Sikhism in Canada

Topics: Sikhism, Sikh, Guru Gobind Singh Pages: 7 (2379 words) Published: August 16, 2010
LeDrew 1
Sikhism in Canada: Past, Present and Future
Sikhs Arrive to Canada
In the world today there are many different religions, all of which have their own beliefs and traditions. Sikhism is one religion in Canada that has had many struggles to be accepted into society. In 1897 Sikhs began to arrive in Canada: “Up to 1950, Sikhs constituted more than 85% of all East Indian immigration to Canada.” (Brar 1) These Sikhs were not welcomed with open arms, however Canada was not happy with the amount of Sikh individuals who were moving into our country. Eventually, to decrease the number of Sikhs entering Canada, a law was formed in 1908 stating that each Sikh must pay a fee of $200 before entering our country: “From 2,623 immigrants allowed into Canada in 1907, only 6 were allowed in 1908.” (Brar 1) this was an unexpected, dramatic decrease that affected the many Sikh families who had planned on moving to Canada as refugees. The first female Sikhs to arrive to Canada was in July 1911, twenty four years after the arrival of the first Sikhs. These female Sikhs arrived on the West coast of the country in Vancouver B.C. They were the wife and daughter of Hira Singh, who were both arrested at the docks with unjust deportation. “By denying Sikhs their wives and children it was hoped that within a few years most of the Sikhs in Canada would return to their homeland.” (Brar 1) Even though our country allowed 1,037 Chinese and Japanese women in Canada in the year of 1920, only 9 Sikh women were allowed entry. The government of B.C. also passed a bill in 1907 stating that Sikhs no longer had the right to vote in the province. This was yet another way that Canada had hoped to convince the Sikhs to return to their home land. As the Sikh population gradually grew in Canada, they realized that it was very different to live here and formed their own communities, separate from others who lived here. This community became very close and relied on one another for all necessary needs. In 1907 the Sikh community had their first death. As a custom to their religion, they were to cremate the body, but in Canada there were not allowed any crematoriums. The government first tried to convince them to bury the body in a Christian cemetery. In spite of their best efforts, the government failed to have the body buried, and the Sikhs carried out their own religious tradition in the woods away from any other human activity. A Look at the Sikh Beliefs

Along with their ritual of cremating the bodies of friends and family, the Sikhs also have very many other interesting beliefs, one of which is the Gurdwara. The Gurdwara is a temple where Sikhs go to worship and pray, comparable to a church in Christianity. The first temple in Canada was opened in 1908 on Second Avenue, Vancouver B.C. In the temple there is a book of holy scriptures called the Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Although the original copy of the holy text was destroyed in a battle in 1762, a new copy was made and is now considered the official version. This holy text is kept under a canopy in the temple for all to see. Worshipers sit on carpets while listening to readings, prayers and hymns from this holy text. The Sikhs pay much appreciation to their holy beliefs and traditions. The basic beliefs of their God which are quoted from B. P. L. Bedi, by Rice 61 are: Ek The one

Onkar The parent of sound creative
Sat nam Truth is your name
Karta purkha Creator of existence and Lord of non- existence
Nirbhau Of beginningless Beginning and Endless Ending
Nirvair Without an opposite
Akal Moorat The embodiment of Immortality
Ajooni Free from the cycle of birth and death
Sehbhang Self - manifested
Gur prasad Self - revealed, by grace of Himself
Jap Praise the One
Aad sach...

Bibliography: Singh Brar, Sandeep. Century of Struugle and Success: The Sikh Canadian Experience. 1997. 10 March 2009 <>
Kaur Singh, Nikky-Guinder. Sikhism: World Religion. New York: Facts on File Inc., 1993
Rice, Edward. Ten Religions of the East.pp50-81. New York: Four Winds Press, 1974
Penny, Sue. Sikhism: Discovering Religions. Austin: Steck-Vaughn Publishers, 1997
Robinson, B.A. Religious Tolerance. 1996. 09 March 2009 <>
DND Religions in Canada. 2007. 09 March 2009 <>
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