Sikhs believe in one God, tolerance of all faiths and equality. A Sikh dedicates their life to honest hard work, praying to God and giving to charity, a way of life for Sikhs since the religion emerged 500 years ago under the guidance of Guru Nanak. Sikhs follow their holy text, which is written by the ten gurus, and treated as if it were a living guru as it speaks of all their teachings. The tenth Guru, Gobind Singh, outlined a code of conduct for Sikhs which requires them to wear turbans and carry a Kirpan.
Sikhism is built upon the principles of the five Ks which includes the idea that Sikhs shouldn’t cut their hair as it is a gift from God. All men have the surname Singh and all females have the surname Kaur.
We talked to President Aman Dhesi about Sikhism and the common misconceptions he has encountered. He spoke of the tendency to confuse Sikhism and Hinduism and said that some even label Sikhs as terrorits, although he admitted that there was a growing awareness of the Sikh faith, ‘Of late, however Sikhism has been brought into the debate over knife crime as some have used the Kirpan as an offensive weapon and some believe in the age of knife crime we shouldn’t be allowed to carry such an item around with us. However, as we have to carry the Kirpan due to the command of one of the gurus, we do not have the option of not carrying it. People should not take an article of faith out of context and each case of abuse should be judged on an individual basis.’
We talked about religious tolerance and Aman pointed out that organisations such as Co-exist are contributing towards a positive effect on inter-faith relations. He emphasised the need for different communities to deal with incompatible beliefs through discussion and dialogue, and defended an individual’s right to religious exemptions, ‘every individual should have the right to determine how they wish to dress. We have a society where someone is allowed to dress as a punk rocker without criticism but then others may wear a veil and receive criticism. As long as these decisions don’t interfere with someone else’s wellbeing then it shouldn’t be an issue.’
Finally we talked about the implications of following religion on campus. Aman described his beliefs as ‘liberating’ rather than restricting. Although he cannot drink alcohol, he does not feel this is a restriction but rather a moral belief, ‘I do believe that you shouldn’t let your religious beliefs infringe on your own moral beliefs as we all have our own individual experiences which shape the person we are. Morality is, after all, the result of both religious and personal experiences.’
– **President:** Aman Dhesi
– **Membership:** 50-60 members on facebook, with 30-40 active members.
– **Events:** The society offers a range of events which mix both religious and social aspects. Last year a new holy place of worship, the Gurudwara, opened in Leamington and for the opening the society collaborated with the place of worship to create a number of commemorative events. Usual socials include: ice skating and weekly visits to Gurudwara whilst last term they organised a session of devotional hymns which discussed the history of Sikh oppression. This term they will be presiding over an event, called Hola Moholla, which will celebrate the Sikh approach to warfare. All these events aim to unite the Sikh community and bring them closer together.