of time and in view of the new developments at the national and the international level affecting Sikhs, changes in the MSS constitution became necessary.

A committee with Shiv Datt as chairperson was appointed. The committee studied the situation and made recommendations, which were approved by the general body on March 27,1988.

" In the old constitution any body from across Canada could become a member ’’, remarks Kulvinder Singh Dhillon who was president at the time, “ We lay down that a person must have been a resident of the Maritime region for one year before he or she could become a member. We also redefined membership, Sikhism, procedure to amend the constitution and a few such items "

Expansion

With the arrival of more Sikh families in Nova Scotia, it was felt that the gurdwara was somewhat small for their needs. In 1996-97 when S. Pyara Singh Randhawa became President again, a building committee consisting of Surinder Singh Bhalla, Mohan Singh Bhogal, Dr. Dalip Singh Chehil, Kulvinder Singh Dhillon and Harinder Singh, was set up to advise and help Pyara Singh expand and renovate the Gurdwara. Pyara Singh spent many days and nights in the Gurdwara helping construction workers wherever and whenever it was needed. Pyara Singh's dedication and capacity for hard work also came to the notice of others in the community. " The heart and soul behind the new endeavor is none other than the current President of MSS, S. Pyara Singh Randhawa, a true and humble "Sewadar" of the community " observed INCA President, Yashwant Rai, in the INCA newsletter.

Pyara Singh was duly honored with a Siropa, robe of honor, presented by Harinder Singh on behalf of the building committee and Sangat on Feb 2, 1997, the day the Gurdwara was reopened for the congregation's use.

Society’s Contribution

The Maritime Sikh Society in the last thirty-two years has made a tremendous contribution towards the religious, cultural, and social lives of Sikhs in the Maritimes. It is the only Gurdwara for Sikhs east of Montreal. Twice a year, once on Guru Nanak’s birthday in November, and a second time on Baisakhi celebrations in April, the MSS arranges shabad Kirtan of Professional ragis (musicians) from Toronto or elsewhere.

Society of Volunteers

The Maritime Sikh Society is an organization of volunteers. There is no paid employee, or a priest, or a ragi (musician) or a langari (cook). Each member contributes voluntarily according to his or her capacity, qualifications, or skills. Volunteers take turns in offering Ardas (supplicatory prayer), reciting vak (Guru’s word of wisdom for the day), counting charawa (money offered), singing hymns, and preparing and serving food in the langar. Some knowledgeable persons like Harinder Singh, Satnam Singh Randhawa and Gurmeet Singh perform wedding and cremation ceremonies. There is no permanent position for any body. Executive is elected every year and has always been elected unanimously. There has never been a contest in the history of the Society for any position on the executive. Since the number of Sikh families is small in the Halifax-Dartmouth area, some people have served on the executive for more than one term. Pyara Singh Randhawa and Bant Singh Gandhu have dserved as Presidents for four terms.

Reaching out to the Community

The MSS has not been serving the Halifax community only; it has also held functions out of the metropolitan area. It held congregations at Jagpal Tiwana's home in Truro on February 19, 1971, at Dr. Khalsa's home in Glace Bay on October 10, 1971, again at Dr. Khalsa's in Glace Bay on October 8, 1972, and Baisakhi celebrations at Dr. Mohan Viriek's place in Sydney in April 1973 and again in April 1974.

In October 1975, Dr. Norman Budgey, Professor of Humanities at the Nova Scotia Teachers College in Truro, organized an Interfaith Seminar at the College. Since other religious organizations sent one representative each, the MSS, contributed by holding a monthly congregation there. It was a tremendous effort, and the Society received excellent complimentary coverage in the media.

