Sikh Renewal and Identity

The nineteenth century saw the rise of small SikhSikhs call their tradition the “Sikh Panth,” meaning the “community (panth) of the disciples of the Guru.” The tradition reveres a lineage of ten Gurus, beginning with Guru Nanak in the 16th century and coming to a clos. with the death of Guru Gob... reform movements. There were the Nirankaris, who rejected the political vision of the KhalsaGuru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh Guru, created the Khalsa, the “alliance of the pure” in 1699. When a Sikh comes of age or is ready for a greater level of commitment, he or she joins the Khalsa through the special initiation known as “taking amrit.... and emphasized once again the formlessness of the Divine and the anti-ritualism of the early Sikh tradition. The Namdharis advocated simplicity in Sikh ceremony and focused on the recitation of the holy Name, the practice of “Nam.” Toward the end of the century the SinghUpon initiation into the Khalsa, Sikh men assume the name Singh, “Lion.” SabhaSabha is a general term for an assembly, a council, or the hall in which such an assembly meets. Movement promoted both Sikh and western education, establishing the Khalsa College in AmritsarAmritsar is the city in the Punjab in northwest India that is the historical and spiritual center of the Sikh tradition. In 1574 the fourth Sikh Guru, Guru Ram Das, established the town and had the “Lake of Nectar,” Amritsar, dug at its center. The ma... in 1892 and a college for women in Ferozepur in 1894. The Singh Sabha also emphasized the distinctiveness and separateness of Sikh identity. They began to reclaim gurdwarasThe gurdwara, “the gateway of the Guru,” is the place for community gathering and worship in the Sikh tradition. The Guru is the Adi Granth, the sacred scripture of the Sikh tradition. Each center will include a chamber where the Adi Granth is kept, a... from the hands of Hindu administrators called mahants and to remove the Hindu images which had been installed in some of the templesA temple is a house of worship, a sacred space housing the deity or central symbol of the tradition. The Temple in Jerusalem was the holy place of the Jewish people until its destruction by the Romans in 70 CE; now the term “temple” is used by th. Ref....

The movement toward a new, more clearly defined Sikh religious identity culminated in 1925 in the Sikh Gurdwaras Act which placed gurdwaras in the hands of specified Sikh authorities and defined a Sikh as “one who believes in the ten gurus and the Granth Sahib.” In these years, the SikhsSikhs call their tradition the “Sikh Panth,” meaning the “community (panth) of the disciples of the Guru.” The tradition reveres a lineage of ten Gurus, beginning with Guru Nanak in the 16th century and coming to a clos. with the death of Guru Gob... began to standardize a code of individual and communal Sikh conduct and behavior called the Rahit Maryada, which was approved in the 1930s.

In 1947, the partition of India into India and Pakistan cut right through the Punjab, which most Sikhs called home. Some two and a half million Sikhs moved into India from the part of the Punjab that became Pakistan. Prior to the partition, some Sikhs had demanded a separate Sikh state in the Punjab. The voice for Khalistan, a land ruled by the Khalsa, became especially insistent during the 1980s. Sikh tension with the central government escalated in 1984 over the Indian army’s attack of the Golden TempleFrom 1581 to 1603 Guru Arjan, the fifth Sikh Guru, oversaw construction of the Darbar Sahib, the great gurdwara at Amritsar. Darbar Sahib means “Divine Court.” After completion of the present structure in the early 19th century, the gurdwara became po... and thirty-seven additional Sikh shrines across the Punjab on the day commemorating the martyrdom of the fifth guru, Guru Arjan. The Indian government reported that it wanted to flush out separatists who were fortified in one of the buildings in the Golden TempleA temple is a house of worship, a sacred space housing the deity or central symbol of the tradition. The Temple in Jerusalem was the holy place of the Jewish people until its destruction by the Romans in 70 CE; now the term “temple” is used by th. Ref... complex.

Today SikhismSikhs call their tradition the “Sikh Panth,” meaning the “community (panth) of the disciples of the Guru.” The tradition reveres a lineage of ten Gurus, beginning with Guru Nanak in the 16th century and coming to a clos. with the death of Guru Gob... is truly a world religion. There are Sikh communities all over the world—in East Africa and South Africa, Singapore and Hong Kong, London and Los Angeles. Sikhs are, on the whole, eager participants in the life of their new communities and homelands. The Sikh community is regularly involved in interfaith councils and activities. At the same time, Sikhs have a very distinct fellowship and a strong sense of identity that resists assimilationAssimilation refers to the process of “making similar,” a process by which people lose their national, cultural, or even religious identity through absorption in the wider society. In the history of American immigration, it has usually meant the absor... into their host communities. Sikhs are firmly rooted in their faith, but respect other faiths and do not proselytize. Sikhs combine the strength of universal values with pride in a distinctive heritage.


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