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Same Sex Marriage Ceremonies In Gurdwara

vegangoth

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Jul 12, 2009
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This isn't a topic per say on Homosexuality and Sikhism ( as I know there are a ton of discussions on here already) but I'm interested to know if a same sex Sikh couple, who are in a committed and faithful relationship can get married in a Gurdwara? Apologies if there is a thread on this already, I must have missed it.
 
Jan 7, 2005
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Previous postings on the topic:

http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/sikh-news/25742-sikh-leader-india-no-gay-marriage.html

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WWW.SARBAT.NET - Sikh Views on
Same Sex
Relationships


Sikh Dharma is a philosophy which believes in
equality and acceptance for all, and Guru Gobind
Singh, the Tenth Guru, declared that “The whole
of mankind should be viewed as one”.

The Guru Granth Sahib does not mention homosexuality.
However, the ten living Gurus were
aware of homosexuality at the time that the Guru
Granth Sahib was compiled as there were a number
of openly gay saints during the 16th and 17th
Centuries in the Indian Subcontinent.

One openly gay saint is Sarmad, who was a follower
of Mian Mir, the Muslim Pir who is believed
to have laid the foundation stone of the Harimandir
Sahib (Golden Temple), the most important
of Sikh gurdwaras, in 1588.

If the ten living Gurus believed homosexuality to
be sinful, then they would have addressed the
subject within the Guru Granth Sahib, and the fact
that it has been ignored suggests that the Gurus
considered it to be inconsequential because the
primary function of dharma is to unite the individual
soul which is genderless with the supreme soul
which is also genderless.

The Lavaan are non-gender specific, and so samesex
marriage is possible within Sikh Dharma.

However, most gurdwaras in the current time (Sikh
places of worship) would be reluctant to conduct a
same-sex marriage because of an edict made by
the Jathedar (Head Priest) of the Akal Takht in
2005 which banned gay marriages. It should be
noted that Sikh Dharma as a philosophy does not
support a priesthood system, and many such
edicts have been ignored by the Sikh community
as a whole such as eating on floors vs eating on
tables.


Sikh Dharma Vs Indian Culture

Although Sikh philosophy is a liberal and all encompassing,
Punjabi and Indian culture is extremely
conservative. This can lead to instances
where some Sikhs hold conservative views which
stem from Punjabi culture but which the individual
may believe to be a part of Sikh philosophy.

An area where this disparity is evident is that of
sexuality, with Punjabi culture being very homophobic
whilst Sikh philosophy teaching the idea of
oneness, respect and tolerance of all people.

Gristhi Jeevan, or living the life of a householder,
applies equally to same-sex relationships as it
does to heterosexual relationships. There are no
barriers to maintaining a family lifestyle within a
same-sex relationship, for example, by adopting
children.

It is possible to be Sikh and have a monogamous
same-sex relationship, as long as one ensures
that the relationship does not become filled with
‘Kaam’ and one maintains a Sikh lifestyle in accordance
with all of the various tenets of the religion.

Although marriage is the ideal, it may not be
possible to get married due to the reluctance of
the gurdwara, and so a monogamous relationship
is to be preferred as an alternative.

source: http://www.sarbat.net/sikhism_and_same_sex_relationships.pdf

WWW.SARBAT.NET

Sarbat.Net is the website for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual
and Transgendered Sikhs.
Established in 2007, it takes its name from the final
line of the Ardas (the congretional Prayer of
Supplication), and it refers to the Sikh concept of
happiness and well-being for all mankind
 

Kanwaljit.Singh

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Jan 29, 2011
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If the ten living Gurus believed homosexuality to
be sinful, then they would have addressed the
subject within the Guru Granth Sahib
If Gurus can get widows remarried, they would have surely helped people of the same sex. Just my two cents.

I am not against homosexuality (as of course nothing is in my hands!) and approve of civil ceremony for their matrimony. But taking part in Anand Karaj is too much. It is asking for something without meeting the primary criteria.. of husband and wife.

