Under shadow regardless of 500-year-old historical past

Sikhism in Nepal
Kupondole-based Gurdwara Guru Nanak Satsang. Photo: Nasana Bajracharya

Krishna Prasad Kadariya (72) lives contained in the Pashupatinath temple premises. He wakes up at 2 am day-after-day, takes a shower and does his nitya puja (each day worshipping rituals). Then, he opens up the door of a gurdwara in Nirmal Akhada and takes out the Guru Granth Sahib by 4 am. As a ritual, this follower of Sikhism in Nepal folds his palms, bows his head and leaves the holy ebook open (prakash). He goes by his work all day after which within the night closes the ebook and retains it at relaxation (sukhaasana) within the night. This is a cycle of rituals equal to people waking up and sleeping each day. 

For greater than three many years now, he has been working contained in the Pashupatinath premises as a priest and caretaker of the gurdwara. But, Kadariya is just not a Sikh; he’s a follower of Vedic Sanatan Dharma (Hinduism) and believes strongly in Pashupatinath. “This work doesn’t bar me from performing the rituals due to my faith. And, it has additionally stored me near Pashupatinath,” he says, “Every day a mul-mala (garland) goes from the gurdwara to Pashupatinath as an providing and I’m privileged to take action, and I might need to proceed this for a few years to come back as properly.”

Gurdwara in Pashupatinath Temple area
A gurdwara at Nirmala Akhada within the Pashupatinath temple space. Photo: Nasana Bajracharya

On the opposite facet of the town, within the north of the Shova Bhagawati temple, close to Khusibu, is 45-year-old Laxmi Karki, who additionally spends her day like Kadariya. Starting her day at round 6 am, she takes out the holy ebook for “prakash” and takes care of the gurdwara all day and closes the ebook for sukhaasana. Karki can be a Hindu devotee in follow.

Both Kadariya and Karki imagine that there’s a lot to study from Sikhism and the phrases of Guru Nanak. Yet, because the Sikh group in Nepal gears as much as have fun the 552nd Guru Nanak Jayanti or Gurparva this 12 months, Sikhism in Nepal continues to be underwhelmed in a number of features.

Understanding Sikhism

Sikhism is a faith principally practised within the Punjab state of India, however the faith discovered its approach to Nepal following the footsteps of Guru Nanak.

Gyani Gurbakhsh Singh of Kupondole gurdwara talks about sikhism in nepal
Gyani Gurbakhsh Singh of Kupondole-based Gurdwara Guru Nanak Satsang talks about Sikhism in Nepal. Photo: Nasana Bajracharya

Gyani Gurbakhsh Singh (64), a Sikh priest at Kupondole-based Gurdwara Guru Nanak Satsang, explains, “About 500 years in the past, Guru Nanak got here to Nepal. He stayed at completely different locations in Kathmandu and preached his phrases, talked about the fitting lifestyle. Many sages, monks and commoners got here and sat in entrance of him and believed his phrases. And, that marked the beginning of Sikhism in Nepal.”

“The locations he preached at are in the present day made into gurdwaras,” he provides, saying anybody who needs to study and embrace the teachings of Guru Nanak is welcome to take action with doorways of gurdwara at all times open to them.

But, the principle priest is saddened that many misread and vaguely misunderstand Sikhs and Sikhism in Nepal. Singh, who identifies himself as a Nepali Sikh, says, “I’m a Nepali, however my look is misunderstood by many. I settle for the phrases of Guru Nanak Sahib, I don’t lower my hair, put on a pagadi, put on a kadaa and maintain a kirpan (a form of knife). But, this can be a matter of prejudice and those that don’t perceive both worry or move feedback that aren’t right.”

“The purpose why we don’t lower our hair is that Guru Nanak says our hair is our supply of vitality, so we don’t lower the supply. The pagadi is to guard the pinnacle, the place lies our identification [much like a CPU of a computer]. We carry a weapon with us to at all times be able to struggle and defend others and the kadaa is to guard our palms that carry the weapons and struggle. It is all an inexpensive ask and for us to be protectors and serve folks. All this doesn’t speak about which nation we belong to,” Singh stresses.

Singh, a well-liked face amongst all Sikhs in Nepal, needs folks to first study the distinction.

“Many Punjabis, the residents of Punjab, comply with Sikhism. But, not all who comply with Sikhism or adorn pagadi are Punjabis. I’m a Nepali, not Punjabi or Indian. My forefathers have been Nepali Sikhs, and so am I.”

So, he says, they’re identical to others. “There are individuals who comply with completely different religions, we’re additionally the identical.”

The underwhelming features

sikhism in nepal Gurdwara Guru Nanak Satsang
Gurdwara Guru Nanak Satsang in Kupondole, Lalitpur. Photo: Nasana Bajracharya

Sikhism in Nepal has been in follow for an extended. People attain Kupondole to supply their prayers to Guru Nanak and yearly on Guru Nanak Jayanti, they get collectively and organise langar (a feast) to mark the day. However, other than the Kudpondole-based gurdwara, there will not be many who know that there are different gurdwaras in Kathmandu.

There are two contained in the Pashupatinath space, however persons are unaware of the existence of Sikhism in Nepal.

Other gurdwaras are additionally not as extravagant as those in Kupondole. Be it in Pashupati, Shova Bhagawati or Balaju, these gurdwaras are nestled away from the general public eye, working all in hush-hush, and within the shadow of Hindu temples. gurdwaras right here have scattered, restricted or no viewers within the day besides on Guru Nanak Jayanti. Caretakers Kadariya and Karki are the caretakers, however they depart the area locked, solely to open when guests are available in and for sukhaasana.

Outside these gurdwaras, persons are nonetheless unaware of the faith. Even residents across the gurdwaras imagine that solely Punjabis are available in to supply their prayers. Even Singh, exterior the gurdwara’s premises, faces an amazing ordeal to make folks perceive the values of Sikhism. “Unless somebody comes right here to know extra, folks exterior will not be straightforward to speak to,” he complains.

People’s conversion to Sikhism in Nepal is one other matter that will get closely misunderstood. Though a caretaker of the gurdwara, even Kadariya holds a robust opinion that altering one’s faith and following one other faith is just not proper however says, “Guru Nanak’s phrases are true and we will comply with them with out altering our faith too.”

Gurdwara at Shova Bhagawati
A gurdwara at Shova Bhagawati. Photo: Nasana Bajracharya

Likewise, Karki provides, “My household follows Hinduism; I couldn’t simply drop the faith. But if one can comply with the phrases of Guru Nanak, of avoiding alcohol, cigarettes, meat and tobacco, it does lead to a wholesome life-style.” 

Though Kadariya disapproves, some folks have modified their faith and now comply with Sikhism in Nepal. A girl who reached Kupondole shares that she was the primary within the household to comply with Sikhism some 50 years in the past and now her youngsters do too.

But, Singh nonetheless has some grievances to pour, “There are individuals who perceive, who come and serve right here, pay their respects and donate to the needy like on Gurparva. And, some folks comply with blindly as a result of their household follows the faith. The latter will not be true followers. If it’s a must to comply with any faith, comply with them solely after you perceive it or make makes an attempt to grasp it on the very least. That’s the phrase of Guru Nanak and that’s the way it must be.”

Sikhs in Nepal are prone to proceed to face underwhelming publicity. Nevertheless, because the Guru Nanak Jayanti nears, the gurdwara in Kupondole is gearing as much as put together for the langar and the celebration for the day together with the 48-hour-long akhanda paath.

Originally printed in November 2021