A chhabeel celebration in Union Square, hosted by the Sikh Sangat Society Boston in Somerville on June 20, 2009.

 
 

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Kirtan, or Sikh sacred music, is based primarily upon the Punjabi scriptural hymns found in the Guru Granth Sahib. This audio clip is from a weekly service (diwan) at the Sikh Sangat Society Boston in Somerville, and the three performers are traveling musicians. Repeated twice in the recording is the line thoo kaahae ddolehi praaneeaa thudhh raakhaigaa sirajanehaar: “Why do you waver, O mortal being? The Creator Lord Himself shall protect you.”

The instruments used are the harmonium (a hand-pumped keyboard, similar to an accordion) and the tabla (a pair of drums of differing pitches). For more information on kirtan, particularly among youth in the Boston area, click here.

A monotheistic faith originating in the Punjab region of South Asia, Sikhism dates back to the late fifteenth century, when founder Guru Nanak--the first of the tradition’s ten gurus--preached about the importance of honest work, human equality, and the devotional love of God. Sikhism is currently the world’s fifth-largest religion, and while most Sikhs still reside in South Asia, the Sikh population in the United States has grown considerably since the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act in 1965. In Boston, Sikhs first met as a small study circle in the late 1960s, but the community has expanded dramatically over the past few decades, and continues to grow. Today, there are four established gurdwaras (temples) serving several hundred families in Greater Boston. Read full essay

Spotlight

Gurudwara Guru Nanak Darbar Commemorative Issue

An account of the history of the Sikh community in Boston, this Commemorative Issue was written in 2005 for the one-year anniversary of the opening of the Gurudwara Guru Nanak Darbar in Medford. This report highlights the changing demographics of the Sikh population in Greater Boston, while offering excellent first-hand accounts of the Sikh community in New England.