As for the website sarbat.net, I don't approve of it much. For they are some 'modern' Sikhs who just happen to be together because of their homosexuality. They are LGBT by choice (and birth) but Sikhs by birth only.
 

Ishna

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Kanwaljit ji, may I respectfully ask how a person is Sikh by birth but possibly not LGBT by birth?

My understanding was that you're Sikh my your own good fortune and Sikhs are self-made (that is, you the individual puts in the effort to be Sikh but with Waheguru's kirpa), not made by birth, lineage, caste, custom, society, etc.

From my understanding a LGBT person is usually born that way, they don't have the same impulses that "straight" people do.

So I would respectully disagree and say that people choose to be Sikh and are born LGBT/straight, rather than the other way around.

Of course this is all in the context of hukam, so the technicalities are really moot.


This is my third attempt at writing a response to the initial question, and really, the issue is much bigger than just the question 'can same-gender people be married in a Gurdwara'. It comes right back to the individual Sikh mindset before we even come close to answering the question.
 
Last edited:

Kanwaljit.Singh

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I have not missed the point that LGBT person is born that way:

They are LGBT by choice (and birth) but Sikhs by birth only.
What I am saying is that most of the LGBT Sikhs (I feel) are more concerned about their sexuality, and call themselves Sikhs just because they are from Sikh family.
 

vegangoth

SPNer
Jul 12, 2009
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Ha! That link just showed me that I commented on the very same subject a while back, guess my memory is worse that I thought lol.
 

Harry Haller

Panga Master
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Jan 31, 2011
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Sorry excuse my ignorance, what is LGBT, and for that matter what is SPGC, are they related in any way?
 

Ishna

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Kanwaljit ji, I think I misunderstood the sentence. I read it as 'everyone can be LBGT by choice but Sikhs only by birth', whereas I think you meant to apply the statement to LGBT people only, and with your clarifying statement I see what you mean.

I haven't had much to do with the LGBT Sikh community so I don't know much about how they feel about their Sikhi in relation to their LGBT and their life experiences with what came first, their Sikhi or their sexuality. I can say that my personal experiences with other LGBT people (non-Sikh) have given me the impression that their sexuality comes first in their lives, not their spirituality. Then again I meet a lot of straight people who put their sexuality first too!!!

Harry ji, LGBT stands for 'lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered'. SGPC stands for Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee.

A statutory body comprising elected representatives of the Sikhs concerned primarily with the management of sacred Sikh shrines under its control within the territorial limits of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and the Union territory of Chandigarh.
http://www.sikhiwiki.org/index.php/SGPC

It would be funny if they were related!! hahahaha
 

Randip Singh

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Pfft.

What's the problem?

I really see no problem. Anand Karaj wedding ceremony is about the Union of two souls. The soul has no gender, so does the outer shell really matter?


I am sure if the Guru's had a real objection to Gay people they would have denounced them. They didn't hence no problem.

It must be noted that the problem with Homosexuality only started when the British came in with their christian values.
 

Ishna

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I would imagine the Muslims also have doctrines against homosexuality, and it would be interesting to see what impact they had on the homosexual people in India prior to the arrival of the British.

I say imagine because I have no idea of the facts and will look into it. I could be wrong.
 

Ishna

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Appealing to the government not to be influenced by the "decadent trends of the Western culture" and not to give in to the demands of a minuscule minority, the statement said the government should not test the patience of the silent vast majority of the country which abhors such behaviour.
http://www.wikiislam.net/wiki/Persecution_of_Homosexuals_(India)

poor Brits, they're copping it both ways! lol On one hand Randip ji says homosexuality wasn't an issue in India until the British came along, on the other the source quoted says it's their bad influence ENCOURAGING homosexuality in India!

At any rate, it's probably off topic.
 

spnadmin

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There is significant historical evidence to support Randip's perspective. Of course homosexuality existed in the history of Punjab. Homosexuals had culturally defined roles within the social structure of India. Thus there were places where they fit in. Everyone knew who was gay in the pind. Little was made of it. The issue only boomed into controversy during the raj.
 

