Lights. Lights. Lights. After the horror of last week’s realisation that the Christmas lights are up in Hong Kong before we’ve even seen the back of the first week of November, it’s lights of a different, but equally festive persuasion this time around.
I see the Khalsa Diwan Temple all the time when I’m heading up to Bowen Road for my little run in the Wan Chai hills, and as far as temples go, I reckon this one is as cool as they come – all those lights, all that colour, it makes your regular Sunday morning down the local St Whatever’s look like a drab excuse to catch up on your sleep in comparison.
This week, along with probably every other Sikh temple in the world, the temple is celebrating the birth of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the founder of Sikhism, in one of the most important festivals in the Sikh calendar. Essentially, it’s the Sikh equivalent of Christmas, but without the rabid commercialism. There will be celebratory meals at the temple, as well as hymn singing and the recital of all 1430 pages of the Sikh holy book the Guru Granth Sahib in a non-stop, 48 hour performance known as the Akhand Path.
The celebrations this year fall on the 15th, 16th and 17th of November and are renowned for being especially colourful. Celebrations begin at about 5am on the day of the birth itself with morning hymns and readings from the scriptures. These are followed by a special community lunch held at the temple leading to an evening prayer session lasting until around 2am the following day.
It’s all very festive and community-oriented, with parades also being held in some places to complement the more spiritual stuff. As for the lights, they’ve been brightening the junction of Queen’s Road East and Stubbs Road, and brightening my evenings, for a couple of weeks already. Whether they will still be there when the celebrations are over, I can only hope. But while they last, all we can do is stand back and admire the subtlety of it all, and pray that no one with epilepsy is driving past.