Honouring Sant Baba Sohan Singh Ji: A celebration of faith, service, and community

Inderjit Singh of Johor Bahru in Malaysia had been married for five years, and longed to be a father. Inderjit visited Gurdwara Sahib Melaka and prayed earnestly for a child.

He repeated his visits each year, never giving up hope. After his third visit, his wife conceived, and now he is the proud father of a bubbly three-year-old boy. Inderjit and his family never fail to return to Melaka each May, to give thanks.

Similarly, Ranjit Kaur of Tampin, Negeri Sembilan, has much to be grateful for. Focusing on her career, she feared she had missed the chance to marry. Approaching 28, she prayed fervently. Within a year, she was engaged to one of the most eligible bachelors in her town. Her family remains forever grateful.

Each year, hundreds and thousands of Sikhs make a pilgrimage to Gurdwara Sahib Melaka during the third weekend of May to honour the late Sant Baba Sohan Singh Ji – a spiritual man who became an influential figure among the Sikh community. Many sought his intercession for various needs: a good job, a promotion, a scholarship, business success, or good health and wellbeing.

Born in Punjab in 1902, Sant Baba Sohan dedicated his life to Sikhism in Malaysia and Singapore. Over the past five decades, he strengthened the faith of Sikhs, creating a spiritual awakening among them. His devotion earned him the title of ‘Sant’ (saint) following his death in 1972.

The philosophy that Sikhs, like Inderjit and Ranjit adhere to, is simple: “If you have time and faith in God, God will have time for you.” This belief has spread far and wide, drawing devotees from Europe, the US, Australia, Thailand, Singapore, and Indonesia to Melaka to seek the saint’s guidance.

During the four-day event to commemorate the 52nd anniversary of Sant Baba Sohan’s death or ‘Barsi’ starting today, Jalan Temenggong will be a hive of activity. Devotees bring offerings such as flour, sugar, ghee, dhal, and sweets, besides money. Tourists and non-Sikhs also visit the gurdwara, donning headscarves as a sign of respect.

Inside the gurdwara, thousands of worshippers keep vigil with the non-stop recital of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (Sikh holy book). After their prayers, many engage in ‘sewa’ (selfless service) by preparing and serving food and drinks, washing dishes, and cleaning the premises. This cooperative spirit, akin to the ‘gotong royong’ concept, thrives without any formal leadership or hired help. Volunteers, regardless of their background, work together harmoniously, taking turns when tired, ensuring there is always someone to carry on the service.

The gurdwara grounds will see a carnival-like atmosphere with a variety of Malaysian food served, such as mee jawa, yau char kwai, and thosai, just to name a few, thanks to generous sponsors. The food served is strictly vegetarian.

The expected record crowd of over 60,000 will be a mini tourism boom to Melaka, with hotels fully booked and the overwhelming presence of Sikhs felt throughout the historical city.

Sant Baba Sohan’s legacy of virtuous living and teaching continues to inspire Sikhs, demonstrating the power of faith and selfless service.