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Guru Nanak: 550th Birth Anniversary commemorated in Leicester.

Wednesday 23 October 2019
New Walk Museum & Art Gallery, Leicester
Sikhs all over the world in 2019 are commemorating the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, the revered figure of the Sikh faith. As a result the Sikh Museum Initiative on the 23rd October 2019 at the prestigious New Walk Museum, Leicester brought together important figures who could describe and elucidate the Guru’s philosophy in a befitting way.  

Raj Mann

Hosted by the SMI’s Raj Mann, who first introduced Councillor Piara Singh Clair (Deputy City Mayor) who set the scene as to what Guru Nanak means to Sikhs and other faiths all around the world. This was followed by Sikh historian and Director of the Sikh Museum Initiative-Gurinder Singh Mann, who gave a succinct description of Guru Nanak’s message from the development of the Pothi Sahib to the Guru’s contribution to women’s rights.

This was followed by Jasvir Kaur Rababan (Raj Academy)who gave an insightful description of the Rabab and other musical instruments that are intrinsic to the Sikh faith and their importance should not be devalued with modernity. The team also brought a Rebab which was on display.

Councillor Piara Singh Clair: Gurinder Singh Mann and Jasvir Kaur Rababan

This was followed by a panel of expert speakers who discussed the life of Guru Nanak and his contribution to the world thorough his philosophy, musicology and community values. The panel consisting of Dr Gurnam Singh-(University of Coventry and Akaal Channel Presenter), Dr Iqtidar Cheema (Advisory Board Member at United Nations), Narinder Kaur Bring (PHD student in Sikh Musicology-University of Wolverhampton).

Dr Iqtidar Cheema, Narinder Kaur Bring , Dr Gurnam Singh

Questions ranged from ‘what was the mission of Guru Nanak’? through to ‘what was the significance of Kirtan and Gurbani?  The Udasis (journeys) which Guru Nanak took was discussed through to the practical values of love, tolerance and interfaith being more important than the idolisation of Guru Nanak. Trying to put the Guru in a box or a certain frame is not the way his mission should be remembered but in the practical values of ‘truthful living’


The evening was enhanced by the Sikh Museum Initiative releasing three new 3d objects as part of the Anglo Sikh Virtual Museum a project funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. This included a Sikh Empire Coin (depicting Maharajah Ranjit Singh paying homage to Guru Nanak), an Avatars Sword with a cartouche panel of Guru Nanak from the collection of Sukhbinder Singh Paul Collection together with a unique sword/pistol that belonged to the Maharajah of Patiala, Punjab, and now in the collections of the Nottingham Museum Service. These were made visible through virtual reality headsets and 3d touchscreens. Taran3d was on hand to showcase this important work.

Amandeep Kaur (Bespoke Art)

Also as part of the evening, an amazing Art display was curated by Amandeep Kaur (Bespoke Art) who put together a collage of her work which depicted Guru Nanak not only in art but also through the words as expressed through the Guru Granth Sahib.

The evening culminated with a delightful musical accompaniment by the Violin Twins, two 16-year old’s who played Rags of Music through the violin which gave a great spin to the music of Guru Nanak.

Violin Twins

The langar was provided by Guru Tegh Bahadur Gurdwara  Leicester and the event was attended by individuals from across the country, Councillors across the city, the business community, members of different faiths including the Christian and Muslim and Hindus who left with a better understanding of Guru Nanak.

The Sikh Museum Initiative would like to thank the Leicester City Museums Service for giving space to host this important occasion, to the people of Leicester and the team including Raj Mann, Kartar Singh, Jas Obhi and Punjab2000.


  1. Reply
    Iqbal Singh says:

    In the atmosphere of religious bigotry, political persecution, Islamic conversion, divisions on account of casteism, continuous oppression, and moral decay, the Sikh faith was commenced by Guru Nanak Dev (1469-1539). His most famous teachings include that there is only one God, no discrimination regardless of caste or gender, divine unity and equality of all humankind. By the time the Guru Nanak died, he had a large following of Sikhs/Hindus and Muslims. Sikhism became the melting pot for Hindus and Muslims. And following his death in 1539, Sikhs/Hindus and Muslims both claimed him as their own prophet and raised mausoleums in his memory at Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib now in Pakistan. Under successive Sikh Gurus, Sikhism kept growing and today it is the youngest and fifth-largest organized faith in the world. His teaching are relevant even today.

    Colonel Iqbal Singh (Retd)
    Author of ”The Quest for the Past: Retracing the History of Seventeenth-Century Sikh Warrior”

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