Sikhi and sacrifice
My favourite part of visiting new places is listening to local stories and histories. Its easy to read about different cultures online, but completely different hearing someone tell the stories about their people with passion. It also allows me to contextualise the history of my own ancestors.
Every culture is told they have they have an exceptional history and Sikhs are no different. There are many cultures, countries and religions that have extraordinary individuals and histories. Christians and Muslims were both persecuted during their formative years, Jews were persecuted for almost 2 millenia, Hindus at one point had a culture that extended from Iran all the way to Vietnam. The Inca tell the stories of Tupac Amaru, the Americans of George Washington, the French have Charlemagne and the English have Richard the Lionheart. In fact, in the presence of a few common factors, it is almost inevtiable that extraordinary individuals or events will arise.
Sikhi was borne into a situation where all three of the above factors were prevalent, however it still doesnt explain the disproportinate number of events in Sikh history nor the large number of extraordinary individuals in the Sikh nation within such a short period of time. For this there is the presence of an extra couple of elements, the first of which is Sikh philosophy.
English company men from the East India Company were astounded when watching the execution of Banda Singh Bahadur and his Sikhs in 1716 by the Mughal Empire. Not only did every Sikh refuse to save his/her life by converting to Islam, but Sikhs were actually fighting with each other to be executed first. The earliest English explorers termed Sikhi as a death cult, erroneously claiming the Sikhs worshipped death and that they would cry at the birth of a child and celebrate the death of a fellow Sikh. In fact, what the British were seeing was the concept of Chardi Kala a central part of Sikh philosophy that focuses on optimism, even in adversity. They were also witnessing the power of Naam where a Sikh in a meditative state of mindfulness can divert their attention from physical pain to a state of serenity.
British Sikh in my twenties, born in the Midlands, based in London, travelling the world seeing new cultures.