H.E. Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development UAE, attends the 545th Birth Anniversary of Guru Nanak Devji at the GuruNanak Darbar Gurudwara, Jebel Ali, Dubai on 6th November, 2014. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: The soothing cadence of tabla rhythms and hymns echoed in the rotunda as Sikhs assembled at Gurunanak Darbar, the gurudwara in Jebel Ali, on Thursday to celebrate the 545th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, the founder of their faith.

Guru Nanak was born in 1469AD near Lahore.

The birth anniversary of Guru Nanak is celebrated by Sikh communities all over the world. The day’s celebrations begin with early morning processions known as ‘prabhat pheri’. There is also a continuous reading of the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy book.

Attending the ceremony in Jebel Ali as the guest of honour, Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, said “Guru Nanak’s vision still rings true today. He stressed on the human similarities between various religious faiths, always seeking to find common ground between them. His teachings were universal, always promoting inter-cultural dialogue and harmony between faiths. He stood for devotion, compassion and the love of God. The UAE tries to stand by such principles, continuously promoting religious tolerance and inter-cultural communication.”

T.P. Seetharam, India’s Ambassador to the UAE, said that the shrine and the celebrations served as a symbol of respect for human values.

“It is my second time visiting this temple,” he said, “It is a beautiful place of worship and open to all faiths, making it an icon of cross-cultural communication. Guru Nanak’s birthday is a special ceremony because it also highlights the virtuous ways of living and treating fellow human beings. This event and the activities related to it can only lead to a greater understanding between our peoples. It also helps promote relations between the UAE and India.”

Seetharam hailed the importance accorded to religious harmony in the UAE. “We often speak of religious tolerance,” he said. “What we see here in the country is a manifestation of that acceptance. The approach the leaders of the UAE have to governing their country is what truly makes us enjoy and benefit from our stay.”

Chairman of the Gurunanak Darbar, Surender Singh Kandhari, said: “The guru’s teachings were aimed at bridging the differences between faiths. He stressed on helping the poor, on the need for education and on the importance of family values. His teachings are universal and we do our best to abide by them. The temple’s doors are open to all. It does not matter whether a person is Sikh, Christian, Muslim or Hindu as long as they are good. Our temple is open to all faiths, class and creeds.”

Kandhari said that the temple offers food to its visitors on a daily basis. “Over a thousand people come and dine here ever day,” he said. “On Fridays, over 10,000 people eat here. We are expecting over 30,000 people to come to the temple for the anniversary of Guru Nanak’s birth.”