Sadh Sangat Jee,

Vaheguru Jee Ka Khalsa.

Vaheguru Jee Kee Fateh.

This year, we will celebrate Vaisakhi with the same faith and fervour as always. But, Vaisakhi this year will not be as usual.

Sikh Council UK recognises the difficulty that the sangat is facing.  All Nagar Kirtans, Divaans and Samagams have been postponed until further notice.

Vaisakhi commemorates the most significant transformation of Sikhi since it’s inception – The creation of the Khalsa at Sri Anandpur Sahib, 1699 A.D.

As Sikhs, we believe our tenth Guru, Sri Guru Gobind Singh Jee blessed the world with the pinnacle of human capability in the form of the Khalsa.

We’re sure every Sikh around the world is thinking about ways to celebrate Vaisakhi in the current circumstance. Many are actively engaged in voluntary work around the globe showcasing the teachings of Sikhi in a practical way.

Several creative initiatives have been circulating in the sangat, including raising handcrafted Nishaan Sahibs outside houses or adorning orange Dastaars/Chunnis (head-coverings) during our daily exercise. Many educational organisations are holding virtual divaans (services) throughout the day, and our media outlets will be live streaming special broadcasts from the Takths and Gurdwaras around the world.

We’ve been looking at our rich and vibrant history of the Khalsa to explore the diverse teachings of Vaisakhi:

  1. Preceding the Vaisakhi of 1721, Bhai Mani Singh Jee, the Head Granthi of Sri Harmandir Sahib, Amritsar, resolved the divide between the Bandai Sikhs and the Tat Khalsa through the Guru’s divine grace and unified the Panth.
  2. During the Sarbat Khalsa of Vaisakhi 1748, Nawab Kapur Singh Jee appointed Sardar Jassa Singh Alhuwalia as the Jathedar (leader) of the Dal Khalsa. Under his strong leadership, the Khalsa was able to achieve many victories. Through the formation of the Dal Khalsa, the two battalions of the Buddha Dal (elders) and Taruna Dal (youth) were able to utilise and direct the energy of the Panth. This ensured continuity of skills in the Panth.
  3. In 1763, the Khalsa was celebrating Vaisakhi at Sri Amritsar Sahib after a series of victories including the liberation of Lahore. A Hindu Brahmin came and pleaded to the Khalsa that the Mughal Governor in Kasur had abducted his daughter. Many Sikh leaders rose to the opportunity, but some were apprehensive due to the risks involved in pursuing another military campaign. History records, the Khalsa performed an Ardhaas, and the decision was reached through the Mukhvaak of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. The campaign was victorious. This shows our success is rooted in the sanctuary of Gur-Shabad (Guru’s Scripture).

Currently, while the nation is in lockdown, unity, leadership and continuity are needed more than ever. As Sikhs, our greatest strength lies in the sanctuary of Gur-shabad.

In our past, we have been unable to congregate and celebrate as usual due to oppressive and tyrannous enemies. But, when circumstances became better, we were motivated to come together as a Panth. Humanity is facing an invisible enemy. Together, through the will of Vaheguru, we will emerge from this period valuing things that we may have taken for granted in the past, for example, darshan of Guru-Ghars, Sangat and Amrit.

Sri Guru Gobind Singh Jee created a ‘free nation’ in the form of the Khalsa Panth. Even if a Sikh is confined – he or she should remain free in mind and spirit. We should take inspiration from our Sikh political prisoners around the world who feel the Guru’s presence even in incarceration.

Sikh Council UK has been busily engaged in co-ordinating our emergency aid efforts in the UK through our newly launched support line. As the largest representative platform for Gurdwaras and Sikh organisations in the nation we ask the sangat for their ongoing support and guidance. Please stay updated through our website on guidance and protocols for the community during COVID 19.


Sukhjeevan Singh Kandola                                        

(Spokesperson, Sikh Council UK)

Email or Whatsapp 07703325038 to share your experiences of being stranded on our social media.

