Singapore must not take mutual respect and harmony for granted: Edwin Tong

SINGAPORE – Singapore must not take its mutual respect and harmony for granted, said Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong in a Facebook post on Friday (April 15), as he wished all Sikhs a happy Vesakhi and all Christians a blessed Good Friday.

Vesakhi marks a key event in the establishment of the Sikh religion and identity – the birth of the Khalsa or concept of a Sikh community instituted by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699.

Good Friday commemorates the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ.

“It is truly a unique Singaporean experience that we get to commemorate and celebrate our different religious days and festivals alongside one another, and in this case, on the same day. Respecting each other’s solemnity and sharing in each other’s joy,” said Mr Tong.

“This mutual respect and harmony is something that we must not take for granted, and it is days like today where we are reminded how special it is for Singaporeans to be able to enjoy this precious harmony.”

Mr Tong also shared that he spent his Friday morning attending a Good Friday service at his parish, marked by the Veneration of the Cross.

Christians turned up in numbers for Good Friday services in churches around Singapore, after measures were eased last month to allow more people to attend religious services.

Mr Tong added that he was very honoured to be invited to join Sikh worshippers at Khalsa Dharmak Sabha in celebration of Vesakhi on Friday.

“Was grateful to have been warmly welcomed, and took part in vibrant celebrations, shared a Langar meal at the Gurdwara with the community, and helped with the changing of the Nishan (the Sikh flag), representing the values of the Sikh faith,” he said.

This year’s Vesakhi festivities kicked off last Saturday with the light-up of Geylang Lorong 29 – the home of one of the seven gurdwaras, or Sikh temples, in Singapore.

Vesakhi celebrations will come to a close with a cultural and sporting event at the Singapore Khalsa Association on April 30.

There are about 12,000 Sikhs in Singapore, and Vesakhi celebrations are back in high gear this year after muted celebrations over the past two years amid the Covid-19 pandemic.