First multimedia Sikh museum opens in Canada
By Gurmukh Singh
Thaindian News, October 11, 2010 by IANS
[South Asian Post, October 14, 2010]
Mississauga, Oct 11 (IANS) Canada became the first country after India to open a unique Multimedia Sikh Museum in the Indian-dominated city of Mississauga on the outskirts of Toronto Sunday.
The museum was opened at Ontario Khalsa Darbar, North Americas biggest Sikh shrine, amid much fanfare by city mayor Hazel McCallion and museum creator Raghbir Bains.
Cutting the ribbon amid shouts of bole so nihal, sat sri akal, 90-year-old McCallion, who is probably the longest serving mayor in the world, said, I am told it is the second such museum outside of India, and I am proud to have it here in this beautiful city of Mississauga.
Bains, who has spent about 25 years in creating the unique museum, said, This is the first multimedia museum for any religion in the world. We have opened two similar museums in Punjab. It is your one-click window into the past, present and future of Sikhism which is the worlds fifth largest religion.
The touch-screen museum is a 400-hour-long journey through 60,000 pages of text and tons of audio, video, animation, graphics and about 1,500 paintings.
It is an interactive minefield on the Sikh religion, culture, ceremonies, music, code of conduct, shrines worldwide, wars, the Sikh Raj, its diaspora, interactive games and quizzes and tools to learn the Punjabi language, etc, etc, said Bains who lives in the Punjabi-dominated Surrey city in British Columbia province which gave its Order of British Columbia award to him for his work on drug abuse, AIDS and domestic violence.
Surprisingly, it also contains chilling portions on the taboo topics of female infanticide and honour killings in the community.
I want to shock people into stopping this crime against girl child. People in Canada still send their women to India to abort girl child. But those who will see these visuals will never do this thing, said Bains who was also given the Order of Khalsa by the Punjab government in 1999.
The pentagonal-shaped museum – spread more than 1,500 sq ft – houses four touch screens and as many TV screens to take visitors on a long digital journey into Sikhism.
The high-tech museum is complemented by 15 paintings of watershed events in Sikh history, with audio captions in French, English and Punjabi explaining their significance.
Museum patronage and Sikh spiritual leader Baba Sewa Singh was specially flown from Punjab for the ceremonies.
There are more than half a million Sikhs in Canada, with most of them concentrated in cities of Surrey and Abbotsford near Vancouver, and Brampton and Mississauga near Toronto.
(Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)