Taiping’s Punjabi community, friends gather to celebrate historical town’s 150th anniversary

It was a homecoming for long-time Taiping residents and their friends over a weekend filled with joy, nostalgia, and camaraderie in Malaysia’s iconic town in the northern state of Perak.

Organised by the Taiping Sikhs, the series of events served as a ‘bridge to the past’ for over 700 people to rekindle old friendships, and also to be a part of the historical town’s 150th anniversary celebrations.

The ‘Celebrating 150 Years of Taiping’ gathering by the community started with a golf tournament at the Royal Perak Golf Club in Ipoh on June 30, followed by three-day prayers at Gurdwara Sahib Taiping (July 5-7), a hockey tournament, and a high tea reception at the gurdwara – both held on July 6. The highlight of the gathering was a dinner at Dewan Ong Si Thye Guan Tong the following day.

Organising chairman, Datuk Balraaj Singh, said the gathering-cum-reunion was a long time coming.

“Whenever we meet, be it in, or outside Taiping, people always say that they want to come back to Taiping, and often request a gathering to be held,” said Balraaj.

“We took the opportunity to organise it this year, to also coincide with Taiping’s 150th anniversary celebrations.”

Participants of the hockey competition at Gurdwara Sahib Taiping on July 6.

Balraaj said people came back to reminisce their childhood.

“We have people from all backgrounds gathered here tonight, not just the Punjabi community. They have come from all parts of the country, and even travelled from as far as Australia, Brazil, and Canada, to join in the celebrations.

“Close to 70 per cent of those gathered here tonight are from outside Taiping,” he added.

Balraaj said that the gathering was historic and served as a ‘test case’ for a possible yearly event. He, however, added that while the people of Taiping, especially the Punjabi community, were closely connected, the township has become an ageing community.

“Many people have left, and the youngsters continue to leave. Some leave for work, while others travel to neighbouring states to continue their studies.

“But I am delighted to witness the networking in the past few days. Hopefully, we can make this a yearly event,” he added.

Present at the dinner on Sunday were Digital Minister, Gobind Singh Deo, and his wife Sangeeta Kaur Sidhu, Orang Besar Jajahan Larut Matang and Selama, Datuk Seri Wan Mohd Isa Wan Mohd Razali, and Perak Science, Environment and Green Technology committee chairman, Teh Kok Lim.

In his speech, Gobind shared that it was in Taiping that he saw first-hand, the generosity, compassion, and empathy of ordinary Malaysians – sometimes, perfect strangers – who had helped him and his family during some of the most trying and tumultuous times in their lives.

“I was a young boy when my father, the late Karpal Singh, was detained under the ISA (Internal Security Act) in 1987. As a 14-year-old then, I travelled to Taiping to visit my father in Kamunting Prison,” said Gobind.

He paid tribute to the kind-hearted people in the town, namely the late Hari Singh and his wife, Prithipal Kaur who he fondly referred to as ‘Aunty Pali’, who had taken care of him, whenever he travelled to the town to visit his father.

Gobind greeting Prithipal at the event.

Gobind also urged the people of Taiping to embrace digital technology, especially artificial intelligence.

More events will be held in the historical town, in conjunction with the 150th anniversary. The Punjabi community will also be involved in the Taiping Community Parade scheduled on July 13. There will also be a ‘150 Years Unity Ride’ cycling event the next day.

List of winners (golf and hockey)
Gross open
1. Sushil Singh
2. Kishen Kumar
3. Dr Ramesh Singh

Nett Open
1. Dalgit Singh
2. Datuk Thasbir Singh
3. Dr Inderjeet Singh

1. Dr Mehinder Singh
2. Kol (Rtd) Dr Sukhdev Singh
3. Mejit Singh

Balraaj (left) presenting the top prize to the golf seniors category winner, Dr Mehinder.

Champions: Team Captain Dalgit (Group C)
Team list: Dalgit Singh, Manjit Singh, Darshan Singh, Gurnaam Singh, Sanjeev Singh, Balbir Singh, Ramesh Singh, and Gurnaam Singh.

Runners-up: Team Ajit Singh (Group A)
Team list: Ajit Singh, Paramjit Singh, Manraj Singh, Hardip Singh, Keshmahinder Singh, Dalbir Singh, Ranjit Singh, and Hardip Singh.

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