Sikh feminism

Feminism and the Sikh religion / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Sikhism was founded in Punjab in 1469 by Guru Nanak on the foundations that everyone is equal, regardless of caste, age, or gender.[1] Both men and women are supposed to follow the Five Ks: Kesh (uncut hair), Kangha (comb), Kara (iron bracelet), Kachera (cotton undergarment) and Kirpan (iron dagger), and there was never a distinction between what a woman should be allowed to do versus a man at theological level. Men and women are treated equally in the temple (gurdwara), and everyone eats and prays side-by-side.[2] Both men and women are meant to carry the Kirpan with them as they are responsible for their own physical protection, and should not depend on others. Sikhs are strictly against the caste system and many chose to use Kaur or Singh as a last name to push against the problematic caste system in India. There is only one god (Waheguru) in Sikhism and they are without form or gender, and everyone is equal in the eyes of God. Many Sikh women believe that this absence of assignment of code of conduct for a woman versus a man proves that their religion is historically committed to gender equality.[3] Presently, the culture does not always follow these traditions and equality is often more true in ideals rather than daily practice.[4] According to Kiman Kaur: "It is essential to take into account the diverse Kaur (Sikh women's) narratives in order to critically understand the violence Sikh womxn experience due to religious, ethnic, and gender minoritization through enabling more intersectional conversations."[5]

In North America the Five Ks are mostly just followed by men; however, many religiously devoted women also choose to commit to Sikh rehni, the Sikh way of life. Many Sikh women also choose to wear a turban as a socio-political move to fight inequality in the religion and show their Sikh essentialism.[3] There are also groups which have been formed by Sikhs, like SAFAR, which are committed to uncovering and challenging oppression within the Sikh community, as well as re-establishing equity in the Sikh culture.[6]

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