Yesterday, after hearing a lot about the shooting at a Sikh temple, I spent some researching what the Sikh’s are. A fascinating people in many respects, one which is on the verge of extinction, the Sikh Warrior.
I poked around a bit and learned that the Sikh’s once had a great empire in India. It existed for a few centuries, with a great army, until two bloody wars with the British empire left them subjugated. It is during this time that the famous Sikh warrior came about, both as native Sikh fighters and as fighters in the British army after their defeat.
Apparently, they were so fearsome that the British had to outlaw various aspects of their culture. One of those was their martial art, Shastar Vidiya, a fighting form thought to be older than any Chinese and Japanese form. And, by outlaw, I mean anyone caught practicing will be put to death.
Today, this martial art is all but extinct. Only one master remains and he is hoping to pass on the martial art before it dies out. Ironically, he is British and hoping to convert British Sikh’s.
Surrounded by hostile Hindu and Muslim empires who were opposed to the emergence of a new religion in their midst, the Sikhs quickly turned themselves into an efficient and fearsome warrior race. The most formidable group among them were the Akali Nihangs, a blue-turbaned sect of fighters who became the crack troops and cultural guardians of the Sikh faith….Astonished by the ferocity and bravery of the Akali Nihangs, the Punjab’s new colonial administrators swiftly banned the group and forbade Sikhs from wearing the blue turbans that defined the Akalis.
Sikhism, the world’s fifth most popular religion, emerged more than 500 years ago in Punjab, in what is now India. It was founded by Guru Nanak, a non-practicing Hindu who was against rituals and praying to idols.
It is a monotheistic faith that believes in equality and service to others.
Doing good deeds is important for you to be with God after death, says Raghunandan Johar. Sikhs believe that if you don’t live a life full of good deeds you will be reborn and repeat the circle of life and death.
At a typical gurdwara (temple), the doors open up at 6 a.m. for prayers. A formal service includes the singing of hymns and a team of leaders who have studied the faith reciting from the Guru Granth Sahib, Sikhism’s holy scriptures. That book, more than 1,400 pages long, includes writings from Sikhism’s 10 gurus as well as writers from other religions.
Most Sikh men don’t cut their hair and wear turbans and beards. Many American Sikh women dress like other Westerners or wear the salwar kameez, a traditional north Indian garment of a long shirt and loose-fitting pants.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, capitalizing on the tremendous success of their Animal Planet TV show, “Whale Wars,” has now taken on a new battle. With the Japanese fleet’s Antarctic hunt finished for the season, the skull-and-crossbones crew have turned their attention on the Faroe Islands with a new show: “Whale Wars: Viking Shores”
In the Faroe Islands, the oceangoing conservation outfit is not hectoring a faceless, corporate, government-subsidized commercial whaling outfit with massive factory ships that kill whales in the name of “research.” On this grouping of 18 small islands in the North Atlantic, a Danish protectorate situated between Iceland and Scotland, the people kill pilot whales by hand, on the shore, as part of a traditional hunt called the “Grind,” (pronounced “grinned”) which residents say is thousands of years old.
The Grind is not pretty, and “Viking Shores” pulls no punches. The Faroese send boats out into the ocean to find pilot whales, which are cetaceans not as large as the fin or minke whales hunted by the Japanese, but are slightly bigger than dolphins. Then they herd the mammals toward one of several dozen beaches on the islands, where residents lie in wait. As the powerful creatures beach themselves in panic, hunters wade into them with long curved hooks and slaughter the whole pod in a bloody frenzy. The Faroese eat a lot of pilot whale.