Hard Talk You’re Killing Sikhism In America: An Open Letter To Gurdwara Committees

Discussion in 'Hard Talk' started by Aman Singh, Jan 15, 2016.

  1. Aman Singh

    Aman Singh Admin SPNer

    Jun 1, 2004
    Likes Received:
    Dear Gurdwara Committees,

    To put it bluntly, you’re killing Sikhism in America.

    On Sunday, January 10th, a video capturing a dramatic fight at the Turlock Sikh Temple in California went viral. The images of men and women shouting, punching and even hitting each other with weapons, present a scene of utter chaos. Unfortunately, this sort of scene has become all too familiar in gurdwara’s across the world.

    I don’t know the reason behind the fight. Nor am I familiar with the petty nuances of Gurdwara politics. And frankly, I don’t care.


    What I do care about is the detrimental impact the conflict in Turlock, and other conflicts like it, have on the next generation of Sikhs in America. When you participate in this sort of needless violence, it does irreparable damage to the long term future of Sikhs in the country. In order for any religious community to sustain itself, it must assimilate its youth. This youth must be proud of its identity. This youth should have a basic understanding of the major principles of its faith. And most importantly, this youth must take an active interest in the preservation of the faith.

    Instead, these sorts of fights have the opposite effect. Because for me, and thousands of other Sikh youth, this sort of violence, pettiness and chaos is a major turn off from the faith itself.

    I’d like to clarify that I am not a particularly religious person. I am not overly familiar with gurbani (Sikh religious sculpture). And I’m no scholar of the faith. However, there are some fundamental aspects of the Sikh identity I cherish. These include a commitment to philanthropy, the inclusion of other faiths and dedication to equality. I, and the thousands of other youth like me, all probably fall in this general category. We may not completely understand the historical significance of gurbani, but we align ourselves with these tenants. And I’d argue this is why young Sikh men and women still continue to take an interest in their religion. These are things we understand. These are things we pride ourselves on.

    However, when we see scenes of shameful violence like what happened in Turlock, we distance ourselves from these institutions of faith. This, in turn, is producing a generation of uninterested, and apathetic Sikhs. We don’t want to get tangled in politics, so we simply stop showing up. The difference between Sikhism, and other major Abrahamic faiths operating in this country, has been Sikhism’s lack of contemporary adaptation. There is a clear disconnect from the young men and women who are supposed to carry the torch of Sikhi, and those who currently operate its institutions. This divide is more than cultural. It’s a fundamental difference in how we view the religion. While you’ve become entrenched in pursuit of your own petty politics, you’ve managed to marginalize and push away those same people who are supposed to fill your ranks.

    You, and committees like yourself, have created a toxic environment within our religious institutions. Gurdwara’s are meant to be places of serenity, introspection and peace. Instead, you, and whatever ridiculous politics you subscribe to, have shamefully devolved them into the subject of viral fight videos. You may dismiss this letter as some ignorant American kid who knows nothing about the faith. That may be true. But I can tell you this:

    If this continues, the hollow chambers of Gurdwara halls, all over the world, will be filled with nothing more than the sounds of your needless arguing. Shame on you.


    The future

  2. Harry Haller

    Harry Haller

    Panga Master


    Jan 31, 2011
    Likes Received:

    awww come on, they are amateurs compared to our home grown Punjabi committees!

    btw why does it look like the light purple turban Sikh is holding a pint of beer?
  3. ActsOfGod

    ActsOfGod Writer SPNer

    Aug 14, 2012
    Likes Received:
    Too true!
  4. Original

    Original Writer SPNer

    Jan 10, 2011
    Likes Received:
    ...well said !

    To protect, preserve n further Sikh Institutional, young blood is required and that too, quasi-religious and more corporate thinking.
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2016
  5. Tejwant Singh

    Tejwant Singh Mentor Writer SPNer

    Jun 30, 2004
    Likes Received:
    Turlock is in central California where there are lots of Sikh farmers and Sikh trucking companies. Turlock Gurdwara is famous for infightings. This gripe is between the 'old' and the 'new', between 'the orthodoxy' and 'the contemporary' 'Sikhi thought'.

    The infighting is between the Keshadharis and the clean shaven. The latter seems to be nouveau riche which they think makes them powerful in the Gurdwara.
    Aman Singh likes this.
  6. Brother Onam

    Brother Onam Writer SPNer

    Jul 11, 2012
    Likes Received:
    Not just any beer. Miri Piri beer! To slay heathens!

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice