Amritsar Travel Blog› entry 18 of 30 › view all entries
Amritsar is home to the Golden Temple, the Vatican (if you like) to the Sikh religion. It is truly an awesome sight and we visited it during the day, at sunset and during the night to fully appreciate its shimmering beauty.
- The golden centrepiece of the temple is in the middle of large rectangular pool.
- Broad walkways surround the pool and it is very peaceful to perambulate here.
- This is then surrounded by white latticed buildings which comprise a museum, a kitchen, dormitories and other functional areas.
We met three Israelis who had made a special effort to stay in the temple rather than in a hotel. The man is a civil engineer, which probably means that he builds roads, dams, bridges ... and maybe in his case a wall or two?
Sikhism was started by Guru Nanak in the 15th Century.
- It left out Hinduism's sati (burning of a widow on the late husband's funeral pyre).
- It also left Hinduism's caste system.
- It has the "one God" and "no idols" policy that Islam has.
In the old days, Sikhs were quite distinctive:
- Sikh men traditionally do not cut their hair (on the head and the beard).
- They use the surname "Singh" meaning lion, while the women use "Kaur". In Western countries, both genders may use "Singh". Excuse the Sikh jokes in here that Malaysians will know.
- They wear a turban and a metal bangle.
- Not so distinctive is the requirement to wear loose underwear.
Nowadays, many modern Sikhs have abandoned the turban .
Sikhs had fought for some years for a separate state but unsuccessfully. There were instances of terrorism (including the bombing of an Air India B747 over the Atlantic). There was also the assasination of Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguard (Assa-Singh?). Now, India's prime minister is a Sikh ... maybe there is hope for the world to get over the current troubled times.
The five Ks of Sikhs
Here are five essential Ks in the Sikh dress code, as published in the New Zealand Herald on 26JAN06 in an article about how several Sikh priests boarded a small aircraft with their ceremonial daggers. No security checks are performed in New Zealand for domestic aircraft seating less than 90 passengers.
"Men and women are required to wear their hair long and never cut it (kesh). They also have to wear a steel bracelet (kara), a dagger (kirpan), a wooden comb (kangha) and long underpants (kach). The kirpan is worn by baptised Sikhs as a symbol of their willingness to fight in defence of their beliefs and the continued fight against evil."