Temple a simple word is chipping away at the Sikh identity, under the covers of innocent terminology. The word Temple is suppose to make it easier for the local residence to understand what a Gurudwara is but it just confuses them even more. Earlier this year an incident took place in my life which I didn’t think much about till today the importance of it clicked in my mind. I was leaving Gurudwara Sahib to go do some grocery shopping with my aunt, when a local resident approached us in the Gurudwara parking lot wanting help with Hindi terminology, telling us with pride that he is learning about Hinduism. I explained to him that we were not Hindus and this was a Gurudwara, that he should look into the yellow pages to find some look temples. But none the less my aunt can look over the words he wrote in Hindi because she knows a little bit Hindi. All the words written by him were religious terms and she helped him the best she could and we left without a second thought. Now that I look back at that incident I think about the use of the word Temple, the attempts by Hinduism to engulf Sikhism and major religions of the world.
At the end of each side of the street on which the Gurudwara Sahib Ji (which I attend)is located, there is a sign that points out the ‘Sikh Temple’ is in that direction. There is a street sign in front of the Gurudwara Sahib that once again states ‘Sikh Temple’. In a area where the local residence don’t have knowledge of what Sikhism is, who Sikhs are, they see the word ‘temple’ and the Indian background and immediately think Hinduism. Just like the guy that approached us in the parking lot. Why are we changing the name of Gurudwara for the sake of convenience of others? What is next? Changing practices like wearing the 5 Kakkars because its too much trouble to explain to people of other faiths what the Kakkars represent? Sikhs have to live up to their responsibilities and be willing to explain Sikh traditions and Sikh terminology or risk being swallowed by Hinduism.
Hindu’s from day one have been saying that Sikhs are part of Hinduism because Guru Nanak Dev Ji took birth in Hindu family. They have denied Sikhs the right to their own country during partition, made us a part of Hindustan. They came into our Gurudwara’s in 1984 and opened fire on us, trying to wipe out Sikhs. They copied Harmandir Sahib, trying to draw people away from Sikhism. They try to mix their Hindu traditions into our Sikh practices. If all else fails they begin debates about Sikhism is just a part of Hinduism. We don’t need another word that links us to Hinduism, and gives them another example how we are connected. Sikhism was, is and always will be an independent religion that Hindu’s can’t end from this world or even India, as they did with Buddhism.
Three out of five major world religions trace their origin back to India; Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism. Once upon a time India use to be predominately a Buddhist country but today there are only faint traces of Buddhism left in India and they no longer use their original term for temple, Vihara. Hinduism is thriving in India, mainly due to the fact that India boosts a huge growing population that is predominately Hindus. Sikhism is constantly attacked in attempts to bring them into under the label of Hinduism. The other two major world religions, Islam and Christianity, continue to thrive and use their proper religious terms for their places of worship. Sikhs have to take control and keep their identity separate from Hindus, if they wish people would know and recognize them one of the five main religions of the World.
As Sikhs we keep the image that sets us apart from the world, then why are we simplifying things to fit in? Sikhs need to keep using the term Gurudwara and educating people on what a Gurudwara is. Gurudwara means ‘home of God’ and it should be nothing but a matter of pride for any Sikh.
Authors Note: Please don’t copy without talking to me first.