Sikh basics and misconceptions .
2 b . Was the Singh Sabha Movement just a front for the British government ?

 

In the mid ninteenth century the Christian missionaries were gaining ground within the Sikhs with the partonage of the British rulers. The Hindus under the Arya Samaj Movement were also making rapid strides into the Punjab. To counter these threats the enlightened section of the sikh community launched from Amritsar a revivalist movement known as the Singh Sabha Movement in 1873 to counter the conversions of of Sikhs. There were two sections one in Lahore and the original in Amritsar. Notable Sikh thinkers included Professor Gurmukh Singh, Bhai Ditt Singh, Bhai Kanh Singh (of Nabha), Sunder Singh and Bhai Vir Singh Ji. With the efforts of these Sikhs the Sikh faith was restored to its original Khalsa tradition and pristine purity. The movement battled against British rule and to think that these Sikhs colluded with the British is untrue.

3. Sikhism is a derivative religion from Islam and Hinduism.

Sikhism originated from the teachings of Guru Nanak Dev Ji. Guru Ji obtained his message direct from the One Timeless Lord and sought to put the masses on to the righteous path towards realisation of God through meditation, sharing the fruits of your honest work and loving your fellow man, it is in no way derivative of any philosophy or religious thought. Guru Ji, on one hand sought to show the people the futility of the Caste system, of idol worship of inequality of the genders so inherent in Hinduism, and on the other, the cruelty of aggressive and forcible conversions and the inhumane treatment of ones fellow man.

 

4. Sikhism was created to defend the downtrodden Hindus and Hinduism.

Sikhism was not created to defend any religious group, Sikhism is a path to realisation of God. Pressure from government sources during the times of the last six Gurus led to the development of a Sikh army for self-defense. A Sikh is taught to stand against injustice from whatever source and to defend the weak and downtrodden, no matter what their religious affiliation. In the armies of Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji and Guru Gobind Singh Ji there were many from a whole spectrum of religious beliefs, from Muslims to Hindus.


5. Sikhs are a martial race, that they are a violent people.

The "martial race" theory is a colonial construct that was created and propagated by the British who recruited large numbers of so called "martial races," the Sikhs, Gurkhas, Rajputs, etc., for service in the British army. Sikhs by and large are a very hard working law abiding group. One of the pointers of a hard working community is the academic achievement of its younger generation. In England, the Sikhs along with the Chinese community are the highest academic achievers after the majority white population.

 

6. What type of names do Sikhs have ?

Most Sikh names apply equally to men and women, the distinguishing feature is 'Singh' after a mans first name and 'Kaur' after a woman's. Traditional Sikh names normally end in the suffix

  - inder , as in Rajinder, Jatinder and Sukhinder.
  - pal , as in Kirnpal, Pritpal and Rajpal.
  - deep , as in Kirndeep, Jasdeep and Mandeep.
  - preet , as in Harpreet, Jaspreet and Sukhpreet.

There are names that do not fall into this pattern, for example - Kushvant, Keertan, Prishant and Bhavanjot.


7. Khalsa means "pure".

The word Khalsa means both "pure" and "belonging only to God". The Khalsa was created by the tenth master, Guru Gobind Singh Ji on Vaisakhi day 1699.When a committed Sikh is initiated he or she becomes a member of a spiritual order called Khalsa. A Khalsa belongs only to God.


8. Sikhs don't eat beef.

Some Sikhs eat any type of meat, some do not eat beef and some believe that Sikhs should not eat ritually slaughtered meat. Sikhs who have been initiated into the order of the Khalsa by the Amrit ceremony are strictly forbidden to eat any type of meat or meat products.


9. Sikhs are allowed to drink alcohol.

The Sikh Code of Conduct states, "A Sikh must not take hemp, opium, liquor, tobacco, or any intoxicant." At the time of initiation, a Sikh vows not to use any intoxicant. Drinking alcohol is forbidden for Sikhs.

 

10. The Sikh kirpan is a weapon. Sikh men hide kirpans in their turbans.

The kirpan is one of the five articles of Sikh faith. It is mandatory for Khalsa to wear the kirpan. The kirpan is a symbol of a Sikhs' commitment to protect the weak and to promote justice. Sikh men DO NOT hide the kirpan in their turban. The kirpan is commonly worn in a cloth holster on the right shoulder under ones clothing.


11. Women are subservient to men.

Sikhism recognizes the complete equality between men and women in all spheres of life. In order that Sikhs would not follow the prevailing system which divided people into immutable castes, the 10th Sikh Guru, Gobind Singh, gave all Sikh women the last name "Kaur" (meaning princess) and all Sikh men the last name "Singh" (meaning lion).

