Sikh scriptures rescued from Ukraine and taken to National Museum in Derby

Rescued scriptures from Ukraine
Sikh scriptures now safely kept in Derby Credit: ITV News Central

Prayer tablets and scriptures rescued from a temple in Ukraine are now on display at the National Sikh Museum in Derby.

The items were brought to the UK by the charity United Sikhs.

They were helping refugees on the Ukranian-Polish border and feared the revered artefacts would be destroyed by Russian soldiers.

Volunteers took them from the city of Odessa to avoid them being destroyed in Russia's invasion of the country.

Sikh scriptures in Derby Credit: ITV News Central

For Sikhs, scriptures are seen as a living form of the gurus.

United Sikhs volunteer Bhagvir Singh says it was crucial to retrieve the holy scriptures from fear of Russian attacks.

"What made us do the extraction was all the bombing in Mariopul, its close to Odessa, so once we realised there was a lot of scripture in Odessa,and the state of Mariopul, we had to get that sorted'.

The holy items will be kept at the Derby Museum until they can be safely returned.

Bhagvir says one brave volunteer made the journey to rescue the scriptures. He says:

"He hired a car and went out there. Went to the site where he knew there was a Gurdwara in the Ukraine.  He took a suitcase, put fabric in it and got these scriptures out.

He saw a lot of conflict, there is a picture where he is carrying the scriptures on his head and there is fire in the background so its quite a bad situation".

Gurkiran Kaur, Development Officer at the National Sikh Museum says the scriptures are the most important thing to the Sikh faith.

She says "Our 10th Guru, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, gave us the scriptures as our living and eternal guru. 

We place them inside our Gurdwaras, we pray to and read from every day so our scriptures are the most important thing, and thats why we have preserved them here'.

Embedded in the Sikh religion and philosophy is a desire to do good, and help others in crisis or need.

Bhagvir has made three trips to the Polish border with aid for refugees, and says he feels deeply honoured to have seen the holy artefacts being rescued.

He says "For us it's not a choice, it is embedded within our religion and culture, once we see something going on like that, it's another day at the office for us, we got on it and see if we can help.  We know we are sticking to the Sikh identity by helping humanity".

For now the holy scriptures are safe in the Derby Museum, but the hope is that one day they  be returned to the Gurdwara in Ukraine.

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