Sikh community of Wellington remembers young martyrs


Indian High Commissioner Neeta Bhushan flanked by young members of the Sikh diaspora in Wellington (Photo supplied)

Venu Menon
Wellington, December 27,2023

The High Commission of India observed Veer Baal Diwas at its premises in Wellington on 26 December 2023 to mark the martyrdom of Guru Gobind Singh’s sons during Mughal rule in India.

The 10th Sikh   Guru’s sons, Fateh Singh and Zorawar Singh, were aged nine and seven, respectively, when they were entombed in a brick enclosure for holding steadfastly to their faith in 1705.

Veer Baal Diwas was officially commemorated by the Government of India from 26 December 2022.

High Commissioner of India to New Zealand Neeta Bhushan, addressing a gathering of the diaspora, said the bravery of the young martyrs was “unthinkable at such a young age.”

“Their sacrifice is an inspiration to all of us, and to millions around the world,” she noted.

High Commissioner Bhushan gave a brief account of the historical events leading to the martyrdom of Guru Gobind Singh’s sons.

“That is part of our deep historical roots and, though several 100 years have passed, we are proud to commemorate the event and to pay homage to them [the young martyrs] because they have shown to the younger generation – and to all of us – that fear is something we can overcome if we have the courage and the conviction to fight for our values, to fight against injustice,” she said.

High Commissioner Bhushan added: “We have not seen such bravery [displayed] at such a young age throughout our history….. Veer Baal Diwas tells us what India is, what India’s identity is. India is an ancient civilisation and its people have stood up to foreign invaders.”

The High Commissioner noted that Veer Baal Diwas was first commemorated in 2022 at the initiative of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. She quoted Prime Minister Modi as saying that the martyrdom of Guru Gobind Singh’s four sons – Fateh Singh, Zorawar Singh as well as Ajith Singh and Jujhar Singh [who died in battle] – was an unsung chapter of Indian history that needed to be proclaimed before the whole world.

Prime Minister Modi had launched many initiatives targeted at all communities, particularly the Sikh community, High Commissioner Bhushan said, and added: “He [Mr Modi] inaugurated the Kartarpur Corridor so that Sikh pilgrims could go and visit their holy sites in Pakistan. He also removed the tax on the  Langar [Sikh community kitchen]. Prime Minister Modi also celebrated the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev ji  a few years ago, which was celebrated by Indian missions around the world.”

High Commissioner Bhushan closed her address by noting: “We are blessed to be from India. We are also blessed that we have a leader [Prime Minister Modi] who puts in so much of effort and thinking into [giving due importance to] the small incidents of history that were lost but are now being celebrated around the world.”

Prof Kirpal Singh, an elder of the Sikh community in Wellington, noted that the sons of Guru Gobind Singh, “who were bricked in,” were imbued with the spiritual strength gained from their early  exposure to  the Gurbani.

“Guru Gobind Singh ji is the only person in India, and perhaps the world, whose father as well as sons sacrificed their lives to uphold Indian traditions, faith and way of life. They did not succumb to pressure from the Mughals to surrender their values,” Mr Singh noted, adding, “Where India stands today, there is the great contribution of Guru Gobind Singh ji and our Sahibzadas  in protecting Indian culture and traditions.”

Other speakers included Sikh community elder Gursharan  Singh, Wellington Punjabi Women’s Association president Navneet Kaur and Wellington Punjabi Sports and Cultural Association member Daler Singh.

Second Secretary (Culture, info & Press) Durga Dass hosted the event and enlightened the audience on Sikh history.

The gathering was left heavy- hearted after witnessing a documentary depicting the martyrdom of Guru Gobind Singh’s sons.

Venu Menon is an Indian Newslink reporter based in Wellington

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