Handsworth community celebrates as one family

Hundreds of community members from across Handsworth and the surrounding areas joined together to celebrate Her Majesty the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, a Year of Service and the shaheedi (sacrifice) of the Guru Arjan Dev Ji – the 5th Guru of the Sikhs.

Event partners included Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha (GNNSJ), Birmingham Faith Leaders, Birmingham Council of Faith, WM Faith Forum, the Nishkam Civic Association (NCA), West Midlands Police, Birmingham City Council, Central Mosque, Buddhist Vihara, Religions for Peace, Hindu Council of Birmingham, Nishkam Nursery, Jubilee Debt Campaign, Nishkam Primary and High Schools, Birmingham Churches Together, Soho Traders, Faizul Qur’an Jamia Masjid and of course Job Centre Plus who made the venue available. Organisers celebrated in style by setting up a marquee so that the forecasted rain did not disrupt proceedings.

Hosted on the busySoho Road, the event included personal reflections, stalls and exhibitions, children’s events, free food and a traditional “shabeel” serving refreshment to attendees and those simply passing-by. For some, the highlight was an exclusive showing of art work by Daniel Connell, which gave visitors the opportunity to meet the artist, watch him at work and view his latest collection. The exhibition created opportunities for dialogue and reflection between diverse communities using portraiture.

Birmingham’s faith representatives took to the stage to share their message of peace and tolerance and also give their personal congratulation to Her Majesty the Queen, expressing their gratitude for the freedom, dignity and generosity with which she rules her great diverse nation. The speakers sharing personal reflections included inspirational figures like Moqapi Selassie, Arvinder Jain, Ramona Kauth, Matloob Hussain, Dinesh Chauhan, Sajida Madni, Bill Ozane, Cllr M Hussain and Parmjit Kaur. Each of them gave a clear message of thanks to Her Majesty and also messages of cohesion, unity, peace, love and the welfare of all.

Speaking at the event, Chairman of GNNSJ and the NCA, Bhai Sahib Dr Mohinder Singh said, “Today is significant on many levels, but the key messages are about commitment with an unambiguous sense of duty / Dharam or righteousness. There is a need to uphold values, sacrifice, selfless service and a belief system based on the dignity of others. We need to have a clear understanding of justice, whilst being a role model for others to aspire and emulate.

“All religious traditions and faiths are based on the foundations of compassion, mercy and forgiveness. Justice must be within the context of practising compassion, mercy and forgiveness. These virtues and values cannot be discarded even for a millisecond.”

Bhai Sahib concluded his address to HM the Queen with, “We pray God grants the Queen many more years to reign.”

The Year of Service, a Government sponsored initiative, highlights the voluntary service people of faith carry out in their local communities. It gives each faith community an opportunity to share their faith or a project with the wider population. The Sikh community chose June for Year of Service because it allowed the marking of the shaheedi of Guru Arjan Dev Ji, who lived a life in service to humanity and devotion to God.

Event Organisers were grateful to Cllr Paulette Hamilton and Cllr Waseem Zaffar MBE who joined the celebrations and congratulated all for their commitment and passion. Cllr Mahmood Hussain addressed the community by reflecting on the success of the event. He said, “It was a great event that was very well put together by the partners. I am very pleased to have seen the diversity of people that came out to celebrate with us. The turnout was exceptional. I am sure that HM The Queen must be delighted that her citizens of diverse communities are celebrating her Diamond Jubilee together showing solidarity and social cohesion.”

Cllr Hussain went on to say “I was also very inspired by the fantastic artwork displayed by the Australian Artist who was simply marvellous bringing different people together by his sketches. Through his creativity he is making a great impact across the globe on perceptions of minority groups.”

Cllr Hendrina Quinnen said, “What we have seen today is a great gathering of different communities to celebrate the Jubilee and other faith related events. It’s lovely to get together and share things of common interest and where possible, I feel we need more of these events. I have seen that the understanding of other faiths is important and is the baseline of bringing people together through shared values and responsibilities. The event really demonstrates we can work together and become united through understanding each other’s beliefs.”

The pictures of the day have been shared with the HandsworthCelebrates website. This is a website celebrating the success of events in Handsworth and Lozells to allow people to share stories with all – see www.handsworthcelebrates.com.


Released by: Nishkam Centre

Telephone: 0121 515 4229


Notes for Editors


1. For more information on Daniel Connell and his artwork can be viewed at http://danielconnell.net

2. For more information on the Year of Service, please visit http://ayearofservice.org.uk

3. Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha (GNNSJ) is a multi-faceted, faith based Organisation practising and propagating the Sikh Dharam (faith) in the name of Guru Nanak Dev Ji (1469-1539). It has been involved in selfless intra-faith work inKenyaandIndiainformally since 1950, and formally in theUKsince 1978 as a registered Charity through five centres for excellence in the inner-city depressed area of Handsworth,Birmingham, where its Headquarters are based. GNNSJ also has sister organisations in Leeds and London (UK); as well as in Kericho (Kenya) andDelhi/Amritsar(India). Significant achievements have been made by GNNSJ in the conservation and restoration of historical Sikh shrines.

Chaired by Bhai Sahib Bhai Dr Mohinder Singh, who holds two honorary degrees from the city’s universities, it aims to serve and uplift society through the practice of core values – nishkamta, or the spirit of selflessness, being one of them. Inspired by spirituality, GNNSJ has generated a flourishing culture of volunteering, which has contributed immensely to transform its visionary projects into a reality.

Bhai Sahib was also recently created a knight by the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI in recognition of his dedicated work for Roman Catholic Sikh relations and for his enthusiastic commitment to working for peace among people of all faiths.

4. Nishkam Civic Association (NCA) is the civic arm of GNNSJ and more details can be found at www.nishkammediacentre.com


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