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USA Sikh Temple Debates Membership

Discussion in 'Breaking News' started by spnadmin, Sep 1, 2010.

  1. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    San Jose's Sikh gurdwara, or temple, is embroiled in controversy about who should be allowed to vote in the temple’s affairs, reports The Amritsar Times. The temple’s managing committee is elected by the members and the bylaws state that anyone who is over 18, follows the Sikh philosophy and believes in the Sikh holy book, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, can become a member.

    Most people think of Sikhism as a religion whose male members have the last name of Singh, don’t shave their hair or beard and wear turbans. But those are the keshdhari Sikhs. There are also sehajdhari Sikhs, who cut their hair and shave but also believe in the Guru Granth Sahib.

    But how do you tell the sehajdhari Sikhs from non-Sikhs? And should non-Sikhs be able to have a vote in the temple’s affairs? Those are the questions with which the temple’s managing committee are wrestling.

    Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh faith, made it clear he did not belong to only one religious denomination. Many Hindu families in the Punjab, for example, had one son who was Sikh, and non-Sikhs often went to the Sikh temple. That’s what makes today’s debate even more controversial: The idea of banning non-Sikhs/sehajdhari Sikhs from participating in temple affairs runs counter to the founding of the religion.

    Many Sikh temples are now considering a kind of compromise: welcoming people of all faiths and allowing all Sikhs to have a vote in the management of the temple but making it mandatory that executive committee members, such as the president, be the keshdhari Sikhs.

    http://www.baycitizen.org/blogs/pulse-of-the-bay/sikh-temple-debates-membership/
     
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  3. Tejwant Singh

    Tejwant Singh United States
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    This problem is the evolutionary part of Sikhi from all aspects. It shows how The Akaal Takhat is weak as far as Gurmat ideals and their implementations are concerned. It also shows how we as Sikhs, have become the parrots of Gurbani rather than the SIKHS as the name suggests.

    San Jose Gurdwara is a multi million dollar project, so the power of managing the goluck and other donations is a hand scratching enticement.

    Khalsa Credit Union which was founded by my brother in Vancouver BC was the first Sikh bank in North America which grew very fast. It was not established for any personal gains but to serve the Sikh community. This was the first bank which had Punjabi speaking people to help those who could not speak English. After seeing its rapid expansion, all banks now have Punjabi speaking people in BC.

    When it was opened, the only perquisite was that the board of 100 people should be Amritdhari and also should pitch in $10,000.00 each in order to start the business.

    It was not very difficult to establish this kind of business in a place like BC. It expanded into different branches. But this year, some one found the loophole about the legality of the members being only Amrtidharis. The Govt. agreed with those who complained and eventually, it would not be Khalsa Credit Union anymore as it will be gobbled by bigger banks. They may keep the name though so they can attract the Sikhs, but the management could be of any hue,faith or creed.

    So, this is the present situation of Sikhi, especially in the diaspora because of the lack of direction from Amritsar and also no participation from the diaspora in the Sikh affairs that are conducted at Akaal Takhat. Until and unless we have the link, union, understanding and pro active actions as one with the autonomy given to the Gurdwaras based on a unified infrastructure, this is just the lull before the hurricane.


    Tejwant Singh
     
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    #2 Tejwant Singh, Sep 1, 2010
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2010
  4. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    Tejwant ji The story of Khalsa Union reminds me in a way of the story of Bank of America. There too holding onto the ideals of the founders eventually had to be abandoned.

    What was the decision of the courts, or perhaps the banking regulatory bodies based on? I am really curious about that. It is not unusual for immigrant groups to start banks 0-- in fact it is common. I have seen that here a high immigration area with Poles, Ukrainians, Italiians, Koreans and many others. Was religious identity the deciding factor? Or something else.

    Bravo to your brother BTW for continuing the tradition of raising the hopes and realities for people who starting anew in a strange land do need the support of those who come before them.
     
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  5. Tejwant Singh

    Tejwant Singh United States
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    Narayanjot ji,

    Guru Fateh.

    I agree with you that many minorities open banks to serve their communities, however a Korean can be a Buddhist, Christian, a Shinto or anything else, he/she will feel safe and comfy banking at the Korean bank.

    Same thing would be true for any Indian bank e.g Punjab Bank.

    However, as Sikh is defined in very "loose and strict" terms, hence the by laws make things very restrictive.

    The decision was based on that a Sikh does not have to be Amritdhari in order to become its board member and as it is ripe for a takeover, it will just become part of some major bank and only name will remain, which is sad.

    Having said that, it shows how we become victims of our own actions.

    Regards

    Tejwant Singh
     
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