These Sikhs are winning Australian hearts

2 JANUARY 2020 I The Victorian Premier has praised a group of devout Sikhs who sacrificed New Year revelry so that they could cook up fresh, warm and healthy meals for bushfire victims.

“These legends from Sikh Volunteers Australia drove up from Melbourne on Monday – and they’ve been serving hot meals to people at the Bairnsdale Oval relief centre ever since,” Daniel Andrews wrote on his social media page earlier today.

Sikh communities are known for their generosity and a readiness to render active assistance.

Gurdwaras, Sikh Temples, run community kitchens called Langars that serve free meals to visitors from all backgrounds. They make no distinctions based on religion, gender or ethnicity as they offer visitors a space to sit down and serve free vegetarian meals.

Sikh Volunteers Australia, based in South Gippsland, regularly serves vegetarian meals to less fortunate members of the community. The organisation “acknowledges Seva as the prized Sikh ideal of selfless activism, an integral part of the Sikh way of life”.

Commenting on Mr Andrews’ post about the Sikh group’s activities at Orbost, Jess Gould wrote, “You folks are legends, to each and everyone of you thank you for what you are doing. People like you make the world a better place.”

A local restaurant in Bairnsdale, Desi Grill, apparently opened up its kitchen to the Sikh Volunteers so that they did not have to return back to Melbourne to cook up fresh food for firefighters and bushfire victims.

“And local restaurant Desi Grill opened up their kitchen to prepare food and keep everyone fed,” Mr Andrews further wrote, “People helping people. That’s what Victoria is all about.”

Mr Andrews’ post about the Sikh men’s selfless gesture has attracted emotional and overwhelming response from local bushfire victims in East Gippsland area as well as from people across Australia. The post attracted 18,000 reactions in a matter of six hours in addition to being shared over 1500 times.

Melbourne resident and a well-known member of the Indian diaspora in Australia, Jasvinder Sidhu, also took to Facebook to note that Sikh groups and volunteers were spreading “message of Guru Nanak by serving those in need”. Guru Nanak was the founder of Sikhism and the first of ten Sikh Gurus.

“There are no words to describe how proud I am of this community,” Pauline Richards MP wrote as she shared Mr Andrews’ post.

Facebook user Eleisha Doherty based her advice to the Prime Minister on the selfless service of the Sikh volunteers, “Thoughtful, kind, aware, generous Australians. Scott Morrison needs to take a leaf out of their book.”

Another Facebook user, Patrice Smith, appeared to know these kind souls pretty well, “Absolutely love our Sikh volunteers. They have a huge presence in the City of Casey and we have lots of love and respect for them. I can see familiar faces from the lynbrook community center in this photo! We love seeing the lovely turbans in our suburb!”

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