A Siropa For All

A Siropa signifies an honor bestowed on a individual for their commitment to Sikhi and their long-term dedication.Lately, however,I am witnessing the increasing distribution ofSiropay being “gifted” out based on monetary contribution, or the completion of attendance to an event.Has the true essence ofour Siropa traditiondisappeared?

Amitabh Bachchan caused controversylast Decemberwhen he was given Prashad at the Harmandar Sahib, which included a Siropa. This controversy touched upon the ongoing actions of our Gurdwaras of presenting aSiropa for all the wrong reasons. There was value in this tradition when Guru Angad granted Guru Amar Dasan honor every year. Guru Amar Das treated these gifts as sacred, andcarried them all tiedon his head. So when I witness a wedding couple receive a Siropa at Fremont Gurdwara, simply for being married in front of the Guru Granth Sahib, I am confused. The couple was clearly a couple who was openly not interested in Sikhi, so I was disappointed to see this happen at a Gurdwara whichdraws such a largeSikh community in the Bay Area. This was not the first wedding to happen at this Gurdwara, but it was the first I had witnessed with the giving of Siropay. I wondered, how many Siropay are being given out here each month? I meant to ask the Giani Jiat the Gurdwara why the couple received this honor, but never got the chance. Is thissomething that is happening at other Gurdwaras?

We are losing the value of this tradition if we continue to “gift” these articles of honor. What will be the difference between a person who has been practicing Sikhi witha true hearttheir whole life,and a person who plays a Sikh in a Bollywood movie? What will be the difference between a person who has awoken at Amrit Vela every morningto do their Paath for the past 40 years, and a person who attendedthe Gurdwaraand donated a large sum of money?

Whose responsibility is it to decide whodeserves a Siropa ?It seems to methat our Gurus left us with these traditions so we could followthem, then why are we making our own rules?As a Sangat should we beadding valueto the decisions our Gurdwaras are making?


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23 Responses to “A Siropa For All”

  1. Maestro says:

    I've never seen anyone receive a saropa. It would probably irk me too to see it given so recklessly. It's not only about being given this honor, but how many of people know how to look after the material once it's given to them (Amitabh Bachan isn't exactly going to wear it on his head).

  2. Marine Kaur says:

    We perpetuate this nonsense by when our non-profit organizations, some of which do great work, hold fundraisers and present awards to "leaders" of our community. And the definition of leader is, of course, a successful business person who can donate a large sum of money too. Ugh. We have no standards any more.

  3. Maestro says:

    I’ve never seen anyone receive a saropa. It would probably irk me too to see it given so recklessly. It’s not only about being given this honor, but how many of people know how to look after the material once it’s given to them (Amitabh Bachan isn’t exactly going to wear it on his head).

  4. baingandabhartha says:

    In India, it is a big political (i call it a*$-lickin) show-opposing parties frequently give siropas to make a point, curry favor, ridicule the opposing party etc.

  5. Marine Kaur says:

    We perpetuate this nonsense by when our non-profit organizations, some of which do great work, hold fundraisers and present awards to “leaders” of our community. And the definition of leader is, of course, a successful business person who can donate a large sum of money too. Ugh. We have no standards any more.

  6. baingandabhartha says:

    In India, it is a big political (i call it a*$-lickin) show-opposing parties frequently give siropas to make a point, curry favor, ridicule the opposing party etc.

  7. Harinder says:

    Siropa giving should have strict rules some thing on the lines of

    "NOBEL COMITTEE".

    It should be vetted by a committes appointed by the Local KHALSA community.

    And not more than 1 siropa should be given in a year by any Gurdwara.

    After all we are not holding a copy right over producing 'SAINTS" in society that Siropas can be given to one and any.

    This will prevent dilution of "SIROPA" from a souvenier to a spritual award.

    How about starting a

    "SPIRITUAL SIROPA NOBEL PRIZE "

    for one man in this world each year ?

  8. Harinder says:

    Siropa giving should have strict rules some thing on the lines of
    “NOBEL COMITTEE”.
    It should be vetted by a committes appointed by the Local KHALSA community.
    And not more than 1 siropa should be given in a year by any Gurdwara.
    After all we are not holding a copy right over producing ‘SAINTS” in society that Siropas can be given to one and any.
    This will prevent dilution of “SIROPA” from a souvenier to a spritual award.
    How about starting a
    “SPIRITUAL SIROPA NOBEL PRIZE ”
    for one man in this world each year ?

  9. kprincess says:

    I've seen them giving out saropas to a lot of people at the Fremont gurdwara. Haven't seen them give it out to wedding couples but maybe cuz i don't remember.

    It has bothered me somewhat cuz the people they give it out to often don't even know what's going on.

    But i wonder what the standards would be. So is one only worthy of honor if they pray morning & night? Even if God doesn't abide in their heart & they die by old indian traditions (like caste, sex discrimination & so on).

    And the whole thing about tradition kind of catches me off guard as well. I thought Sikhi didn't believe in meaningless rituals. So would it make sense to restrict the giving of a saropa to a particular number?

