Earn an honest living. Share what you have with others. Meditate on God. These are the 3 principles of Sikhism.

We recently celebrated Diwali, by attending the Sikh temples at Beeston and Chapeltown, where these principles were being carried out by the community in many ways.

One example of this was at the Langar, the ‘free kitchen’, where people cook voluntarily and serve food free to anyone who enters, regardless of faith, creed or background. It is an important Sikh principle to be proud to serve others for no benefit to themselves and embrace inclusion. The Langar is available in every Sikh temple in the world.

Many people may have seen the fireworks and heard of Diwali, but what are the meanings behind the celebration? Diwali is known as the festival of lights and is celebrated in Hindu, Sikh and Jain religions.

All three celebrate it for different reasons. In the Hindu faith, Diwali signifies light over darkness and goodness over evil. Jains mark the anniversary of their teacher of equality, compassion and tolerance. The significance for Sikhs is to celebrate the religious liberation for all and is known as Bandi Chorr Divas, when in 1619 the 6th Guru secured the release of 52 Hindu princes from wrongful imprisonment.

Today, Diwali holds further significance as a time for reflection and new beginnings, perhaps to pray for one’s own release from the imprisonments of wordly things, such as egotism, pride, peer pressure and morals.

When I see the many lights being lit at the Sikh temples in Leeds by people of all faiths, I feel a light of the mind and a warmth inside that the light of diversity prevails over myopic, narrow minded thinking. Let us hope that our community of Leeds grows positively, where everyone can walk down the street feeling free, comfortable and proud of their faith and background, just as the Gurus did for Sikhs and their community.