i’ma be on the TV, mama

How do you know you’ve made it as a notable community? When Jeopardy! gives you your own category of clues… twice! That’s right, two nights ago my favorite game show featured the category “Punjab.” Because I can only remember three clues, those are the ones I’ll share:

jeopardy.jpg100: After 1947, the territory known as the Punjab was divided between India and this country.

400: This power fought two wars, unsuccessfully, before finally annexing the territory outright in the 1800s.

500: With origins in both Hinduism and Islam, this is the region’s major religion.

Now I’ll be honest, the last clue kind of had me cheesed (although, how nice is it that Sikhi is the “MVP” of the category?). This is one of the most misquoted “facts” that circulates regarding the origins of the Sikh religion — that it is somehow a hybridization of Hinduism and Islam. It’s certainly true that Sikhi developed in the context of at least two major religions, but many argue that it is somehow an extenuation or “compromise” of the two. So, at what level do we nitpick about the terminology used to describe the faith?

That said, there is a universality of messages across faiths. Both Hinduism and Sikhi discuss the value of “seva,” and both believe (broadly) in reincarnation. Meanwhile, Islam and Sikhi both conceptualize the writing of their scriptures as divine revelation, and both are monotheistic (and describe Allah, or Vaheguru, in similar terms). Like Buddhism, there is a belief that one must learn to free herself from the trappings of the material world, and like Christianity, there is a larger message of humanism and love for mankind. Is it really fair, then, to limit Sikhi’s philosophy to a “religion with its origins in Hinduism and Islam”? And, given Sikhi’s egalitarian acceptance of and respect for other faith traditions (or non-existence thereof), is such a battle on phrasing “worth it”?

I’m a bit of a stickler for language. While I’m not the most articulate person, I do feel that framing and terminology have power. I think it’s important to offer a coherent narrative that explains the difference between Sikhi and other faiths while making it clear that a delineation is not a derogation. There is nothing shameful in distinguishing Sikhi from other faith traditions; in this case, it’s an issue of accuracy and understanding.


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10 Responses to “i’ma be on the TV, mama”

  1. bb says:

    Count on Jakara and American-type Sikhs to reduce the definition of langar hall to a chat room. The modern langar hall where everybody gossips is not the ideal, but you are formally branding it as such.

  2. bb says:

    Count on Jakara and American-type Sikhs to reduce the definition of langar hall to a chat room. The modern langar hall where everybody gossips is not the ideal, but you are formally branding it as such.

  3. singh says:

    Dear BB,

    I am sorry if we have offended your notion of what a langar hall is supposed to be. We by no means intend to reduce the concept of pangat, but rather viewed this blog as an attempt to give everyone an equal voice.

    I appreciate your perspective and hope that you will continue to present your views here. Perhaps we can start with – what your view is of what the Gursikh view of a langar hall is supposed to be.

    Bhul Chuk Muaf,

    Daas

  4. singh says:

    Dear BB,

    I am sorry if we have offended your notion of what a langar hall is supposed to be. We by no means intend to reduce the concept of pangat, but rather viewed this blog as an attempt to give everyone an equal voice.

    I appreciate your perspective and hope that you will continue to present your views here. Perhaps we can start with – what your view is of what the Gursikh view of a langar hall is supposed to be.

    Bhul Chuk Muaf,

    Daas

  5. sizzle says:

    Oh bb. I'd tell you to "don't hate, yaar," but I sense you are painfully oblivious to the meaning of the very words and concepts you used in your comment, thereby contributing to your confusion. So, if i may clarify some things for you:

    1. Langar hall: a. a room in a Gurudwara where meals are served by volunteers free of any charge; any and all peoples are welcome.

    b. a place where many American-type Sikhs (See Definition 4) gather, after services and after langar, to meet, mingle, catch up with one another, and most relevantly, respectfully discuss important issues of the day. As many Sikhs' experiences are very unique to the Sikh community, it is often a place of relief and expression, where they may together share perspectives while obtaining strength and a sense of solidarity from one another. This site seems to serve the same purpose, hence the name.

    2. Gossip: a. idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others.

    b. not what anyone is doing here. if any personal affair is discussed, it is to share one's own experience in order to relate it back to a larger point of discussion, which is certainly not idle.

    3. Chat room: a branch of the internet where participants engage in real-time discussions with one another. Chat rooms are typically found on AOL, GChat, AIM, ICQ, etc.

    Let me introduce you to the idea of the webblog, or blog for short.

    Blog: a. A website that displays in chronological order the postings by one or more individuals and usually has links to comments on specific postings.

    b. a web site that provides updated headlines and news articles that are of interest to the readers/participants; also may include related opinions, commentaries and recommendations compiled by the users and readers.

    And finally,

    4. American-type Sikhs: ?

    Not sure what it is to be "American-type." Sounds kind of wimperish, though…striving to be American, but not quite? How about, "American Sikhs." Or if you are going for a more generalized reference, might I suggest, “Western Sikhs?”

    I hope this helps you understand the purpose of this website, which again, is called a blog. Thank you, come again.