    Though i do agree that it should be given merely based on money contributions or social standing. Wedding? I don't know, isn't there still hope that hte couple would accept the honor, some day.

    I also thought they took the saropa back (the actual cloth). but i realize my assumption could be wrong.

  10. Camille says:

    You're right — siropay are given out way too often and under circumstances that make absolutely no sense. Aren't there recommended guidelines for how to handle this? Not saying that everything should be strictly by the rules, but giving a siropa is supposed to be a rarity, not the default. It's not supposed to be like giving someone a bouquet or chai for visiting you.

  11. kprincess says:

    I’ve seen them giving out saropas to a lot of people at the Fremont gurdwara. Haven’t seen them give it out to wedding couples but maybe cuz i don’t remember.

    It has bothered me somewhat cuz the people they give it out to often don’t even know what’s going on.

    But i wonder what the standards would be. So is one only worthy of honor if they pray morning & night? Even if God doesn’t abide in their heart & they die by old indian traditions (like caste, sex discrimination & so on).

    And the whole thing about tradition kind of catches me off guard as well. I thought Sikhi didn’t believe in meaningless rituals. So would it make sense to restrict the giving of a saropa to a particular number?

    Though i do agree that it should be given merely based on money contributions or social standing. Wedding? I don’t know, isn’t there still hope that hte couple would accept the honor, some day.

    I also thought they took the saropa back (the actual cloth). but i realize my assumption could be wrong.

  12. Camille says:

    You’re right — siropay are given out way too often and under circumstances that make absolutely no sense. Aren’t there recommended guidelines for how to handle this? Not saying that everything should be strictly by the rules, but giving a siropa is supposed to be a rarity, not the default. It’s not supposed to be like giving someone a bouquet or chai for visiting you.

  13. KaurBlimey says:

    I'm so glad you wrote about this topic, I went to a very small Gurudwara in Fresno on Saturday and witnessed the Gurudwara secretary give out at least 15 siropay, a couple to children who sang a shabad, a few were presented to parents for "keeping" their children’s kesh and more were given to grown men for keeping their beards. I was also very confused and disappointed that the significance of the siropa is being diluted by such a lack of honor.

  14. KaurBlimey says:

    I’m so glad you wrote about this topic, I went to a very small Gurudwara in Fresno on Saturday and witnessed the Gurudwara secretary give out at least 15 siropay, a couple to children who sang a shabad, a few were presented to parents for “keeping” their childrens kesh and more were given to grown men for keeping their beards. I was also very confused and disappointed that the significance of the siropa is being diluted by such a lack of honor.

  15. Preetam says:

    I definitely agree with the fact that siropa’s are given out way too often. It has become such a frequent occurrence that I’m starting to think we should receive one just for going to the Gurdwara. Since we know this a problem, what does one do about it? If you were to receive one… could you not accept it? Does that mean you are showing a great dishonor? Or like Harinder said create a “noble committee”. Maybe we need to reintroduce the importance and significance of receiving a Siropa.

  16. Preetam says:

    I definitely agree with the fact that siropas are given out way too often. It has become such a frequent occurrence that Im starting to think we should receive one just for going to the Gurdwara. Since we know this a problem, what does one do about it? If you were to receive one could you not accept it? Does that mean you are showing a great dishonor? Or like Harinder said create a noble committee. Maybe we need to reintroduce the importance and significance of receiving a Siropa.

  17. kprincess says:

    Maybe talk to the committee at the Gurdwara that we go to? i've been meaning to talk to the committee about pictures of Guru's being published in the punjabi newspapers, which are often thrown away. I was wondering if anyone has come across it? Another issue is the vast advertising that goes on in the Gurdwara.

  18. kprincess says:

    Maybe talk to the committee at the Gurdwara that we go to? i’ve been meaning to talk to the committee about pictures of Guru’s being published in the punjabi newspapers, which are often thrown away. I was wondering if anyone has come across it? Another issue is the vast advertising that goes on in the Gurdwara.

  19. sikh wedding says:

    […] draws such a large sikh community in the Bay Area. This was not the first wedding to happen …http://thelangarhall.com/archives/218Donald Munro: ART REVIEW: March ArtHop My Beehive colleague Felicia Matlosz and I took some time out […]

  20. […] Ok now that that is done, can I ask a question? What exactly is being honored? Was there something path-breaking? Inspiring? A real service to the community? Did he build a hospital in Punjab? How about start an after school program? Or is this award like those that get saropas for no particular reason? […]

  21. kanwar Singh says:

    I was discussing with my wife little while ago . I wonder what people do with this Saropa once given to them . I have never seen anyone wearing them . How do they they show respect for them . How long they keep them . Can they be passed on to others after washing them ."I wonder"

  22. kanwar Singh says:

    I was discussing with my wife little while ago . I wonder what people do with this Saropa once given to them . I have never seen anyone wearing them . How do they they show respect for them . How long they keep them . Can they be passed on to others after washing them ."I wonder"