Sikhs mark martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev Ji by serving free non-alcoholic drinks

In Toronto

THOUSANDS of Canadians were served cool, sweet, non-alcoholic drinks for free this weekend, as Sikhs marked the martyrdom of one of their Gurus for Chabeel Day across the country.

Led by volunteers of the Sikh educational org Basics of Sikhi, events across the country were designed to help break barriers between communities and further an understanding of the Sikh faith. Events were held in Vancouver, Surrey, Bobbie Resenfeld Park in Toronto and the Alex Community Food Centre in Calgary.
Sevadaar (selfless volunteer) of Basics of Sikhi Jasmeen Kaur said of the events, “Sharing a cool drink with someone on a hot day is a great way to build bridges. Chabeel Day allowed us to be able to communicate the beautiful Sikh message of chardi-kala, based on how we remember Guru Arjan Dev Ji. It was especially great to see the Alex Community Food Centre event opened with a First Nation prayer, as it is on their land the event was held. Chabeel Day really helps community cohesion.”

‘Chabeel’ is a Punjabi word referring to a sweet, cool, non-alcoholic drink made up of rose-water syrup, milk and ice. Traditionally in India for hundreds of years Sikhs have offered chabeel to the general public on hot days, especially between May and June, when Sikhs remember the martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev Ji. This is seen as spreading the chardi-kala attitude which is part of Sikh philosophy. Chardi-kala translates as “ever rising spirits” and describes the state of mind a Sikh should always be in.

In Calgary, tea was served as it was a cold day there.

In 1606, Guru Arjan Dev Ji refused to change the Sikh religious scriptures as ordered by the tyrannical Mughal Emperor Jahangir in an effort to curtail the Guru’s growing influence in India. When Guru Arjan Dev Ji refused, he was tortured by being made to sit on a red hot plate while hot sand was poured over him.

Jasveer Singh of the Sikh Press Association, the organisation behind Chabeel Day, said: “Guru Arjan Dev Ji taught Sikhs to accept God’s will as sweet. Therefore, we honour the Guru’s burning by cooling everyone else. This is in line with the Sikh concept of Chardi Kala. In today’s climate, we feel spreading Chardi Kala is more important than ever.”

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