This Sikh festival (celebrated the weekend following its actual date) is one of the important gurpurbs or anniversaries of the 10 gurus or founders of the religion.
Outline script for assembly leaders
Guru Tegh Bahadur (say: taig b'harder) was worried. The Emperor of India, Aurangzeb, was trying to make the Hindu people of Kashmir become Muslims.
He was forcing them to eat beef, which is forbidden for Hindus. Many Hindus had come to Guru Tegh (1664-75ce; the ninth of the Sikh gurus) seeking help.
"Aurangzeb has said they can become Muslims or they can die," he explained to his son, Gobind Rai. "Many have had their wives and daughters taken from them. Their houses have been burned."
"That is not the Muslim way," said Gobind Rai.
"It's the way of Aurangzeb. The Emperor of India, my son, has lost his senses. Only a great sacrifice can stop his cruelty."
It was Gobind Rai's turn to be worried: "You once wrote, 'If you wish to help, you might have to sacrifice yourself'." Even so, Guru Tegh went to Aurangzeb.
Some weeks later, a brave Sikh, Bhai Jeewan came to Gobind Rai and his mother, distressed by his news. "The Guru tried so hard," he said, blinking back his tears.
"He argued, reasoned with Emperor Aurangzeb that what he was doing was wrong but the Emperor wouldn't listen. He gave Guru Tegh Bahadur a choice.
Become a Muslim. Or die."
"My father would not give up his faith," said Gobind Rai.
"You're right," said Bhai Jeewan. "He was executed there and then."
Later, Gobind Rai was named as the next Guru. He taught that all men and women should be free and equal: "All people are the same, although they may look different. The fair-skinned and the dark; the ugly, the beautiful; the Hindu, the Muslim... All human beings have the same eyes, the same ears, the same body. All human beings are reflections of the one God."
* Create a poster or montage to illustrate Guru Gobind Rai's teaching.
* The Sikh holy book is read aloud in its entirety at each gurpurp.
Organise a complete reading (possibly sponsored) of another holy (or favourite) book.
* There is general information on the Sikh faith at www.sikhnet.com and www.bbc.co.ukreligionreligionssikhismindex.shtml The Sikh Missionary Society UK maintains a large resource centre.
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