KUALA LUMPUR: The Sikh community celebrated Vasakhi yesterday with calls for a renewal of their commitment to their faith.
The highlight of the celebrations were prayers at temples to mark the beginning of the harvest season and the day when the order of the Khalsa was created by the 10th Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, that led to a renewed spirit of brotherhood in 1699.
The three-day festival started days earlier with the reading of the Sikh Holy Book, a task lasting some 48 hours and carried out in two-hour shifts.
At temples, free food was offered to all regardless of faith or race and the kitchen was bustling with volunteers preparing the meals.
At the Wisma Tatt Khalsa in Jalan Raja Alang, a brief flag-changing ceremony was held.
Hari Singh, a devotee, explained: The flag is a symbol to everyone nearby ... should anyone need food, shelter or spiritual relief, they are welcome here whatever their race or religion.
This year, we recited special prayers for world peace, he added.
The temple committee set up an exhibition tracing the roots of the community since 1873, when British officer Capt Speedy brought along 110 Sikh soldiers to Malaya to settle disputes in Perak.
The younger generation (of Sikhs) are largely unaware of how the community started in Malaysia, so this exhibition is to make them aware, said Universiti Putra Malaysia doctorate student Sarjit S. Gill.
In Ipoh, the Gurdawara Sahib Pusing and the Gurdawara Sahib Buntong were a hive of activity as the community in Perak celebrated Vasakhi.
The highlight of this years celebrations was the Nagar-Kirtan (chariot procession) during which the Guru Granth Sahib (Sikh Holy Book) was carried around Pusing town on Sunday evening.
The chariot was the fibreglass one used in the movie Anna and The King.
Built in 1893, the Gurdawara Sahib Pusing is believed to be the oldest Sikh temple in Perak.