Punjab Research Group

Debate about the right to carry a kirpan

Posted in Articles by Pippa on February 9, 2010

Should religion be an excuse for carrying daggers?

Sikhs should be allowed to carry ceremonial knives in schools and other public places, says Britain’s first Asian judge. But can religion ever justify loopholes in the law, asks philosopher Rebecca Roache.

The idea of children being allowed to carry knives while at school sounds like a red rag to a bull. But that is what Sir Mota Singh QC, Britain’s first Asian judge, who is now retired, says should be allowed. Not any old knife – but the ceremonial dagger known as the Kirpan.

The Kirpan is one of five “articles of faith” which also include Kesh (unshorn hair) and Kara (steel bangle) that are worn by practising Sikhs.

Read full article: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/8506074.stm

Mightier than the kirpanI find it hard to justify knives being allowed in schools – be they Sikh ceremonial symbols or otherwise

Hardeep Singh Kohli The Guardian, Tuesday 9 February 2010

What do you know about Sikhism? The men wear turbans. It comes from the north-west of India. It has at its heart the five “Ks”, the kesh (long hair), kara (steel bangle worn on the right hand), kaacha (undergarment), kanga (comb) and kirpan (a ceremonial dagger); all baptised Sikhs are expected to wear the five “Ks” daily. Sikhs are ­regarded as the best dancers in the world. This is all unequivocally true, especially the last part.

But I’d like to concentrate on the fact that Sikhism is the only world religion that requires devotees to carry a dagger. The function of the kirpan arose from necessity. From the end of the 16th century, as the Moghuls swept through Persia into the peace-loving hinterland of the Hindus, converting them to Islam, Sikhs became defenders of freedom, guardians of religious independence, champions of tolerance; and we were willing to lay down our lives for the cause. In that context it is easy to understand why we needed daggers, which were carried with us at all times since the threat of violence was constant.

Read full article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2010/feb/09/dagger-dilemma-sikhism-kirpan-schools

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Conference: The Hermeneutics of Sikh Music (Raga) and Word (Shabad)

Posted in Conferences by Pippa on December 28, 2009

 21-23 May, 2010, Hofstra University

Is music a language? Is there meaning in music? Perhaps universal meaning – given the popular platitude that music is the only universal language. Or is the meaning in music mediated by culture to such an extent that one is hard put to speak of universals? If the latter then does that imply a cultural limit to the supposed universal nature of the Gurū Granth Sāhib arguably the musical text par excellence? If the Word needs to be translated across linguistic contexts then does Sikh music also require translation into culture-specific and musical idioms to be efficacious? How to interpret and translate musical meaning? Is it even possible?

The purpose of this conference is to bring these two crucial dimensions of Sikh thought and practice, philosophy and aesthetics, together to initiate an academic dialogue between the Word (language, meaning, interpretation) and its performance in Music and Song (rāg/melody, tāl/metric cycle, laya/tempo, bhāv/expression, instruments etc). The conference aims to grapple with a hermeneutics that can cater for both musical evocation (kīrtan) and philosophical contemplation (kathā) as one phenomenon.

Further information: http://www.hofstra.edu/Academics/Colleges/HCLAS/REL/SIKH/sikh_hermeneutics_may2010.html

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Expanding Horizons: Sikh Studies at the Turn of the 21st Century

Posted in Conferences by Pippa on November 10, 2009
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Faith of choice by Amitabh Srivastava

Posted in Articles by Pippa on August 11, 2009

India Today July 23, 2009
It’s a nondescript temple at Halhalia village in Bihar’s Araria district. It doesn’t have an idol; a mound of earth in one corner of the roofless one-room shrine represents Din Bhadri Devi, the local deity. Its walls are bare, but for priest Amlanand Rishidev, there is a more pressing problem than the upkeep of the temple: there is no one to inherit his priesthood. Halhalia village is home to over 100 families of which 28 have converted to Sikhism.

So have about a hundred families in several adjoining villages of the district, including Parwanpur, Godbelsara, Bakhri and Maudhabalia. Amlanand, however, isn’t bitter about the “gradual obliteration of faith”. His only son Nirdosh Singh and his family have also converted to Sikhism. The men sport straggly beards, wear saafas and have kirpans slung across their shoulders. The women still wear saris and on special occasions they slip into the traditional salwar-kurta. Pidgin Punjabi can be heard everywhere, even though the womenfolk have never visited Punjab.


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Tributes to W. Hew McLeod 1932 – 2009

Posted in News/Information by Pippa on August 11, 2009
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W. H. McLeod

Posted in News/Information by Pippa on July 22, 2009
Photo courtesy of Amarjit Chandan

Photo courtesy of Amarjit Chandan


It is with great sadness that we learnt that after a long illness Hew McLeod passed away on Monday 20 July. He was one of the most eminent scholars of Sikhism in the world and though for some he was controversial, no one can deny his phenomenal contribution to Sikh and Punjab Studies. May he finally rest in peace.