Women’s Role

One of the most praiseworthy features of the MSS is the respect and treatment given to its women members. They are not confined to preparing Langar or cleaning dishes; they participate fully in all affairs and activities of the Society. They are treated at par with the men in holding positions or performing ceremonies in the Gurdwara. They sing hymns, share Akhand Path duties, make speeches, organize walkathons and picnics, etc. The Ardas prayer at the culmination of the ceremonies is often performed by Mrs. Satpal Kaur Sodhi and mini Ardas at the Sukh Asan ceremony is mostly done by Mrs. Savinder Sekhon or Mrs. Swinder Clair . India's High Commissioner, S. Gurdial Singh Dhillon, when saw a woman leading the Ardas ceremony in our Gurdwara, offered the compliment, "This is the first time I have seen a woman performing an Ardas in a Gurdwara. You have given them the equal rights they deserve. "

In 1992-93, Mrs. Gurdip Kaur Toor was elected president. In fact, all the elected members of her executive were women. This is the first time that a women executive was elected to run a Gurdwara in North America, or perhaps in the entire Sikh world. In 1993-94, Mrs. Surjit Kaur Sidhu, and in 1997-98, Mrs. Gurinder Kaur Dhillon, were presidents.

Children’s Classes

The Society has been holding regular classes for teaching the Punjabi language and shabad kirtan to the children. The classes are conducted by professional teachers and trained musicians. . The Gurdwara also provides a platform for children to hold Bhangra and Giddha practice and training there. This has resulted in producing very talented Giddha team, Phulkari, for girls and Pardesi Punjab Bhangra Squad team for boys.

Every year in June, the Maritime Sikh Society participates in the Nova Scotia Multicultural Festival held on the Dartmouth waterfront. A food stall to serve Punjabi delicacies and a heritage craft booth to educate visitors about Sikh traditions and handicrafts are set up at the Festival. Young boys and girls put on a very colorful performance in the cultural program highlighting many ethnic groups in the area.

On the first Sunday in July every year, the Society arranges a picnic to celebrate Canada Day. The Society also liberally donates funds to many humanitarian causes, whether they are in Canada or India

Library

The MSS library has a rich collection of books on Sikh religion, history and culture, both in English and Punjabi languages. Most of the books have been bought with the Society's money, but sometimes we got good donations from individuals and organizations especially the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, Amritsar. It has the famous translations of Sri Guru Granth Sahib by Manmohan Singh, Gopal Singh and Gurbachan Singh Talib and Mahan Kosh of Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha and the four volume set of Encyclopedia of Sikhism. Renowned scholars like Sahib Singh, Ganda Singh, Teja Singh, Harbans Singh, J S Grewal, Khushwant Singh, Patwant Singh, Gopal Singh, S S Kohli, Taran Singh, Sant Singh Sekhon, Hew McLeod and other specialists on the subjects, are well represented.

Gurmeet Singh Matharu has been looking after the library for most of the years.

Visitors

Professionals with an open and liberal outlook have run the Society. It has invited and welcomed people with divergent religious and political beliefs and philosophies to its platform. If Bhai Lakhbir Singh, nephew of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhinderwale, visits on the one hand, then personnel of the Indian High Commission visit also. Over the years, the Society has been visited by such distinguished people as the celebrated Pakistani poet, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, renowned Punjabi litterateur, Sant Singh Sekhon, scholars like Dr. Hew McLeod, Dr. J S Grewal, Giani Lal Singh Gujranwalia, and Bhai Harbans Lal, Punjabi folk singer Surinder Kaur, and King of Gazzals, Mehandi Hassan, India’s High Commissioner, Gurdial Singh Dhillon, and political activists such as, Boota Singh former Home Minister of India, Dr. Bhagat Singh, a former Akali cabinet minister in Punjab Government, Justice Ajit Singh Bains, Rajni Kothari, Madhukeshwar, and Gurbax Singh Malhi, a Canadian Member of Parliament. Often the distinguished visitor is honored with a Siropa and a cultural evening at a local restaurant

Jap Tap Samagams

The MSS executive came to know from Dr. J S Chawla that there was a Calgary based society of Gursikh devotees that holds Jap Tap Samagam in different parts of North America. It is a two or three days religious gatherings depending upon whether it is a regular or long weekend The Samagam could be held in Halifax if the executive so desired. On its approval and invitation the first Jap Tap Samagam was held in Halifax on April 28 ­30, 1989. It was a resounding success. The devotees came from far and distant places from all over North America. They recited Shabads and performed Simran with rare vigor and emotions that the whole gurdwara started resounding Wahiguru, Wahiguru. The Samagams continued year after year and the last Samagam was held on March 31 - April 3 1994.

