KALGIDHAR DlWAN MALAYA, a socioreligious body of the Sikhs in Malaya (Malaysia), and an offshoot of Khalsa Diwan Malaya, was first formed in January 1918 as Khalsa Diwan, Sclangor (3″20`N, 101°15`E), by those elements of the Khalsa Diwan Malaya who were dissatisfied with the parent body`s affiliation witli the Chief Khalsa Diwan, Amritsar, and its indifferent attitude to the Komagala Maw`s sufferers. During the annual Sikh conference at Penang (5t`24`N, 100°19`E) in 1919, differences between the two groups became more pronounced on the question of disposal of surplus funds of the Khalsa Diwan Malaya.

While the establishment wanted to remit them to the Chief Khalsa Diwan, the dissidents insisted on their retention in Malaya for educational purposes. The rift was complete with the establishment of the Kalgidhar Diwan Malaya in place of Khalsa Diwan Sclangor. It was registered as a central body of Malay Sikhs on 1 February 1920. Its aims and objectives were the same as those of the parent body, viz. religious, social and educational uplift of the Sikh community.

The activities of the Diwan included pmchdr or preaching of Sikhism, maintenance of gurudwaras and cremation grounds, running of educational institutions, and welfare of orphans and other needy Sikhs. Its preachers cooperated with those of the Khalsa Diwan Malaya in religious service and baptismal ceremonies.On theological points, the Kalgidhar Diwan was nearer to the Panch Khalsa Diwan, Bhasaur. It was against the recital of Rdgmald at the conclusion of the reading of the Guru Granth Sahib. Proper etiquette was insisted upon in holy assemblies.

Rumalds or coverlets for the Guru Granth Sahib with the sketches or pictures of the Gurus printed on them were prohibited. The leadership of the Diwan excluded uninvited persons from their business meetings by issuing identification badges for attendance. Paradoxically, while it disliked the Chief Khalsa Diwan`s progovernment policies in India, the Kalgidhar Diwan solicited tlie British government`s favour in Malaya.It presented scrolls of honour to retiring British officers and its leaders accepted titles and honours such as `Sardar Sahib` and Justice of Peace` awarded by the government.

Cordial relations with the authorities were, of course, not without dividends for tlic community. For example, the Director of Education agreed to encourage Sikh students to maintain unshorn hair and beard; Sikh civil servants and students were allowed any two of three optional holidays Baisakhi and birth anniversaries of Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh; and the government agreed that death in hospital of a Sikh without relations to claim the body would be intimated by the hospital authorities to the nearest Sikh temple, the latter undertaking to perform the last riles and to transmit information to the next of kin in India. In 1924.

jointly with the Khalsa Diwan Malaya, legal permission for the Sikhs to wear kitpan (a small sword as a religious symbol of the Khalsa) was sought; and, although formal permission was not gran fed, no official notice was taken of the Sikhs wearing it. Again, in 1925. at the joint representation of the two Diwans, Sikh weddings under the Anand Marriage Act of India received legal recognition in Malaya. Kalgidhar Diwan took up an educational programme in December 1924, advocating the need for education in Punjabi particularly for girls, in all gimlwdrds.

In 1934, land was purchased near Ipoh (4″35`N, 101″5`E) for a school, and the Guru Kalgidhar School, Ipoli, started functioning on 1 January 1937.Early in the 1920`s a Punjabi newspaper, Khalsa Prakash, had been floated. In 1931, Bachittar Singh Musafir, an immigrant from the Sikh state of Patiala, set up a Punjabi Press under the aegis of the Kalgidhar Diwan and started a Punjabi daily, Pardesi Khalsa Seiiak. It came under the control of the Indian Independence League during the World War II. In 1947 Bachittar Singh retired to his native village in India.

A limited company was formed to run the press and a new paper Malaya Samdchdr replaced Pardesi Khalsa Sevak. The Diwan had been dormant under the Japanese occupation (1942-45), and was again inactive after the declaration of emergency in Malaya in 1948. In 1962, a meeting to revive its activity was summoned in Penang, but several old guard stalwarts having passed away and the effort having received little support from the younger generation, Kalgidhar Diwan Malaya phased out quietly. Mv.S.

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