Sunday, 5th April 2020

Still no flights from Amritsar – Sikh Council UK ‘disheartened’ by FCO’s latest announcement.

Sikh Council UK wrote to the Rt. Honourable Dominic Raab MP, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on the 31st March 2020 urging him to bring back British Nationals stranded in India, especially Punjab due to the Coronavirus outbreak.

Secretary General Jatinder Singh made particular reference to the ground reality of the situation:

These British nationals are being put at risk due to the lockdown, stigmatisation and poor health facilities in India. There are also equally-worrying reports of British nationals in these countries facing local hostility.’

Today, the Acting High Commissioner to India, Jan Thompson made announcements for first charter flights from India from Mumbai, Goa and Delhi. We hope all passengers stranded in these areas arrive safely to their homes in the United Kingdom.

We appreciate the complexities and difficulties that the FCO is faced with. However, given that thousands of British Nationals are stranded in Punjab, and there are restrictions on inter-state travel in India we are alarmed no provisions have yet been announced for charter flights from Amritsar.

The reason that many elderly and vulnerable Sikh and Punjabi travelers choose Sri Guru Ram Dass International Airport, Amritsar as their port of arrival is because they are unable to endure the eight-hour car journey from Delhi to Punjab without further negatively impacting their health. This is why the FCO’s announcement this morning lead to disappointment amongst Sikhs in the UK who anxiously await loved ones.

The FCO should also take into account that travellers (especially elderly and vulnerable) may have exhausted their financial resources during these difficult circumstances. Therefore it may not be possible for them to purchase nearly full-priced tickets on charter flights while refunds/reimbursements are still being processed by their original airlines. We suggest concessionary rates are applied for stranded travellers.

We urge the Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Office to prioritise the repatriation of Sikh/Punjabi British Nationals stranded in Punjab from SGRD International Airport, Amritsar (ATQ). Further delay could cause health issues, including the risks to life for the elderly and vulnerable.




Sukhjeevan Singh Kandola                                                                                    

(Spokesperson, Sikh Council UK)

It’s important to know how COVID-19 affects our community. Thats why we’re thankful to The Sikh Network for leading on this initiative. Make sure your local Gurdwara gets a copy of this!

Dear Gurdwara Executives,

We urgently need to collect data on the number of Sikhs that are falling to Covid-19 as numbers are growing very rapidly. No public body in the UK collects any data on the number of Sikh deaths in total or from the Corona Virus Covid-19.

ONS collects data on a weekly basis using records on registration of deaths that record the cause of death but has no Sikh specific information. Usually in the month of March the weekly number of deaths is between 10,000-11.000. On the basis Sikhs are 1% of the population this suggests around 100-110 deaths each week.

ONS data suggests the number of deaths from Covid-19 was 0.05% for the week ending 13 March, this increased to 0.97% for week ending 20 March. The data for the week ending 27 March has not been released but is likely to be around 5% and the data for the week ending 3 April will be around 20%.

Due to this critical data gap, as a community we must again collect our own data ourselves. This will be essential to understand how and where this virus is affecting the Sikh community and importantly the proportionality of Sikhs suffering compared with the UK population.

Can you please provide the data requested in the downloadable form below and return this form to or Whatsapp: 07967 655655

Data Form Covid-19.pdf

Kind regards

The Sikh Network

Sikh Council UK

Sikh Doctors Association

Wednesday, 1st April 2020

Guidance for Funerals and End of Life Care during Corona Virus Pandemic

This guidance has been prepared by the Sikh Council UK to help Gurdwaras, funeral directors and bereaved families during the global Coronavirus Disease (COVID 19) pandemic and is also based on the Governments guidance for the care of deceased with suspected or confirmed coronavirus (COVID – 19)

This guidance aims to explore current and worst-case scenarios for death management in the Sikh Faith. Our objectives are to:

  1. Help end of life patients access pastoral/spiritual care when visitations are restricted
  2. uphold the dignity and respect of the deceased
  3. prevent the further loss of life or transmission of the potentially lethal disease to others
  4. provide solace and closure for the bereaved
  5. find practical solutions for applying the teachings and traditions of the Sikh Faith.

