An image of a man sitting in front of the Golden Temple
January 20th, 2018 by Sabine Jansen

Following the huge amount of traffic some of our articles have received, it seems like a good time to give a brief introduction and welcome from myself, Sabine, and my colleague Markus and explain our interest in Sikhism!

About US

Many of our readers have asked why two Germans are so interested in Sikh culture. To answer your questions, both Markus and I have been immersed in Asian principles for many years, and we have both focussed our studies on Sikhism.

For me, the culture of Sikhism has always been fascinating and has continued to draw me in over the course of my life. I spent a year travelling India and being fully immersed in the culture and religion of the country, focussing primarily on Sikhism (and a little Hinduism too) and the traditions that surround the religion. Without a doubt, the most memorable experience from my whole year was visiting the Golden Temple – this is something that will stay with me for the rest of my life. Having spent my childhood split between my hometown of Munich in Germany, and boarding school in the UK, my interests now lie particularly with the events in these countries.

Markus has a similar educational background to me, having studied the inner workings of Sikhism for many years.  He has spent many years travelling between the UK (where he has family), India, and Germany and his predominant interest is the politics of religion, which you will find reflected in his articles.

 

An image of a man sitting in front of the Golden Temple

About the Gurdwara Times

The Gurdwara Times was originally founded by Markus in 2009 in a simple print format. As of 2017 we have had a complete revamp of the website and started this new domain.

We aim to provide a variety of articles, reflecting current Sikh news, culture, and history. We realise that some of our articles may spark healthy debate, and as long as all comments are written with good intentions and are not designed to offend, they will be published.

 

If you have any questions for myself or Markus then please do not hesitate to get in touch with us via the Contact page!

 

 

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A bonfire burning in oranges and yellows
January 13th, 2018 by Sabine Jansen

Once again it is the time of the year to celebrate Lohri. This traditional festival is celebrated in January, and is thought by many to have originated from the tale of Dulla Bhatti. In the coming days, Sikh communities (as well as other religions) will be celebrating the winter festival of Lohri across the world.

Traditionally the festival was celebrated on, or around the longest night of the year – the Winter Solstice. Communities would light bonfires to protect themselves from the chill of winter and stay out all night to celebrate the successful harvest of the year. In particular, they would celebrate the harvest of crops such as spinach, mustard, radish, and sesame seeds – all of which are still harvested in the originating region of Punjab.

 

A bonfire burning in oranges and yellows

 

THE STORY OF DULLA BHATTI

In Punjabi tradition and folklore, Dulla Bhatti was responsible for rescuing several innocent girls from the clutches of lecherous men. These stories are preserved in folk poetry that has been passed down for generations, and is sung during the festival of Lohri. The legendary Bhatti is believed to have rescued two Brahmin girls from an evil man who wanted them in his harem. Dulla Bhatti is said to have became their godfather, and is believed to have found good husbands for both girls and attended their weddings on the day of Lohri. The girls were thrown lavish weddings which challenged the authority of the emperor at the time. A popular song sung on Lohri goes as follows:

    “Sundri Mundriye hoe

    Who will save you poor one

    Dulla Bhatti is here for you

    The Dulla married off his daughter.”

 

CELEBRATING LOHRI

 

Despite having originated in the Punjab region of India, today Lohri is celebrated across the world in many different ways. However this winter festival is celebrated, it usually involves a bonfire around which the successful harvestsof the year are celebrated. Food such as rice and popcorn is sometimes thrown into the flames of the bonfire as part of the Lohri celebrations. This originated from the Hindu concept of throwing food into the fire as an offering to the Gods to ensure that the crops for the upcoming year would be blessed.

The festivities are particularly exciting for children of families who are celebrating Lohri. The children are regaled with traditional folklore tales and the adventures of Dulha Bhatti. They often visit neighbours in the area to sing them songs, and ask for gifts of sweets and peanuts. The songs they sing recall the tale of Dulha Bhatti and other folklore stories.

 

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The spires and domes of a Sikh Temple
January 5th, 2018 by Sabine Jansen

The Life and Achievments of Guru Gobind Singh

The eminent tenth Guru would have turned 351 on the 5th of January, which has prompted temples all over the world to celebrate the life and achievements of Guru Gobind Singh. He is most notable for introducing the five Ks into Sikhism. This advancement is now seen as an incredibly important historical aspect of modern day Sikhism. He was also responsible for founding the Khalsa in 1699, which was historically a community of Sikh warriors.

The spires and domes of a Sikh Temple

 

During his life, Guru Gobind Singh faced countless hardships, including the execution of his father when he was only nine years old, and the death of his four sons. Despite hardships, he went on to be one of the most influential leaders in the history of Sikhism, and made choices which have shaped the religion as we know it today. Perhaps his most notable decision, it was Guru Gobind Singh who bequeathed his authority to, and named his eternal successor as Sikhism’s holy scripture: Guru Granth Sahib. The Guru’s visions for Sikhism have long been incorperated into the rituals and practises of the religion and are still remembered today.

 

The Global Celebrations

Celebrations of the great leader went on for days, and all celebrating temples across the globe saw a continuous stream of well-wishers  seeking blessings and joining with the celebrations. Delicious food was prepared, music was played, and stories of the Guru were retold to children and adults alike. Love and respect for the Guru continue to shine among Sikh communities internationally following the celebrations of his birthday, and there is no doubt that they will continue to do so until the festivities next year.

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