UMich Sikh students gather to celebrate Vaisakhi

The Sikh Student Association (SSA) hosted about 100 University of Michigan students and community members Sunday night at the William Monroe Trotter Multicultural Center to celebrate Vaisakhi, a Sikh holiday. The event was co-sponsored by the Office of Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs (MESA), and people of all religious identities were encouraged to attend.

The Sikh faith is a monotheistic religion, which means that followers of Sikhism worship only one God. Equality among all of God’s creations, regardless of race or social status, and freedom to freely choose and practice one’s religion are core beliefs of the Sikh faith.

Sikh music filled the hall throughout Sunday’s event and attendees were treated to a traditional Sikh dinner. The menu included cha, mango lassi, samosas, paneer and Gulab Jamun, a milk-based solid dessert.

Ramneet Chauhan, LSA Senior Co-Chair of SSA, said Vaisakhi is a multi-faceted event for her student organization. She said Vaisakhi is both religiously and culturally significant for those who identify as Sikhs.

“For Punjabis, this event is a harvest festival, and for Sikhs, it is the birth of the Khalsa, which is a festival held by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699,” Ramneet Chauhan said. “Basically, we are celebrating both the religious side and the cultural side of this event.”

Members of the SSA have introduced the public to the Sikh religion throughout history and up to the present day. Sikhism is currently the fifth largest religion in the world, with around 25 million followers worldwide. Sikhism is centered on the idea of ​​unity within humanity, equality for all, and Seva – the act of selfless service and helping others without personal gain.

LSA sophomore Gurleen Chauhan, who will be Co-Chair of the SSA Board of Trustees next year, shared an informative presentation about vacation. Every year on April 13 or 14, Vaisakhi commemorates Sikhism becoming a recognized religion, Gurleen Chauhan said. During the first Vaisakhi festival, Guru Gobind Singh challenged any Sikh to lay down their life for their faith. Five men went with him, and when they returned they were made immortal by the guru’s baptism ceremony, Gurleen Chauhan said.

Besides its religious implications, Vaisakhi celebrates the harvest season in Punjab, India, and the arrival of a new year in the Nanakshahi calendar. It is often celebrated through participation in Bhangra, Giddha and Gatka, different styles of dance and martial arts.

After the presentation, members of the UM Sikh community performed Gatka, a Sikh martial arts routine. Set to lively music, the performers take turns wielding different weapons, including clubs, swords and kirpans.

Music teacher Inderjit Kaur then gave a presentation on the importance of repeating lyrics in Sikh music. Kaur released a video of a song called “Gurbani Kirtan” and spoke about the relationship between music and the human body to demonstrate the power of repetition in Sikh music.

“The way to imbue a singing body is to sing in such a way that the ethical values ​​of the Guru Granth Sahib (Sikh scripture) become a part of us,” Kaur said. “So the technique we are given to do that is repetition. If you keep repeating (a song), it’s not static. This repetition has movement, movement. It changes us. »

LSA Junior Simran Randhawa, who will serve as Co-Chair of the SSA Board of Directors next year, said she hoped events like Vaisakhi would help raise awareness of future SSA events and make it clear that they are accessible to people of all religions who want to know more. on the Sikh faith.

“Having more people at our events and having more frequent events is something we’ve been trying to work on this year, and obviously we want to continue our work next year,” Randhawa said.

Daily reporter Sejal Patil can be reached at [email protected]

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