TL;DR – That’s what religious harmony looks like.
There’s a Facebook post about what a Sikh temple in Singapore did for 100 Muslim migrant workers is making its rounds. The Sikh temple, Gurudwara Sahib Katong, organised an iftar (meal to break the daily fast during Ramadan) for 100 Muslim migrant workers.
It might be a simple meal, but this act showed why Singapore is such a wonderful place in three very significant ways.
1. People of different faiths coming together in celebration
The event is an example of how people of different faiths come together to celebrate events of religious significance. This isn’t the only example. On the first two days of Chinese New Year, a lot of people throng to the Buddhist Lodge. Traffic gets chaotic. Volunteers from a mosque help to direct traffic. The Buddhist Lodge also has an annual Hong Bao Distribution. where it gives hongbaos to needy Singaporeans, regardless of race or religion.
In the case of this Sikh temple, Sikh volunteers made chapattis fresh, bought dates, made desserts, prepared the seating arrangements and ensured there were enough volunteers to serve the food so every person who broke his fast would be eating a nice and hot meal. And although it was hard work and most of the volunteers were perspiring as they prepared the food, they continued working with smiles on their faces.
2. Serving migrant workers
What’s especially heartwarming about this event is that the Sikhs were serving iftar for migrant workers. While the post didn’t specifically mention, it’s likely that some of those migrant workers are construction workers. Those workers would have an extremely challenging time during Ramadan. Imagine fasting while doing physically demanding work under the hot sun. And these migrant workers probably miss their family more during Ramadan.
This very well done video by CNA gives a very good insight of the emotions of migrant Muslim workers during Ramadan:
So this particular iftar that the Sikh temple organised was a great gesture to ease the homesickness felt by the migrant workers. It shows the Sikh commitment to serve people regardless their background.
Indeed, that’s what Langar, where the iftar meal was prepared, is all about. The Langar is is the term used in Sikhism for the community kitchen in a Gurdwara where a free meal is served to all the visitors, without distinction of religion, caste, gender, economic status or ethnicity. The free meal is always vegetarian.
3. Sikhs standing out of respect during prayers
At the end of the meal, the Muslim migrant workers immediately organised themselves and wanted to pray. It wasn’t in the plan for the workers to hold their prayer in the Sikh temple. But the people in charge of the temple were perfectly comfortable with the Muslims praying in their temple.
More amazingly, as the Muslim workers got ready for their Magrhib prayer, all the Sikhs stood up and stood still. What’s more, the Sikhs didn’t move until the Muslim workers ended their prayer. As the post mentioned:
“we can all take a moment to absorb how beautiful, open, compassionate and loving our Singaporean Sikhs are.”
This is a demonstration that we don’t only have religious tolerance in Singapore, we have religious respect and harmony too. And that’s what makes Singapore such a beautiful place.
(Featured image via)