Ambarsaria

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I would imagine the Muslims also have doctrines against homosexuality, and it would be interesting to see what impact they had on the homosexual people in India prior to the arrival of the British.

I say imagine because I have no idea of the facts and will look into it. I could be wrong.
Ishna ji excerpted below some from a nice article but not checked for authenticity of sources quoted by the writer,

http://www.missionislam.com/knowledge/homosexuality.htm

The Qur'an and Homosexuality:
There are five references in the Qur'an which have been cited as referring to gay and lesbian behavior. Some obviously deal with effeminate men and "masculine women." The two main references to homosexual behavior are:

"We also sent Lut : He said to his people : "Do ye commit lewdness such as no people in creation (ever) committed before you? For ye practice your lusts on men in preference to women: ye are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds." Qur'an 7:80-81

"What! Of all creatures do ye come unto the males, and leave the wives your Lord created for you? Nay, but ye are forward folk." Qur'an 26:165

Both references relate to gay sexual activities; lesbian practices are not mentioned in the Qur'an.
Lut is referred to as "Lot" in the Hebrew Scriptures. This passage is an apparent reference to the activities at Sodom and Gamorah. It seems to imply that there was no homosexual behavior before it first appeared in Sodom. This is a uniquely Islamic concept; it does not appear in Jewish or Christian beliefs. The passage also links the sin of Sodom (the reason for its destruction) to homosexuality.That linkage is contradicted by other verses in the Hebrew Scriptures.
The Hadith and homosexuality: The Hadith are collections of sayings attributed to Muhammad. Many Hadiths (ahadith) discuss liwat (sexual intercourse between males). Two examples are:

"When a man mounts another man, the throne of God shakes."

"Kill the one that is doing it and also kill the one that it is being done to." (in reference to the active and passive partners in gay sexual intercourse)

There is at least one mention of lesbian behavior mentioned in the Hadith: "Sihaq (lesbian sexual activity) of women is zina (illegitimate sexual intercourse) among them."

Traditionalist orthodox Muslims generally claim that the Hadith literature contains the authentic sayings of Muhammad. Many liberal Muslims doubt their authenticity. The latter might point out that during the times of the first Caliphs, Muslims did not know what to do with individuals guilty of "liwat/lutiyya". No sahabi (companion) of Muhammad could quote a saying or decision of Muhammad relating to this question.



SODOMY AND LESBIANISM
In more than one place in the Holy Koran, Allah recounts to us the story of Lot's people, and how He destroyed them for their wicked practice. There is consensus among both Muslims and the followers of all other religions that sodomy is an enormity. It is even viler and uglier than adultery.

Allah Most High says: "Do you approach the males of humanity, leaving the wives that Allah has created for you? But you are a people who transgress" Koran (26:165-66)

(1) The Prophet (saws) said: (1) "Kill the one who sodomizes and the one who lets if be done to him." (Tirmidhi, a sahih (authentic) hadith)

(2) "May Allah curse him who does that Lot's people did." (Ibn Hibban, sahih (authentic))

(3) "Lesbianism by women is adultery between them." (Tabarani, sahih)"

Taken from the Reliance of the Traveller, transltaed by Nuh Ha Mim Keller, p 664-665.
There are a lot more Hadiths on the issue, and the issue of what is to be done with one who commits sodomy or lesbianism. I will not deal with these now in this post. All I wanted to do was to show that the position of Islam on this issue is that it is an enormity (kaba'ir), and therefore, forbidden, (haram). May Allah (The Exalted) protect us.

