When Canada's first Multimedia Sikh Museum opens at Ontario Khalsa Darbar in Mississauga Sunday, it will offer clickable passage into more than 500 years of Sikhism - the world's fifth largest religion.
"Yes, it is your one-stop window into the past, present and future of the Sikhs,'' says Surrey, B.C.-based Raghbir Bains, who has spent almost 25 years on the project.
Loaded with 60,000 pages of text and tons of audio, video, animation and graphics, the touch-screen museum is a journey of more than 400 hours.
Mr. Bains, who received the Order of British Columbia in 2005 for his work on cross-cultural understanding, says he believes it is the first digitized museum for any religion - outside of India. It's similar to the museum at Khadoor Sahib built near the Sikhs' holiest city of Amritsar a few years ago, says the Sikh scholar.
"This pentagonal-shaped museum is an interactive tool for everyone ...You have to just walk in and touch any of the four LCD screens,'' Mr. Bains explains.
The new-age museum takes a digital swing through the lives, teachings and sacrifices of Sikh gurus, the code of conduct, and historic Sikh shrines. It also offers interactive games and quizzes and commentaries on the universal message of Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam.
"But more than anything else, this museum is our tribute to Canada and its multiculturalism. This is a country rooted in diversity and respect for every belief. A visit here will help people understand how Sikh philosophy fits in with Canadian multiculturalism. This understanding will help Sikhs integrate better into the Canadian mainstream," Mr. Bain says.
It's not just a feel-good exploration. Sections on the rampant feticide - the killing of unborn girls - and honour killings in the community in India and abroad are almost too shocking to watch.
"I want people shocked into realizing the gravity of this crime against the girl child. Since Indo-Canadians can't do this thing in Canada, they send their women to India to abort girl child. This is a crime against humanity and Sikh tenets. Honour killings are too many to recount and they too fly in the face of Sikh tenets,'' says Mr. Bains who has spoken on these issues, drug abuse and AIDS awareness at seminars worldwide.
Thousands of people are expected to visit the shrine at Dixie and Derry Road for the inauguration, and India-based Sikh spiritual leader Baba Sewa Singh is being flown in to cut the ribbon.
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