Stays in touch with the Sikh world
Attack on Golden temple - June 1984

The MSS stays in touch with the developments in the Sikh world in India, as well as abroad. When the Golden Temple in Amritsar was attacked in June 1984, it organized a protest march on the streets of Halifax. People came from Truro, New Glasgow and Sydney to participate in the march. It was a very peaceful demonstration. The participants recited gurbani and religious hymns. They, however, wanted to draw the attention of the public and media to their sorrow.

Our trusted and devoted leaders, President Pyara Singh Randhawa and Secretary Satnam Singh Randhawa provided a sound and solid leadership to the community in this turbulent period.

First Batch of Sikh Refugees

On the morning of Sunday, July 12, 1987, the residents of Charlesville, in Shelburne County, Nova Scotia, awoke to find that the ship Amelie had landed 174 men on their shores. The immigrants were mostly Sikhs from the Punjab. They were fleeing persecution in their homeland. However, the villagers received them warmly and fed the hungry "guests", the RCMP took them in custody, brought them to Halifax, and detained them in a large gymnasium of the CFB, Stadcona,

The Canadian community was, however, divided in their attitude towards them. The liberal Dartmouth Mayor John Savage supported them, while the Halifax Mayor Ron Wallis opposed what he called it an illegal entry. The Maritime Sikh Society, under the solid and sensible leadership of its president, Kulvinder Dhillon, welcomed their Sikh brethren warmly. The MSS raised funds to help the refugee cause. Food was prepared in the Gurdwara Langar and delivered to them. The MSS got good support from Sikhs all over Canada. Talvinder Singh Parmar, chief of the Babar Khasla, brought Mendel Green, a well-reputed immigration lawyer from Toronto, to represent the refugees and to get them out of the detention camp. Narinder Pal Singh and Satnam Singh Randhawa, two prominent members of our society, were very active and vocal in support of the refugee cause. Narinder Pal Singh provided a personal bond to get the first refugee, Amrik Singh Dhindsa, out of detention. . Dhindsa was given a room in the gurdwara. But soon all the refugees were released after several Sikh organizations from across Canada posted bonds on their behalf. They left for Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver and other towns in Canada to settle there.

Second Batch of Sikh Refugees

On January 27, 1992, at about 10.30 am, 13 Sikh stoways were discovered aboard a Polish container ship, Kazimier Pulaski by the Customs and Ports Canada. " They were in terrible shape. They were hungry, some were sick and throwing up, others were shivering with cold " recalls Mrs. Geeta Batra, a local East Indian, who acted as interpreter for the immigration authorities. " I gave the authorities the phone number of the Indo Canada Association and through them they made contact with the Maritime Sikh Society ". This time the refugees got better treatment from the immigration authorities than the first batch of refugees that came in July 1987. They were not kept in any detention Camp; they were free to move out as long as they reported on the immigration hearing date. The two Germans, who brought them in the container ship, were, however, arrested.

Dr. Jagjit Singh Goomar, president of the MSS, acted as their interpreter when they met the media on January 29, 1992. They said they boarded the ship at Khandala, India on December 25, 1991. They were members of the All India Sikh Students. Federation, which stood for autonomous Punjab and hence were persecuted by the Government of India. They feared for their lives if sent back.