Inpatient/End of Life Care

To help stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), most hospitals have stopped or significantly limited visits. You should check with your local hospital to find out what their advice is. Exceptions can be made on compassionate grounds, including vulnerable patients with dementia or learning disabilities, or patients receiving end-of-life care. If visitation is restricted, then loved ones may still make contact through phone/video-calls if the patient still has the means to do so.

If visiting is not allowed then the patient should be equipped with the means to access Gurbani digitally (via smartphones, portable mp3 players, etc.). If the patient is unable to independently access Gurbani the ward sister or charge nurse should be consulted so that Gurbani can be played near the patient audibly and respectfully. Spiritual/pastoral care can still be provided by chaplains or religious workers, i.e. granthis via phone communication.

While visitation is still allowed, and the patient has mental capacity, it is always a good idea to talk about the end of life care/post-death care with the patient.

For Amritdharis, their Kakaars need to be kept on their person even during hospitalisation and end-of-life. It is important to let staff members know of this requirement, especially when visitation is restricted. If the patient has special dietary needs as part of their rehat for example eating only from Amritdharis or Sarbloh Bibek this should be discussed with hospital staff and arrangements can be made for loved ones to drop-off meals.

Stage 2: Sehaj Paath

After a Sikh individual passes away, it is traditional to begin a Sehaj Paath on the same or following day. In normal circumstances, this would usually happen at the home of the deceased, but it is not uncommon or incorrect for the paath to occur at the Gurdwara. During this period, we strongly suggest that all Sehaj Paaths should be commenced and continued at the Gurdwara Sahib only. This means that the Saroop of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee and Granthi Singhs should not be brought home as they would be in a normal circumstance.  This is for the safety of both the Granthi Singhs and the family.

If the Gurdwara Sahib can provide or arrange a live-stream, then this would be most beneficial. If this is not possible, then we encourage the family of the deceased to simultaneously pray by listening or reading Paath/Kirtan/Katha and Simran at home. A limited amount of individuals can attend the Gurdwara Sahib from the immediate family of the deceased if they wish to for the arambh of the Sehaj Paath if they are well. They may also arrange a set time with the Gurdwara Committee, for a few members to listen to the paath for a limited time at the Gurdwara (observing social distancing). They should not do this if they are self-isolating and especially if they are symptomatic of corona virus i.e. have a cough or temperature.

Sikh Maryada states that the sehaj paath following the death of an individual should be completed in or around ten days. Sometimes, it is not possible to arrange a funeral in this period, so it is possible to hold the bhog of the paath on an earlier or later date to the funeral. Traditionally, funerals would happen on the days following the death and the Paath would carry on in the ten days.

Additionally, during this period, Gurdwaras should request the family to provide information relating to the cause of death. In the event of a Covid 19 death, this will allow the Gurdwara to make suitable arrangements. If the deceased was diagnosed with corona virus, this should be recorded. Once this information is collated, it will help us understand the impact of the disease in our community.


In Punjabi culture, it is common for non-immediate family and friends to visit the home of the deceased to express their grief. During this period, there should be no such activity. Expressions of grief (avsos) should be limited to on-the-phone or postponed.

Ishnaan and Preparing the Body

Official Government guidelines discourage the washing (ishnaan) of a COVID-19 patient that has deceased after suffering from COVID 19 by non-professionals, i.e. family members. Given the very significant risk for vulnerable and extremely vulnerable people who come into contact with the virus, it is strongly advised that they have no contact with the body this includes the elderly (over 65) and otherwise unwell.

There are many Sikh Funeral Directors that may be able to suitably and appropriately prepare the body in the light of Sikh Traditions which may mean that family members do not need to attend. However, it may be possible to arrange with funeral directors to provide appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for a small number of relatives wishing to participate in this.