The Islamic Society of North America:
Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi of the ISNA said: "Homosexuality is a moral disorder. It is a moral disease, a sin and corruption... No person is born homosexual, just like no one is born a thief, a liar or murderer. People acquire these evil habits due to a lack of proper guidance and education.""
"There are many reasons why it is forbidden in Islam. Homosexuality is dangerous for the health of the individuals and for the society. It is a main cause of one of the most harmful and fatal diseases. It is disgraceful for both men and women. It degrades a person. Islam teaches that men should be men and women should be women. Homosexuality deprives a man of his manhood and a woman of her womanhood. It is the most un-natural way of life. Homosexuality leads to the destruction of family life."
Quite revealing in the following,

Treatment of homosexuals within Islam:
According to a pamphlet produced by Al-Fatiha, there is a consensus among Islamic scholars that all humans are naturally heterosexual. 5 Homosexuality is seen by scholars to be a sinful and perverted deviation from the norm. All Islamic schools of thought and jurisprudence consider gay acts to be unlawful. They differ in terms of penalty:

The Hanafite school (currently seen mainly in South and Eastern Asia) teaches that no physical punishment is warranted.

The Hanabalites, (widely followed in the Arab world) teach that severe punishment is warranted.

The Sha'fi school of thought (also seen in the Arab world) requires a minimum of 4 adult male witnesses before a person can be found guilty of a homosexual act. Al-Fatiha estimates that 4,000 homosexuals have been executed in Iran since their revolution in 1979. 10 public executions of homosexuals have been performed in Afghanistan by the Taliban army.
Just a perspective to philosophize via comparisons.

Sat Sri Akal.
 

findingmyway

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Gurbani talks about the evils of lust and does not discuss sexuality so personally I do not have a problem with gay marriage in Gurdwara as long as the couple agree to follow Sikh principles. However, until the ruling by the Akal Takht is reversed, it cannot be practiced in Gurdwara. Oneday....
 

Ishna

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What were the circumstances around the Akal Takht making that decision? Why do they see anything wrong with it?

And just to clarify, my reaction to Randip ji's British comment was such because I thought the comment was flippant since i lack the background knowledge that all was well with Indian gays before they came along.
 

Ambarsaria

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Kanwaljit Singh ji it appears America just has a knack to get involved in controversies. Expect a Pakistan Taliban retaliation in the time to come. When is USA going to get involved in the first "true democracy celebration in Pakistan" or is it not part of their strategic plan! lol

Sat Sri Akal and thanks for the post.
 

Ambarsaria

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What were the circumstances around the Akal Takht making that decision? Why do they see anything wrong with it?

And just to clarify, my reaction to Randip ji's British comment was such because I thought the comment was flippant since i lack the background knowledge that all was well with Indian gays before they came along.
Ishna ji I believe spnadmin ji took some liberties about gays in Pinds (villages) being happy as a pig in muck. Almost all gays have been focus of jokes and ridicule but not much violence. Villagers perhaps appreciated gays as there would be less danger for their girls, a concern of family respect and dignity in traditional villages. Furthermore gays were always and almost 100% from non dominant families and lower classes (I know it is against Sikhi but I don't know how to classify it otherwise to describe the situation). Gays were also forced to or choose to act docile in local environments and hence less visibility. The gay characters in Indian cinema were butt of jokes or funnies and filler segments.

Intersex people were quite common in villages as street performers. They will come to a house which had an auspicious occasion (birth of a child, wedding, etc.) and sing/dance provocatively. They will threaten to expose their privates if the home owners wouldn't amply reward them. This was just an empty threat just to get the kids excited and I never saw it materialize even once .

Hope it clarifies.

Sat Sri Akal.
 

spnadmin

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Ambarsaria ji

I never said any of this. Where did I even imply "happy as a pig in muck?"

Ishna ji I believe spnadmin ji took some liberties about gays in Pinds (villages) being happy as a pig in muck.
Of course the activities of gays in Punjab were governed by strict cultural norms...just like the lives of everyone else btw who lived in traditional Punjab. No liberties were taken by me. It is the case that gays had less visibility. Quite true.

However, at weddings they were often called to entertain, and they did so on the outskirts of villages, in special areas. Women did not attend. That would be one example of a cultural prescribed role.