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Baba Nanak Remembered by Shafqat Tanvir Mirza

Posted in Articles by Pippa on April 28, 2009

Special Sikh Book Signing at Waterstone’s Canary Wharf

Posted in Events by Pippa on April 20, 2009

The authors of In the Master’s Presence: The Sikhs of Hazoor Sahib will be signing copies and talking about their acclaimed new book on Friday 24th April at Waterstone’s Canary Wharf (Cabot Place East, London E14 4QT) from 12 to 2pm.


Expert swordsman Nidar Singh Nihang and historian Parmjit Singh will be joined by acclaimed photographer Nick Fleming (www.nickfleming.com) who will be sharing his unique experience of living life as a nomadic Sikh warrior in the northern India state of Punjab.


Waterstone’s are offering £10 off the recommended retail price for anybody buying a copy on the day.  

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Banda Singh Bahadur – forthcoming seminar and publication

Posted in Conferences, News/Information by Pippa on April 12, 2009

The Sikh Education Council, UK, is commemorating the tri-centenary of the establishment of the first Khalsa Republic by Baba Banda Singh Bahadur.  We are organising a series of national UK seminars to coincide with the tenure in which we propose to highlight the achievements of Banda Singh.


We are planning to edit and publish a book in the United Kingdom in May 2010, “Perspectives on Banda Singh ‘The Brave’”. This will comprise a series of essays by leading academics worldwide.


If you are interested in making a contribution please contact:


Palbinder Singh, Project Manager, Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Seminars


Sikh Education Council, UK




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A Ritual Slowly Unravels In India By Rama Lakshmi

Posted in Articles by Pippa on April 3, 2009

Alarm Grows as More Sikh Youths Give Up Turbans

Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, March 29, 2009; A11


CHANDIGARH, India — Text messaging with one hand and holding a cup of milky tea in the other, spiky-haired Amandeep Singh Saini, 27, recalled the year-long battle he waged against his traditional Sikh parents to cut his hair.

The act was blasphemous to his father, who tied his long hair in a turban, the most visible marker of Sikh identity.

“I was 14 then. I wanted to jump into the village pool and play in mud. The long hair and the turban were always in the way. It took half an hour to tie the turban every morning,” said Saini, a student pursuing a doctorate in Punjabi literature.

After he cut his hair and discarded the turban, his two brothers followed suit. “My mother wept, my father was angry, but I was stubborn,” he said. “At that age, you don’t think about right and wrong. I look around the campus today, and there are so few turbaned Sikhs.”

Read further: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/28/AR2009032801901.html?referrer=emailarticle

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Journal of Punjab Studies Spring-Fall 2008 Vol 15, Nos. 1&2

Posted in Journal of Punjab Studies by Pippa on January 25, 2009

Table of Contents

Gurinder Singh Mann           Editorial                                                                   


Part I.                                   Guru Gobind Singh: Life and Legacy                  

J.S. Grewal                          Guru Gobind Singh: Life and Mission                       

Indu Banga                           Raj-Khalsa: Ideology and Praxis                               

Reeta Grewal                       Anandpur: The City of Guru Gobind Singh               


Part II.                                  Writings Around 1700                                             

Ami P. Shah                         Liturgical Compositions in the Dasam Granth         

John Stratton Hawley           Shabad Hazare                                                         

Christopher Shackle            Zafarnama                                                                

Ami P. Shah                         Ugradanti and the Rise of the Tisar Panth               

John Stratton Hawley & Gurinder Singh Mann                                                       Mirabai in the Pothi Prem Ambodh                                            


Part III.                                 Additional Reference Materials                            

Gurinder Singh Mann           Sources for the Study of Guru Gobind Singh’s Life and Times  

Gurinder Singh Mann           Facsimiles of Core Compositions in the Earliest Manuscripts of the Dasam Granth  


Further details: http://www.global.ucsb.edu/punjab/jps_vol_15.html

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Musafer – Sikhi is Travelling – A Documentary

Posted in Film, News/Information by Pippa on January 25, 2009


A film by Michael Nijhawan & Khushwant Singh Edited by Celeste Diamos


Musafer is a digital, 4:3 format independent documentary film that has been shot in Frankfurt, Paris, London and San Francisco between 2003 and 2008. The film portrays the interconnected life of a younger generation of diasporic Sikhs by giving emphasis to their artistic expressions and in-depth conversations about the meaning of Sikhi in times of political upheaval and social uncertainty. Musafer does not attempt to portray the Sikh tradition in its multifaceted forms, but instead sheds a light on the inner and outer journeys of particular individuals, their homing desires, as well as their boundary crossing endeavors


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