Speaking during a session of the Victorian parliament, Premier Daniel Andrews said that the upcoming celebrations of Guru Nanak's 550th birth anniversary "Is also an occasion to recognise the remarkable contributions of our Sikh communities," before outlining how the state will commemorate the landmark occasion.
Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews has reiterated his commitment that the state would host the biggest celebration for Guru Nanak Dev ji’s 550th anniversary outside of India.
“I’m very confident that this will be the case,” he told SBS Punjabi, adding, “We have the biggest and best Sikh community anywhere in our country, and a lot of attention has gone into this celebration since it’s a significant occasion, 550 years.”
Earlier yesterday, he had made a formal statement on the floor of the Victorian parliament about the upcoming celebrations.
Speaking to SBS Punjabi after addressing the parliament, Mr Andrews said the occasion was of equal importance to the Sikh community as well as the wider Australian community.
“It’s a significant spiritual occasion for the Sikh community and for the rest of us who are not Sikhs, it’s a way for us to say thank you to the Sikh community for the generosity, compassion, kindness and that sense of equality.”
Mr Andrews said, “We should all try and live a life that the Sikh faith has as its core values. A life where we see nothing but good in other people, we try and be compassionate and kind, work hard, be focussed on the community, focussed on your family – they are fantastic lessons for all of us to live our lives by.”
Mr Luckee Kohli of the Australia India Strategy Group said, "It took us months of constant efforts to get this done."
Premier Andrews said that further announcements would be made before November 12, but he wouldn’t be drawn into committing whether this is a one-off celebration to mark the landmark birthday of Guru Nanak or whether this would become an annual celebration.
“Let’s get the 550th celebrations out of the way first. I think it’ll fall onto somebody else to do the 575th or the 600th,” said the Premier with a laugh.
“Let’s make this the biggest celebration we can and let’s say thank in the best way we know how – through a big public event.”
As for his commitment to name a significant landmark after Guru Nanak, Mr Andrews said, “ There’s a bit more work to be done there. I think part of the challenge there is to listen to the community and make sure the Sikh community drives that. I don’t want to have a landmark that is not supported by the Sikh community – we need to make sure that the consultation is done properly on that.”
Mr Andrews said there is something in the core teachings that all Australians should know and aspire to live by.
“I think that everyone should know that Sikhism is about everybody is equal. Those who are less fortunate need to be treated as if they were a member of your own family, whether it be through food and other kindness and compassion. That sense that everyone is equal that’s the core for me."
"All Victorians will be better off if we all had that outlook, if we treated everybody equally and we treated the least fortunate as if they are a member of our own family then this’d be a better state, a better nation and it’d be a better world.”