Question & Answer-38
What is the status of women in Sikhism ?
Sikhism there's complete equality between sexes. Women can visit a temple,
conduct service, lead Sikh armies, vote in elections and claim all rights
enjoyed by Sikh men. The Sikh women are not required to observe Parda
(veil) or commit Sati (burn on the funeral pyre with the husband). The Sikhs
call a wife as Ardhangni (Better half).
is no restriction on their education or movements as long as they follow the
Guru's instructions. "Eve" in Sikhism is not regarded as
temptation-incarnate but as "the conscience of men." It is on record that
Guru Amar Das appointed women as missionaries of
the Sikh faith. Guru Tegh Bahadur once remarked that women of Amritsar were
nearer to God than men because they accepted "God's will readily" as
compared to their counterparts who were "jealous and cunning."
Sikh history the part played by Mai Bhago and others is well-known. They
denounced their husbands who had deserted Guru Gobind Singh and formed a
women-batallion to make amends for their husbands' folly. They gave a tough
fight to the enemy and decimated themselves as a moth on fire.
How do the Sikhs solemnize marriage ?
boys and girls are married according to Anand marriage ceremony
recognised under Government of India Anand Marriage Act of 1909. The couple
are taken to a Sikh temple and seated in front of the Holy Scriptures (Guru
Granth Sahib). The responsibilities and duties of married life are explained
to them by the Sikh Priest (the person who officiates at the ceremony).
bride then holds a sash of the bridegroom and the Priest reads the four Lavan (the epithalamium) of Guru Ram Das which explain the four stages of
the human life. After each reading the couple bow to the Holy Book in
acceptance of the advice contained in the Lavan. After the fourth stanza,
the Anand Sahib of Guru Amar Das is recited and the ceremony is over.
the whole ceremony takes place in front of the Guru (The Holy Scriptures),
no document of marriage is considered to be necessary. However there is no
objection to anybody asking for such a document. An ideal marriage has been
described by the Guru as follows:- "They are not husband and wife who are
joined only for physical contact; Rather they are husband and wife who have
one spirit in two bodies."
Why are marriages arranged in Sikhism ?
is absolutely no restriction on the question of marriage. The adults have
every right to get married without the consent of their parents. Arranging
of marriages is traditional and not religious. The practice of arranged
marriages is dying out quickly among the Sikhs. Most Sikh children and
especially girls like to depend on the expert guidance and help of their
parents, in finding a suitable partner.
How is Sikhism reacting towards modern science ?
Sikhism is basically a religion of action and human freedom. It is
rational and based on moral laws which no science has ever challenged.
However much science develops man will still require morality to lead a
happy life. Ritualism and formalism suffer owing to the scientific approach
of the modern mind to human understanding; and Sikhism is free from them.
Another important feature of modern society is its tendency towards
democratic and socialistic pattern of life. Sikhism is based on democracy
instituted by Guru Gobind Singh at the time of starting the baptismal
ceremony. He also demonstrated that his five democrats had the authority to
order even him. Modern democracy is similarly responsible to the electorate.
Furthermore Sikhism seeks social equality through its philosophy of a
classless and casteless society and its institution of the Langar. The Sikh
Gurus were not scientists but the ideas expressed by them in the Holy Granth
find full support from modern science.
"There are millions of moons and suns
and many solar systems like ours" said Guru Nanak and modern science has
confirmed this beyond doubt. "Na kichh aibo na jaibo, Ram ki dohai re"
Nothing comes and goes; Believes me it is the divine law." (Bhagat Pipa-Guru
Granth Sahib) This idea has its echo in the law of indestructibility of
matter and energy in our modern science.
"Jo brahmande soi pinde" "Whatever
is in the universe, is in the matter." (Guru Granth Sahib) In order to see
how this idea has been discovered and explained by modern science the reader
is recommended to read "Vishav Pariche" written by Dr. Rabindra Nath Tagore.
Examples can be multiplied ad infinitum. Modern Science is therefore
complementary to Sikhism and is in no way opposed to it.
What are the ceremonies observed by the Sikhs ?
Sikhs have very few ceremonies in the strictest sense of the word. Baptism
and marriage are the main ceremonies. Baptism is administered by five Sikhs
in the presence of the Holy Sri Guru Granth Sahib (Sikh
Scriptures). They take some water in a bowl and say the five Sikh prayers
and side by side stir the water with a double-edged sword called "Khanda."
has already been described in question no.25. The Sikhs usually call their
ceremonies as Smagam (functions). Akhand Path (continuous reading
of the Sikh Scriptures). Child Birth and Death are other such functions. At
each function the hymns are read and the sacred food (Karah Parshad) is
distributed at the end.
Are there any special days on which the Sikh children must
from school ?
is no special day on which a child must be absent and must join a ceremony.
However it all depends on one's discretion. The ceremonies are not arranged
on any days considered as auspicious.
Is there any restriction of dress for the Sikhs ?
is absolutely no restriction regarding dress but the Sikhs are asked to
avoid immodest and gaudy dress. 5 K's and turban are necessary for
the baptised Sikhs and they shall in no case wear a cap or a hat.