Funeral and Bhog of Sehaj Paath

Families should limit visitation to immediate family only. If the family is self-isolating, then they should avoid allowing any other visitors. It is essential to maintain a safe distance in this time of at least three steps or 2 metres between individuals. The body should not be unnecessarily touched.

Although some families feel strongly about this, the body of the deceased should not be taken to the Gurdwara. As an alternative, the body of the deceased can be driven past the Gurdwara. However, it should remain closed in the coffin and, it should not leave the hearse (funeral vehicle).

Only young and healthy Granthis should attend the funeral service at the crematorium. Elderly Granthis and those with underlying health problems should follow government advice and self-isolate. No Gurdwara should force Granthis against their wishes to attend the funeral service.

Please take note and adhere to the following government advice:

It is recognised that household members of the deceased person may have already been exposed to the virus during the course of the preceding illness. However, steps should be taken to minimise further exposure, and these should be rigorously applied in cases where individuals who are not part of the household and those at risk of severe illness would otherwise come into contact with the virus.

Those organising a funeral should adhere to the following:

  • restrict the number of mourners who attend so that a safe distance of at least 2 metres (3 steps) can be maintained between individuals
  • only the following should attend:
    1. members of the person’s household
    2. close family members
    3. if the deceased has neither household or family members in attendance, then it is possible for a modest number of friends to attend
  • at no point should mourners mix closer than 2 metres apart from each other
  • mourners should follow the advice on social distancing when travelling to and from the funeral gathering
  • mourners should avoid any direct face-to-face or physical contact, for example, hugging each other unless they are part of the same household, that is, they have already been living in the same house as each other
  • mourners in attendance, should follow the general advice on hand hygiene and preventing the spread of infection:
    • wash your hands more often than usual, for 20 seconds using soap and hot water, particularly after coughing, sneezing and blowing your nose, or after being in public areas where other people are doing so. Use hand sanitiser if that’s all you have access to and wash your hands with soap and hot water as soon as you can
    • to reduce the spread of germs when you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue, or your sleeve (not your hands) if you don’t have a tissue, and throw the tissue away immediately. Then wash your hands or use a hand sanitising gel
  • before and after each service, clean and disinfect the area in which the service has taken place, as well as frequently touched objects and surfaces using your regular cleaning products to reduce the risk of passing the infection on to other people
  • mourners who are unwell with symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), or are part of a household with possible coronavirus (COVID-19) infection, should not attend any gatherings
  • in many situations the household members of the deceased person will be the next of kin; they may be having to self-isolate in line with household guidance. Where the funeral is scheduled to take place before the period of household isolation has been completed (14 days from the first case in that household), there should be no mixing between mourners who are self-isolating and those who are not mourners who are symptomatic should not attend in any circumstance”

Note: In the Sikh Faith the concept of mourning and attending as a mourner is contrary to the principles of Gurmat. Attendees of a Sikh funeral service are addressed as Saadh Sangat. In the above, the term ‘mourners’ has been used generically to refer to attendees by the Government.

Stage 4: Bhog Sehaj Paath/ Antim Ardhaas

The Bhog of the Sehaj Paath and the Antim Ardhaas is allowed, at a Gurdwara Sahib, as per the Governments guidance. We strongly urge only immediate family to attend. The Antim Ardhas can be live streamed so that others that cannot attend are able to participate.

Each Gurdwara should impose an appropriate limit on attendees so that safe distancing (two metres) can be maintained between each sangat member.

We strongly urge a maximum of ten people or less attend any part of the funeral. This includes the crematorium and the Gurdwara Sahib.


Sukhjeevan Singh Kandola

Spokesperson, Sikh Council UK


Sikhs do not need to compromise their faith by removing facial hair in NHS ‘Fit Tests’

It has come to our attention, that due to the Covid-19 pandemic, NHS Trusts around the United Kingdom will be carrying out ‘fit tests’ in which certain medical staff could be asked to remove facial  hair. We understand the scientific and safety basis to this.