You can evaluate my comments by reading the book: East of Indus, My Memories of Old Punjab, by Gurnam S. Brard. He tells the story of his childhood before and after partition, with many cultural references to historical periods, often as far back as 1000 AD/CE. This book paints a picture of the life of Jat Sikhs in Punjab that is starkly different from the hard and clear principles put forth by many on threads here at SPN. As if all of Sikhi were one homogenized experience. For example

His family’s attitude towards the Sikh religion was typical of a Jat family. The family patriarch uncle Tiloka and others went to Gurdwara only on Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh’s birthdays and were pretty superstitious. As a child though Gurnam equated Sikh Gurus with Gods and prayed to Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh, yet in real difficulty, he would even remember Ram, Krishna or Buddha. “it did not hurt to ask for additional help” as young Gurnam rationalized. Even now Gurnam would not wash his hair on a Tuesday. His father, however, was influenced by Singh Sabha reforms. He was an Amritdhari Sikh, regular in his nitnem and Gurdwara visits. He wanted to give his children the best education available. No wonder his sons rose to high positions. The eldest Kartar was Colonel in Indian army, Gurnam earned a Ph. D from an American university, Gurdial rose to be a Major-General and youngest Kirpal became a medical doctor. Uncle Tiloka, however, was content if Gurnam passed grade 8 and became a patwari. from a review by Jagpal S. Tiwana http://www.sikhspectrum.com/022008/brard.htm
It's a long book, with some dead zones in it. But gives the living context of rural Punjab from whence contemporary Sikhism emerged. For sure he gave no examples where gays were persecuted that I can recall.
 

Ambarsaria

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spnadmin ji sorry if I generalized.

Little was made of it.

spnadmin ji, this is not my experience living in a village post partition.

His family’s attitude towards the Sikh religion was typical of a Jat family. The family patriarch uncle Tiloka and others went to Gurdwara only on Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh’s birthdays and were pretty superstitious. As a child though Gurnam equated Sikh Gurus with Gods and prayed to Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh, yet in real difficulty, he would even remember Ram, Krishna or Buddha. “it did not hurt to ask for additional help” as young Gurnam rationalized. Even now Gurnam
would not wash his hair on a Tuesday.


  • I can only relate to hair on Tuesday stuff through my Mom when I was young but not my Dad.
  • Rest is junk in the quoted text as far as our Jat family was concerned. Just if you say "Dhan Baba Nanak" (Baba Nanak the great), "Baba Nanak Mehr Karin" (Baba Nanak let there be blessings), "Bajan walia kum wich saflta deveen" (The Falcon Bearer Guru (Guru Gobind Singh ji's from paintings, etc.) let me achieve success). These Guru names were not called out as God and all Hindu and Buddhism stuff was never there.
  • These are phrases of not calling such Gurus as Gods but good names to remember as the associated feelings of Gurbani and Sakhis would come to mind. Ram, Krishna and Buddha stuff is elitist statements made to please the audience addressed by the book. Buddha is not known in villages, I don't know which village he lived in. Ram and Krishan are mentioned in Gurbani and are known through various interactions with Hindus that would live in Punjab and through their Mandirs and festivals.
  • It appears Gurnam came from very crazy Sikh upbringing to generalize and make such statements. I am not saying he is not telling the truth. I am just saying it is extremely dangerous generalization and one that Hinduism wants Sikhs to make.

Tiloka and others went to Gurdwara only on Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh’s birthdays

The following were more notable in Amritsar when I was growing up,

Vaisakh 1 April 14 The Creation of the Khalsa (Sikh brotherhood, "the pure")

Harh 2 June 16 Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev, burnt alive at the stake. Kachi lassi (sweetened milk) is offered to the thirsty passers-by to commemorate his exit from this world.

1st Guru Nanak Dev Katik Pooranmashi
But if it is an autobiography he has rights but if it is scholarly generalizations I cannot comment further till I read the book. It sounds very crazy.

Any way sorry this may be not proper for this thread!

Let me know I can delete it if so desired.

Sat Sri Akal.
 

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