" We had horrible time in the container. Mrs. Geeta Batra was very helpful in getting us food and medical help. However, when we came out of the ship and saw the smiling face of a turbaned Sikh brother, our joy knew no bounds. He was Mukhtar Singh Clair, secretary of the MSS, the first Sikh we saw on the foreign land. He was there to greet and receive us. We thanked AkalPurkh for answering our prayers." Observes Swinder Singh Jawanda, one of the refugees who got settled in Halifax after getting immigration." Mr. Clair took us to the Gurdwara and we stayed there for about a month. President Goomar and his executive looked after us very well. Besides the executive, there were the Sidhu brothers, Pardeep and Bruno who were very friendly and hospitable to us. They occasionally took us to their homes, gave us winter clothes and shoes and provided us much needed social company. "

" The refugees were responsible people and behaved very well. They were quite knowledgeable about the Sikh scriptures and ceremonies. They would prepare langar, read holy Guru Granth Sahib, perform religious ceremonies and conducted Akhand Paths. They painted the Gurdwara and kept it neat and clean.," remarked Jasbir Bajwa, Treasurer of the MSS.

President Goomar also attended the immigration proceedings and acted as the refugees' interpreter. All the 13 refugees got immigration and they were settled in different parts of Canada.

The Turban Controversy

In the beginning of 1994, an unfortunate controversy had started in the Canadian press regarding the right of a Sikh veteran to wear a turban in the legion hall. The Royal Canadian Legion in Calgary had stopped a Sikh veteran from entering the hall with turban. This brought volley of protests from all Sikh institutions and organizations. The MSS too contributed its share. Mrs. Satpal Sodhi, secretary of the MSS at the time came out with a strong and forceful article, " Turban debate plays havoc with Sikhs' psyche" in favor of the Sikh veterans.

The focus of the article was to make readers cognizant of the religious, traditional, cultural, and personal importance of the turban to a practicing Sikh. Emphasizing the nature of the Canadian society as a unique display of a multicultural mosaic and the Canadians being very sensitive, intelligent, generous, compassionate and sharing people, she wrote "I have full confidence that we, as Canadians, will preserve this image; and I fervently hope that the Royal Canadian Legion will have a second look at the decision it made recently in Calgary."

The article was later published in the Mail Star on June 8. 1994. It was widely appreciated by all who read it.

Tercentenary Celebrations

In April 1999, when Sikhs all over the world were celebrating the tercentenary anniversary of the birth of the Khalsa, the MSS president G S Toor and his executive put on a splendid show at the Sheraton Hotel in Halifax with a cultural evening of speeches, poems, songs and folk dances. The theme of the evening was based on Guru Gobind Singh's teaching, " Manush ke zaat Sabe eko Pehchanbo " - all humankind has one caste only. Noble and heroic deeds of the Khalsa were glorified.

The function was neatly organized under the guidance and care of president Toor and the historic event was celebrated with grace and dignity it deserved.

Web Site

The MSS also launched its web site on the Internet as part of its tercentenary celebrations. It can be accessed at Maritime Sikh Society . The site contains information not only about the Society, its current executive, addresses of its members, its events and programs, but also links to many other relevant pages, such as those of the SGPC, DGMC, translation of Guru Granth Sahib, Hukamnama from Golden Temple, Government of Punjab, Gurbani music, and news from Punjab and India etc. The site has brought us in touch with other Sikh organizations in the world.

Gurdwara is open to all

The Society welcomes people of all communities to the Gurdwara, in keeping with Sikh traditions. Hindu families are often seen at the Gurpurb celebrations and on other important occasions. Some Hindu families, not only attend regular congregations, but also offer Langar (food) service. Announcements are made in the Gurdwara if there is a special function in the Hindu temple or in the East Indian Community; in general. The Gurdwara atmosphere is free from communal tension and petty politics.

Conclusion

The Maritime Sikh Society has much to be proud of in its continuing support of the cultural, religious and social lives of Sikh residents in the region. In its relatively short history, it has grown into a vibrant community of friends. The new millennium promises even more success for the Society.