On Sunday morning approximately 30 Sikh protesters from a range of ages came from all over the UK to take part in a demonstration against the management committee of Gurdwara Sahib Leamington Spa.
The protesters came to demonstrate against the committee breaking rulings set by Sikh governing bodies regarding the Anand Karaj ceremony, as well as new revelations about a planned party hall – where meat and alcohol will be served, both of which are forbidden in a Gurdwara – being built on site.
Jagmeet Singh, a volunteer for Sikh educational charity Basics of Sikhi, attended the protest and said, “Today Sikhs are coming together to show that we are not against interfaith marriage, but against Gurdwara committees that treat a religious institution like a business.
“The committee have continually defied rulings of groups such as the Sikh council, the Akal Takht and even the sacred words of our Guru, by selling-off the Anand Karaj ceremony. We want the great British public to know that the issues they might have been reading about in recent weeks come down to just one specific ceremony which is solely intended for Sikhs being sold off by rogue committees. Any couple can come to a Gurdwara to have the legally binding civil-ceremony and can also receive a blessed reading of the holy Sikh scriptures, but the Anand Karaj is for Sikhs only.”
Members of the protest went in at approximately 10am to speak to the Gurdwara to ask the management committee to address them directly but were refused. The Gurdwara management also refused to give the BBC – who were in attendance at the protest – permission to film or record on site. BBC Coventry and Warwickshire and BBC Midlands Today conducted interviews with Jagmeet Singh, who spoke on behalf of the protesters.
The protesters ensured they stayed out of the way of a wedding – which included the Anand Karaj between two Sikhs – which was taking place at the same time.