Archive for the ‘Interfaith’ Category

Nirmal Singh opened a session of the Pennsylvania Senate yesterday. PennLive has an article with details. Here’s the audio, and I quickly transcribed what he said here. I really like what Nirmal Singh put together, check it out!

Join me in the prayer. Ek On Kar, Sat Nam, There is but One God, True is His Name.

We pray, to the One God, Who created this universe, with all its colorful diversity, rang, as we call it
We pray to the One God, under whose Divine Ordinance, Hukam, this Universe abides
We pray to sabna jia ka ik data, the one god who provides for and sustains all this creation
Pray, give us the understanding that this world is a dharamsal, an arena for righteous living –
much of what people can accomplish in life, happens through their own Kal, their endeavor
We pray for kirpa, thy divine mercy, to enable us all to be prayerful, to enable us all to provide for our families,
enable us all to share with those in need, and enable us all not to shy away from doing what is right
that truly is the righteous way

Help us pray help us nurture a society, where we all live as a fraternity, with none feeling excluded or treated as a stranger
Where we say some, and listen some, where we bring harmony peace, caring and sharing to our corporate, communal lives, and help each and every one of us, to grow, develop, and contribute towards a common good.

We pray for this sangat, this assembly, heavy is your responsibility and difficult are the choices you have to make as leaders of the people.
We pray for you individually and collectively to be blessed with the wisdom to conduct your business today and everyday in service of and for the well being of the citizens of this commonwealth.
We close this prayer as always seeking tere bhane sarbat ka bhala — that the well being of one and all in this world be thy will.

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh!

Sikhpulse reports that the Pew Forum’s U.S. Religious Landscape Survey omits Sikhs. I checked it out and sent the following email to feedback@pewforum.org. I encourage you to do the same.

Hi Pew Forum!

I’m very impressed by the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey. Interviewing 35,000+ people is quite a feat.

But I’m suprised to see not even a brief mention of Sikh Americans–the most visible religious minority in America.

Please take a look at this recently released US Department of Justice video titled “On Common Ground” for some detailed info on Sikhs:
http://www.usdoj.gov/crs/video/ocg-video.htm
quotes: “…world’s fifth largest religion…there are over half a million Sikhs in the United States…distinctly separate from Hinduism and Islam”

Is there anything we can do to be included–in an appendix or a revision? It seems that you’ve produced some historic research, and we would love for Sikhs to be part of it–is there anything we can do going forward? What do you recommend?

Thanks for your help!

- Savraj Singh

Separate but Equal in the Gurdwara

So today about 30 people from a local Jewish congregation visited the gurdwara I attend. They were one of the best groups I’ve seen in a long time–lots of detailed questions and insights. One question threw me for a bit of a loop, though.

So you just told me that Sikhism is about 100% gender equality, and I get that, but why do men and women sit separately in the Gurdwara?

So a novice and dismissive answer to this question is, “yeah, it’s separate but equal,” but this ignores the fact that the phrase separate but equal carries a lot of weight in the mind of anyone that’s read about the American Civil Rights movement. In fact, someone in the visiting crowd offered this answer with a chuckle before I even started my response, indicating to me they knew the loaded history of the term. So I didn’t go there.

Instead, I answered with a story I’ve heard that explains the historic origin of the situation: When Guru Nanak was addressing the Sikhs, men would crowd right up to the front, leaving the women to settle for the back of the congregation. Sensing the inherent inequality, Guru Ji said, “Ok, guys, you get this half of the audience, and ladies, you get this half, so everyone has equal access to me.” Now I don’t know how true this story is, but a wise Gursikh told it to me and it does make logical sense.

Another answer I’ve heard but didn’t give this time is that it’s merely a protocol issue. If you start sitting girls next to guys, their minds begin to stray from the kirtan. By keeping genders separate we mitigate the issue. This response is hokey at best, so I didn’t even give it as a secondary explanation. Also of note, Gurdwaras in India are apparently so crowded there are no “sides” to the gurdwara.

My question to you is–do you like my story? Does it have any historical backing or did someone make it up? How would you answer this question?

Video: In God’s Name, CBS Feature

Hey check it out, a sneak preview of a CBS documentary featuring religious leaders of all faiths. United Sikhs was involved in fashioning the Sikh aspects of the video, which include an interview with the jathedar of the Akal Takhat, Singh Sahib Giani Joginder Singh.

