Auckland: In keeping with the Government of India’s notification to observe Veer Baal Diwas as an annual national event, the Indian High Commission marked the occasion with a special video presentation on its premises in Wellington on December 26.
Veer Baal Diwas commemorates the martyrdom of the sons of Gobind Singh, the 10th Guru of the Sikh pantheon.
The video depicts the martyrdom of the Guru’s two younger sons, who were entombed in a brick enclosure.
Guru Gobind Singh had four sons, Baba Ajit Singh, Baba Jujhar Singh, Baba Zoravar Singh and Baba Fateh Singh, who were martyred in the hands of the Moghul representative of Sarhand (in present-day Haryana) in 1704.
Addressing the gathering, High Commissioner Neeta Bhushan said Veer Baal Diwas was “being celebrated to make each one of us proud of our culture and our heritage.” She noted the Sikh Guru’s sons sacrificed their lives for the country at “a very tender age.”
“In our freedom struggle, many young people have fought for the country and sacrificed their lives. But these [Guru Gobind Singh’s] Sahibzade [sons] have left a huge legacy for the younger generations that followed [to] learn from their bravery,” High Commissioner Bhushan observed.
Tapping into his scholarship, Prof Kirpal Singh, who spoke next, noted that “the recognition of Veer Baal Diwas stems from the dignified resolve of Zoravar Singh (age 9) and Fateh Singh (age 7) against [the] forced conversion to Islam by the Mughal rulers in Sarhand.”
Prof Singh added: “Both [the sons] were imbued with spiritual strength on account of their full faith in God or Waheguru. As a result, they were above worldly temptations.”
The boys were influenced by their upbringing under their father Guru Gobind Singh and grandfather Guru Teg Bahadur, Prof Singh noted.
Up next, Gurpreet Singh Dhillon, representing the Wellington Punjabi Sports and Cultural Club, said the story of the young Sikh martyrs must be incorporated in school curriculums to raise awareness of their role in history.
Dhillon applauded the dedication and spirit of service shown by the high commission staff.
Following the video screening, Prof Kirpal Singh sought to set the historical record straight by informing the audience that there were also Muslim voices raised in support of the boy martyrs and opposed to the fatwa condemning them to death.
Second Secretary Durga Dass, who welcomed the gathering, said the video of the martyrs would be screened in every school, as well as at airports, across India on December 26 each year.
Earlier, he invited noted philosopher Prof Jaysankar Shaw to present a bouquet to High Commissioner Bhushan.