Whilst wearing a beard for many non-Sikhs may be due to choice or fashion, it is a pre-requisite to have a beard (and uncut hair) in an Amritdhari (“baptized”) Sikh. In the Sikh religion, assuming the orthodox route in life means you have made a solemn promise (in a formal religious ceremony akin to a wedding) to your Guru to maintain a strict code of conduct, one being uncut hair. This promise cannot be broken and is the overriding priority for a Sikh.

Hence, we are concerned that Sikh staff members (both male and female) being asked to remove their beard or facial hair will be negatively affected by the NHS “Fit Test” as such.

We have been in liaison with the Sikh Doctors Association who have informed us that the use of FFP3 masks is recommended to control the transmission of aerosolised pathogens, primarily as a prevention for the staff member. We understand that these are only effective with a clean seal between mask and face, rendering them ineffective in protecting Sikh healthcare staff with beards. Advice has been sought from the Director of Public Health in Birmingham, Dr Justin Varney, who appreciates the dilemma facing Sikhs.

For Sikhs, their duty of care is intrinsically interlinked with their faith. Therefore, we ask that no Sikh healthcare professional is forcibly made to choose between breaking their faith or breaking their frontline NHS role. Instead, NHS Trusts nationally should present them with the choice of being deployed in other settings, where the FFP3 mask IS NOT required. This will maintain NHS staff numbers, but solve the problem by re-distribution of carer tasks

We continue to be thankful and fully supportive of our NHS. We abide by Government law. We have continuously urged Gurdwaras and Sikh organisations to support the NHS by the provision of meals to hospitals and healthcare staff on duty.For any further clarification please contact Sukhvinder Singh  (07973439227) who is our specialist advisor on issues relating to Equality and Human Rights.

Sikh Council UK advises all Gurdwara Management Committees and the entire Sikh community of the United Kingdom to act in accordance of the directive (sandesh) issued by Sri Akal Takth Sahib.

Sri Akal Takth Sahib is the highest spiritual and temporal authority of the Sikh faith. Today, a directive has been issued by the Jathedar of Sri Akal Takth Sahib: Singh Sahib Giani Harpreet Singh Jee.

We ask that every Gurdwara Management Committee and and every Sikh living in the United Kingdom adheres to the directives of Sri Akal Takth Sahib.

For media purposes and general ease of communication below is a translation of the Sandesh:

“Currently, the entire human race is affected badly by the global pandemic of Corona Virus. Whether the spread of this virus is natural or not, it has lead to a high number of deaths in many nations. While much of the world is living in fear, Sikhs are hoping for the wellness of humanity as per the teachings of Sikh philosophy. For this reason, it is the fundamental duty of the Sikh Nation to help humanity during this dangerous time. For this reason, every Sikh should obey the following edicts:

  1. All Sikh organisations and Gurdwara Management committees should come forward to help those in need. This help may be through food, medical or other essential aid. Sikh organisations and Gurdwara Management Committees should act in accordance of the Sikh teaching of ‘Gareeb Da Mooh, Guru Di Golak’ which teaches us that contributing towards the needy and less privileged is akin to making direct offers to the Guru. Gurdwaras should make full use of their funds for this, especially in helping Sikh students that have travelled abroad for education.

  2. If Gurdwaras have any residential facilities for visitors (such as sarais in India and Pakistan) these should transform into to quarantine zones for Corona Virus patients, should the need arise.

  3. In every country around the world, the advice and guidelines of government and the health department should be fully adhered to. Except for the daily Maryada of the Gurdwara, all large religious events should be postponed temporarily for two weeks.

  4. Every Sikh should stay at home, read Gurbani and perform ardhaas for the well-being of humanity. Every Sikh should practice self-isolation/quarantine.

  5. There is no room for superstition in the Sikh faith. Therefore every Sikh should abstain from superstition and safeguard themselves against rumours and misinformation.

    Servant of the Guru-Panth,
    Harpreet Singh
    (Acting Jathedar, Sri Akal Takth Sahib) (Jathedar Takth Sri Damdama Sahib)”