  6. sizzle says:

    Oh bb. I’d tell you to “don’t hate, yaar,” but I sense you are painfully oblivious to the meaning of the very words and concepts you used in your comment, thereby contributing to your confusion. So, if i may clarify some things for you:

    1. Langar hall: a. a room in a Gurudwara where meals are served by volunteers free of any charge; any and all peoples are welcome.
    b. a place where many American-type Sikhs (See Definition 4) gather, after services and after langar, to meet, mingle, catch up with one another, and most relevantly, respectfully discuss important issues of the day. As many Sikhs’ experiences are very unique to the Sikh community, it is often a place of relief and expression, where they may together share perspectives while obtaining strength and a sense of solidarity from one another. This site seems to serve the same purpose, hence the name.

    2. Gossip: a. idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others.
    b. not what anyone is doing here. if any personal affair is discussed, it is to share one’s own experience in order to relate it back to a larger point of discussion, which is certainly not idle.

    3. Chat room: a branch of the internet where participants engage in real-time discussions with one another. Chat rooms are typically found on AOL, GChat, AIM, ICQ, etc.

    Let me introduce you to the idea of the webblog, or blog for short.
    Blog: a. A website that displays in chronological order the postings by one or more individuals and usually has links to comments on specific postings.
    b. a web site that provides updated headlines and news articles that are of interest to the readers/participants; also may include related opinions, commentaries and recommendations compiled by the users and readers.

    And finally,

    4. American-type Sikhs: ?
    Not sure what it is to be “American-type.” Sounds kind of wimperish, though…striving to be American, but not quite? How about, “American Sikhs.” Or if you are going for a more generalized reference, might I suggest, Western Sikhs?

    I hope this helps you understand the purpose of this website, which again, is called a blog. Thank you, come again.

  7. P.Singh says:

    Dear bb,

    I'm not sure where you hail from – but if you're a 'Canadian-type' Sikh like me, and are familiar with the growth of the Sikh community in provinces like British Columbia, then you would be aware the gurdwara langar halls served many functions.

    They allowed the small and wide-spread Sikh community an opportunity to 'catch-up' with each other, to pool resources, and rally political support.

    They were also venues where social issues were discussed, which historically included, arguments for and against enlisting to fight in WW2, the fight to be recognized as Canadian citizens, the right to wear turbans in mills, in the police force, etc.

    No doubt about it, bb, 'the langar hall' was a place to discuss the news, the current state of affairs, and other issues impacting individual Sikhs or the Sikh community in general.

    The langar hall was, and is, a forum for free thought, free discussion, and a place, where this discussion has often been the impetus for rallying great public support. The support given to Baltej Singh, in his battle to wear the turban in the RCMP, and that given to Laiber Singh in his deportation case are but two examples.

    Currently, I am assisting a number of Sikh gentlemen on turban-hardhat related employment issues. Take a wild guess where we have often met to discuss legal strategy.

    While it may be that some Sikhs gossip inanely in the langar hall, there are others who simply fill each other in on what is happening in their lives, while others discuss current events, and still others use those discussions as a platform for taking concrete action.

    The religious significance of langar is not lost or diminished because social and political issues are discussed in the langar hall; Piri was not diminished when Guru Maharaj ji decided to gird a second sword to his waist.

    Given the issues/topics being discussed, 'the langar hall' is an excellent name for the website.

  8. P.Singh says:

    Dear bb,

    I’m not sure where you hail from – but if you’re a ‘Canadian-type’ Sikh like me, and are familiar with the growth of the Sikh community in provinces like British Columbia, then you would be aware the gurdwara langar halls served many functions.

    They allowed the small and wide-spread Sikh community an opportunity to ‘catch-up’ with each other, to pool resources, and rally political support.

    They were also venues where social issues were discussed, which historically included, arguments for and against enlisting to fight in WW2, the fight to be recognized as Canadian citizens, the right to wear turbans in mills, in the police force, etc.

    No doubt about it, bb, ‘the langar hall’ was a place to discuss the news, the current state of affairs, and other issues impacting individual Sikhs or the Sikh community in general.

    The langar hall was, and is, a forum for free thought, free discussion, and a place, where this discussion has often been the impetus for rallying great public support. The support given to Baltej Singh, in his battle to wear the turban in the RCMP, and that given to Laiber Singh in his deportation case are but two examples.

    Currently, I am assisting a number of Sikh gentlemen on turban-hardhat related employment issues. Take a wild guess where we have often met to discuss legal strategy.

    While it may be that some Sikhs gossip inanely in the langar hall, there are others who simply fill each other in on what is happening in their lives, while others discuss current events, and still others use those discussions as a platform for taking concrete action.

    The religious significance of langar is not lost or diminished because social and political issues are discussed in the langar hall; Piri was not diminished when Guru Maharaj ji decided to gird a second sword to his waist.

    Given the issues/topics being discussed, ‘the langar hall’ is an excellent name for the website.

  9. […] upon a time, a fellow langa(w)riter commented that you know youve made it as a ‘notable’ community, when you are featured on the […]

  10. Because this is the order of their teachers that they have to speak English every time. So that it is good for their practice. Because not only doing study in English some ones starts speaking it properly.