Sikh and you will find
Reno Sikh Gurdwara
Reno Sikh Gurdwara1380 Selmi Dr.
Reno, NV 89512
Get ready. This one is going to test my skills as a journalist because many of the concepts and words I’m describing are outside my experience. While I’ve gained a general familiarity with many different types of spiritual philosophies in the last couple of years, the Sikhs’ are new to me. I’ll strive for accuracy but apologize in advance if I spell anything wrong.
Maybe it’s appropriate that this article will not be my usual experiential tour of a facility and service, but a more informational piece, with information given to me by Harsimrat Kaur and Amolak Singh Powar, president of the gurdwara (temple), and what I found on sikhnet.com and various other internet sources.
The Sikh philosophy began in 1469 with the birth of Guru Nanak Dev Ji and became formalized in 1699 with the fifth of 10 human gurus, Guru Arjan Dev Ji, and the writing of the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy text and 11th guru of the Sikh religion/philosophy.
The core Sikh beliefs are fairly easy to state but deeply nuanced. First: “There is one supreme eternal reality: the truth, immanent in all things, creator of all things, immanent in creation. Without fear and without hatred, not subject to time, beyond birth and death, self-revealing.”
In the Sikh philosophy, all people are equal; heaven is attained through living a good life and doing good deeds; good fortune must be shared; Hukam (God’s will) is accepted; God must be praised, adherents must be humble and love everyone; the defenseless (regardless of religious affiliation) must be defended.
There are also five vices (temptations) to be avoided: Ego, sex outside of marriage, anger, greed and love of material possessions. There are also proscriptions against tobacco and intoxicants.
Is that enough background? OK, here’s a bit more. Sikh’s are often recognizable by their long hair, turbans and beards. There’s a reason for this. Each Sikh is required to wear five symbols of their faith, the Five K’s: kesh (uncut hair), kanga (wooden comb), kaccha (specially designed underwear), kara (iron bracelet), and kirpan (a small symbolic sword). Finally, it should be noted, that most Sikhs are from the northern Indian state of Punjab, although there are members from all over the world, including one of my hosts, Harsimrat Kaur, who was born in the United States and is a converted Sikh from a Roman Catholic upbringing.
The temple was recently constructed and only opened in April. Since then, every weekend they’ve performed the Akhand Path, a continuous reading of the Guru Granth Sahib. It takes three days to read the entire scripture, and while it’s being read, there’s free vegetarian food for everyone in the large kitchen/community area.
Actually, most of the time Hunter and I visited the gurdwara, we sat in the community area with Kaur and Powar. We were asked to cover our heads and remove our shoes upon entry. The reading of the scripture by Head Priest Bakhshish Singh was broadcast on speakers and a television screen overhead. Toward the end of the evening, we were invited into the Darbar Sahib (prayer hall), as the priest finished up, and Kaur prepared for her two-hour reading stint. When the priest finished, he brought parshad (a sweet pudding) to the people who were sitting on the floor, which we ate with our hands.
This was one of the more interesting visits for us. We knew nothing about Sikhism—by the way, it’s neither Hindu nor Muslim, but its own thing. I’d hazard a guess that many people in Reno are as ignorant about it as I was. I’d also guess that just about anyone would be made to feel as welcome as Hunter and I were in the new gurdwara.