image caption: Gurmukh Singh OBE

Seminars at The Sikh Missionary Society UK

:- Seeking Sikhi Guidance through discussion (ਖੋਜ ਤੇ ਵਿਚਾਰ )

In a seminar, research presentations are followed by questions and general discussion, moderated by a chair or a panel. It is the ideal way to validate research through a questioning approach by involving an audience with shared interests. Good seminars can lead to better community understanding and guidance regarding current topics. They add community accountability to research. Otherwise, Sikh studies at universities show that research in isolation can lead to incomplete, misleading and community-divisive results.

Some good panel-led seminars have been held at the Sikh Missionary Society UK before the prolonged COVID interruption. The Aim of the Society is the advancement of the Sikh faith, tradition and culture in the United Kingdom and abroad. That aim starts with children of different age groups but does not stop there. Charity Commission guidance clarifies that advancement of religion includes encouraging people to join a religion. However, seeking converts actively is not a Sikh aim. Least through questionable tactics as used by Christian pastors in Panjab.

Direct engagement in politics falls outside legitimate charity activism. Otherwise, to quote Commission guidance: Campaigning and political activity can be legitimate and valuable activities for charities to undertake. Charities can campaign for a change in the law, policy or decisions where such change would support the aims. Charities can also campaign to ensure that existing laws are observed.

Pointers to the wide-ranging seminar topics are already given by the type of questions and queries which have been received and responded to by the Society since its foundation in 1969. Sikh view has been sought about mature topics such as status of women in Sikhi mixed-faith Anand Karaj in gurdwaras open-air funeral pyres, human cloning and genome editing care of the planet and ecological Issues Sikh approach to war and peace Sikh identity in the West and so on. Recently, there was contact from BBC about briefing on Homosexuality and Same Sex Marriages (see link below**).

Sikh watch over departments and the media is important regarding correct information and official guidelines about Sikh faith, identity, tradition and institutions. The Society has been involved directly and through other Sikh organisations with legislation affecting Sikh faith and identity rights, turban campaigns in different sectors like building industry, police, army etc the French Turban issue, the Kirpan issue at Heathrow, drafting of Kakaar Guidance by EHRC and the need for Sikh count and monitoring in the Census. The well-publicised Southall Villiers High School Kara case was taken up and won by the Society.

Advancement of collective Sikh organisation as an independent Miri-Piri entity, the Khalsa Panth (2nd part of Sikh Reht Maryada, ਪੰਥਕ ਰਹਿਣੀ ) is the aim of the Sikh faith. No Sikh religious institution, the gurdwaras and the Society, as guided by the Miri-Piri Institution of Sri Akal Tekht Sahib, is exempt from pursuing that aim.

Perhaps, for future reference, topics of wider Sikh faith concern should be included, for example, Christian conversion tactics in Panjab and the helmet issue in the Indian army . Another news topic is the education and advancement of the Nanakpanthi community towards mainstream Sikhi, while the Hindutva challenge to Sikhi is resisted.

The Sikh Missionary Society UK is ideal neutral venue for advanced Sikhi seminars guided by Gurbani, the Sikh Reht Maryada and Sikhi tradition.

** See under articles:

Gurmukh Singh OBE

Principal Civil Servant retd (UK)