Center for Sikh Studies Launched
On Feb. 1, 2013, Claremont Lincoln University leaders were joined by distinguished members of the Southern California Sikh community and over 60 invited guests, to inaugurate the Center for Sikh Studies. The new Center will raise awareness, recognition, and understanding of Sikhism - the 5th largest religion in the world, and provide a site for meaningful interreligious dialogue.
The need for creating further awareness about Sikhism in America was envisioned by Dr. H. Sahota, a world-renowned cardiologist, and Harry Sidhu, Orange County Water District Director and Former Anaheim Mayor Pro Tem. Their sustained efforts found equally dedicated partners in Claremont Lincoln President, Rev. Dr. Jerry Campbell, and Provost, Dr. Phillip Clayton. During the inauguration, Dr. Campbell and Dr. Clayton were presented with the ceremonial Siropas by prominent Sikh business owner Harbhajan Samra and Sir Eldon Griffiths, former member in Parliament and Cabinet Minister, U.K
Dr. Sahota and Director Sidhu, in turn were presented with commemorative university mugs as a symbol of the continuous hospitality the Sikh community will receive from Claremont Lincoln University. Claremont Lincoln University was also presented with portraits of the first and tenth gurus, the revered founders of Sikhism.
In his closing remarks, Director Sidhu requested continued support from the Sikh Community to help sustain and advance the Center in achieving the following goals: (1) Offering two or more Sikh Studies courses per year; (2) Hiring more faculty to be able to offer an accredited M.A. degree in Sikh Studies; (3) Offering online academic courses to serve students across North America and worldwide; (4) Offering adult education courses on Sikhs and Sikhism; (5) Offering opportunities for the Southern California Sikh community to benefit from activities at Claremont Lincoln University and helping Claremont Lincoln students visit local Sikh gurdwaras; (6) Arranging for travel and study programs to the Golden Temple and other important sites in India; and (7) Encouraging networking between Claremont Lincoln’s Sikh Studies programs at other universities in North America.
Founded in the 15th century in the Punjab region of India, Sikhism is one of the world’s monotheistic religions. The Punjab was an area heavily populated with Hindu and Muslim communities. From amidst that diversity, the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak, received a vision of unity. Guru Nanak proposed a new social order that was not based on sectarian differences but on devotion to God, who is pervasive in all people regardless of race, class, caste, or gender. The universe and its inhabitants are all an aspect of God’s truth, he proclaimed.
Men and women are equal in Sikhism and most have recognizable surnames: "Singh" for males, which means "lion," and "Kaur" for females, which means "princess." Sikhs who have undergone the Sikh initiation ceremony can be recognized by five symbols that they wear on their person: their uncut hair, an iron/steel bracelet, a small knife is worn in a gatra strap, a type of special shorts, and a small comb tucked into their hair. In contemporary times of travel restrictions, the knife is replaced by a stylized blade with no sharp edges. Male Sikhs cover their hair with a turban, while female Sikhs may wear a turban or a headscarf. Some Americans mistake Sikhs for Muslims because of their turbans.
The Sikh lifestyle is to work diligently and honestly, to meditate, to share with others, and to increase good karma by working for truth, equality, freedom, and justice. Sikh ethics derive from devotion to God’s creation, personal discipline, and community solidarity. The purpose of life is to realize God within the world through the daily practices of work, worship, charity, and sacrificing love.
blog comments powered by Disqus