Bendigo’s Sikh community has unveiled a golden Ik Onkar statue at the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion Peace Park.
The symbol, which means ‘God is One’, reflects the first words of Sikhism’s founder Guru Nanak Sahib in the Sikh Holy Scripture.
“It represents the message to all of the community that we believe in the same God,” Bendigo Sikh community leader Sandeep Singh said. “Although we have different paths, we all are the same people.”
The Ik Onkar statue, which is the first of its kind in Australia, has taken five years to develop and construct.
“The Sikh community approached us and said they would like to make the Ik Onkar here in Bendigo,” Great Stupa chair Ian Green said.
“The Great Stupa is a very unique place where all faiths are represented so they wanted to make sure the Sikh faith was represented here as well.”
A statue of a Catholic saint is already displayed in the park, with the two-metre high St Francis of Assisi unveiled in May last year. There will also be an Islamic mosaic and meditation cave, a large Hindu deity from the Hindu Community of Victoria, and a statue from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints unveiled in the coming years.
Mr Green said the focus of the Peace Park was to unite faiths.
“It’s another step forward for the Great Stupa Peace Park because this is where we want many symbols of many different faiths to be,” he said.
“It’s just a perfect demonstration of what we’re trying to achieve at the Great Stupa – to be open to all faiths, to all cultures, to all beings.”
The unveiling of the statue also coincided with the 550th anniversary of the birth of the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak.
Bendigo’s Sikh community also celebrated Guru Nanak’s birth anniversary in a community parade last month.
“We have a number of Sikh people in our community and we had the festival just recently as well, so it’s just lovely,” City of Greater Bendigo mayor Margaret O’Rourke said.
“It’s beautiful what’s unfolding here – every time you visit it’s growing and developing more. It looks fantastic and I think this Peace Park is a real jewel as part of the Great Stupa.”