Origin of the Sikh Khalsa

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Indian
Age: 22
Occupation: Student
Residence: Los Angeles
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/29/14
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Text:

“By the time the tenth guru came around, he created the a Khalsa (the body of Sikhs) And they wanted to create a definitive group that would help identify to others who the Sihks were. It’s never been done before because of the caste system. They wanted a shared identity to help them bond. So the 10th guru had this celebration of prayers and hymns being sung. Then guru said that “you guys are all very dear to me” but I need someone to sacrifice themselves. One of them volunteered, so the guru took him into a tent. After a while, he came out with a bloody knife and asked for one more. This happened 3 more times, so 4 others were offered as sacrifice. All five of them and the guru then came out of the tent dressed in navy blue and orange, and the guru called them panj pyare (“five loved ones”). He declared that they were the first members of the khalsa. That day he declared that all have males will have the same last name- Singh (male lion), and all females will be the last name Kaur (female lion). He also created a baptism ceremony where you drink out of amrit, a vessel with holy water that’s blessed by gurus.”

Background:

My informant heard this story from both his grandmas. He likes it because it shows the devotion that people have for his faith. It makes him feel that it’s something you do with a full heart. The fact that they were willing to give their heads for the guru was an ultimate devotion to their gurus. This resonates with him because he believes that if he cares about a certain goal, he’s not going to “half-ass” it. For example, a lot of cousins will shave their beards and trim their hair, which is a forbidden thing in the Sikh religion, but my informant says that if he’s going to believe in it, he’s going to do it all out. A lot of these stories talk about hard work and discipline, which are values that he carries over to his school and work life too.

Context: 

This story is commonly passed down through families, as well as Sunday Schools for Sikhs.

Personal Thoughts:

I think it’s interesting that Sikhism is the only religion that requires it’s followers not to cut their hair. I asked my informant the reasoning behind this, and he said that it’s because they believe that hair is a gift from God, and even after you cut it, it grows, showing that it’s a natural thing. So cutting it is a sign of disrespect. From the information that I gathered from my informant, I can see that respect and devotion are important values int he Sikh religion.