 
It is through woman that order is maintained. Then why call her inferior from whom all great ones are born. Guru Granth Sahib Ji, p 473

 

 

At birth a Sikh girl is immediately “our darling” to her mother and father.
Later, she becomes admired by her brothers and sisters and favoured by her relatives.
On attaining to “ the bloom of youth” she is wedding with costly gifts and presents.
Now, respected by her husbands family and deemed lucky in her new household, she
regarded as the equal of her spouse in both virtue and wisdom.
She becomes as a doorway to salvation. Such is the verbal portrait of a Guru-inspired
And blessed, faithful Sikh woman.
Var Bhai Gurdas Ji(5.16)

12. Sikhs are required to practice yoga. Yoga is an integral part of Sikhism.

Yoga is not an inherent or required Sikh religious practice. Some American followers of Sikhism do practice yoga, which, they believe aids their practice of Sikhism.


13 What is the traditional dress of a Sikh ?

Female.

The traditional dress of a Sikh is Salwaar Kameez - loose fitting top and bottoms - with a chunni (a large rectangular piece of cloth) to cover the head and draped around the shoulders. This traditional dress is also worn by others from the Indian subcontinent. Therefore the most obvious sign of a Sikh is unshorn hair kept in a bun or platt's, the other being the Kara ( the steel bracelet which forms part of the five K's) worn on the left wrist.

Amritdhari Sikhs, those that have been baptised by partaking in the Amrit ceremony and are now part of the brotherhood of the Khalsa, may wear a Kasekee (small turban) also.

Male.

Amritdhari.
Wear full beard and turban and a Kara on the right wrist. Older Sikhs may wear the traditional Kurta Pyjama - Loose fitting white cotton clothing.
Sehajdhari.  
(Slow learners) May wear turban with designer(?) stubble, may not wear turban and are clean shaven or a combination. Most still wear the Kara on their wrist.
Note :
There are certain sections of the 'Asian' community who masquerade as Sikhs by wearing a Kara to deceive Sikh females.

Turban.

African style.
Pointed apex at the front. Style started by those Sikhs living in Kenya and Uganda. Now favoured by the young.
Indian style.
Blunt rounded apex at the front. Style of the Sikhs of India.
Traditional.
A very rounded style altogether. Favoured by orthodox Sikhs and by spiritually enlightened souls.
 

Turban Colour.

White. Favoured by older Sikhs.
Black. Favoured by the younger generation.
Saffron. The traditional colour of the Sikhs.
Red. Normally worn by the groom at the Anand Karaj (wedding) ceremony.
Others No significance.

 

Going to visit a Sikh home?
 

Never take any cigarettes or tobacco to a Sikh house, and never ever ask to smoke. Sikhs are prohibited from smoking and consider smoking as unsociable and dirty. Sikhs are also not allowed to drink alcohol and eat meat, but some do not adhere to these principles. If a Sikh is Amritdhari, then he/she will definitely not consume alcohol, so best not to take a bottle of wine.

When it comes to food Sikhs are very hospitable , so be warned!

If you do not require second helpings of food refuse politely but firmly, but this will generally be ignored and samosa's and onion bhaji's will be piled up on your plate accompanied with "Don't by shy, consider this your home" or "You have hardly started eating, here have some more, and don't by shy."

Asked if you would like to watch an Indian video, politely refuse as you will have to watch the whole three hours. Same applies to wedding videos or else another three hours of your life will be wasted.

Going to the Sikh Gurdwara?

 

The proper name for the Sikh place of worship is the Gurdwara, not temple.
Never enter a Gurdwara if you have consumed alcohol or if you have any cigarettes or tobacco on your person. Before entering the Darbar or main hall shoes and socks must be removed and head covered. Heads can be covered with a hat or material shaped like a handkerchief which is available from the Gurdwara. When approaching Guru Granth Sahib Ji, the holy scriptures, one can bow and place offering of money as a sign of respect then join the Sangat (congregation) seated on the carpeted floor. Most people are not used to sitting cross legged on the floor but be aware that sitting with legs stretched out with feet pointing at the Guru Granth Sahib is disrespectful.

A service at the Gurdwara normally consists of a combination of sermons and singing of shabads (hymns from the Guru Granth Sahib), unless it is a wedding you are attending in which case there is also the Anand Karaj (wedding) ceremony. All ends with the Ardaas, this is a special prayer that is spoken by the Giani (priest) while the Sangat stands with folded hands. This ends with a "Bolay sone hall, sat siri Akal" said by all at the tops of their voices. The blessed pudding of Parsad, is then distributed to all the Sangat who eat with their hands. It is important that no part of the parsad (consisting of floor, semolina, butter, sugar and water) falls on the floor as it has been blessed. It is then off to the dining hall for Langar (blessed lunch). Again it is important that you get only what you intend to eat, as leaving food that is blessed is frowned upon.

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