IN GOD’S NAME, a CBS primetime special produced in association with the acclaimed French filmmakers Jules and Gedeon Naudet (”9/11″), will explore the complex questions of our time through the intimate thoughts and beliefs of 12 of the world’s most influential spiritual leaders. It will be broadcast Sunday, Dec. 23 (9:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT).

Here’s a “Biblical” justification for why Sikhs wear a turban. I believe this is quoted out of the book, “The Turban and the Sword.” Correct me if I’m wrong. (Someone forwarded it to me, unattributed.)

He put the turban upon his head and set the gold rosette as symbol of holy dedication on the front of the turban as the Lord had commanded him. Moses then took the anointing oil, anointed the Tabernacle, and all that was within it and consecrated it. (Leviticus 8,9)

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December 6, 2007
Contact: Manmohan Singh, Secretary General, World Sikh Council - America Region, 972-684-4638, contact@worldsikhcouncil.org

The Chair of the Interfaith Committee of the World Sikh Council - America Region (WSC-AR), Dr. Tarunjit Singh, has been elected as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions (CPWR).

Rev. Dirk Ficca, Executive Director of CPWR, in a letter dated November 21, stated “Now more than ever, the world needs the wisdom and energy of people of faith, spirit, and good will to be working for peace, justice, and sustainability. We look forward to a partnership with you in making this indispensable contribution possible.”

Dr. Tarunjit Singh remarked, “the idea of forming a World Sikh Council - America Region was proposed by Sikh participants at the 1993 Parliament of World’s Religions in Chicago. I look forward to working with fellow trustees to promote interfaith respect and understanding in a world that is being increasingly polarized along ethnic, religious, nationalistic, and class boundaries.”

Dr. Singh served as the Secretary General of WSC-AR for 2004-2005. He represents WSC-AR on the President’s Council and Steering Committee of Religions for Peace - USA as its Moderator and serves on the Board of Directors of the North American Interfaith Network as its Vice-Chair.

The Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions, formed initially in 1988, was set up to organize a centennial celebration of the 1893 World’s Parliament of Religions in Chicago. The 1893 Parliament is recognized as the occasion of the birth of formal interreligious dialogue worldwide. The mission of the Council is to cultivate harmony among the world’s religious and spiritual communities and foster their engagement with the world and its other guiding institutions in order to achieve a peaceful, just, and sustainable world. The Council has organized the Parliament at Chicago, USA (1993), Cape Town, South Africa (1999), and Barcelona, Spain (2004). The next Parliament will be held December 3-9, 2009 in Melbourne, Australia.

The World Sikh Council - America Region (WSC-AR) is a representative and elected body of Sikh Gurdwaras and institutions in the United States. Its members include 45 Gurdwaras (Sikh places of worship) and other Sikh institutions across the nation. WSC-AR works to promote Sikh interests at the national and international level focusing on issues of advocacy, education, and well-being of humankind.

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  • Earlier this month I had the distinct honor and pleasure of participating in the National Catholic-Sikh Dialogue organized by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and the World Sikh Council. It’s a multi-year effort designed to deepen understanding between the two communities. As one of the ten Sikh participants I gained a great deal of knowledge and reaffirmed a bunch of truths I hold dear. I also made some new, awesome Catholic friends!

    I once again saw that people of faith have a great deal in common, and that interfaith dialogue is itself part of the spiritual practice of being a Sikh. Through dialogue, you learn a great deal about yourself and gain some perspective on your faith. One of the things I appreciated about Catholicism was the discipline that Catholics keep around “orders.” There are many different orders of Catholics — like Franciscans, Dominicans, Paulists, and others. Some orders may be monks and nuns, while others live in the world. But they all seem to get along in a very organized and disciplined way. They all agree to a core set of beliefs and practices, and then they have slight differences in focus. I was impressed by that. I imagine Sikhs would have the same thing–our unifying feature would be the minimum discipline imposed by the Rehat Maryada (5K’s, etc) and then the ‘orders’ could form around different things like kirtan, sewa, and exercise (:)). Sometimes it seems that we need to get along better as Sikhs, and the Catholics who’ve been around for about 2000 years have figured out how to do it.

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    Bible says “Keep a Beard”

    A. J. Jacobs spent a year following every rule in the Bible.  It’s quite an interesting story–but most interesting is that the Bible apparently says you have to keep a beard. He should have talked to some Sikhs about how to keep his beard nice and neat–from the pictures in the article he just let it grow.

    Newsweek - Extreme Makeover

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  • Filed under: Interfaith