Are our Gurdwaras Dysfunctional? – Part III

PART THREE: The Root Causes.  
Karminder Singh Dhillon, PhD (Boston).

There is no denying that the dysfunctionality of our Gurdwaras is deeply entrenched and widespread. 

There can also be no denying that the root causes are varied. Yet any discussion over the causes of the distortion and corruption of Gurdwara roles and functions must begin with those who (mis)manage our Gurdwaras – namely parbhandakhs.

Continue reading “Are our Gurdwaras Dysfunctional? – Part III”

Are our Gurdwaras Dysfunctional – Part II

PART TWO: The Assessment.
Karminder Singh Dhillon, PhD (Boston).

To argue otherwise would amount to an exercise in deception.  

By and large, our gold plated structures, sprawling marble-adorned complexes, modern architectural constructs and beautiful buildings (and even their humble variants) are just that – physical structures that are admirable; are able to attract occasional large passive crowds and chalk up substantial incomes in the form of donations.

 A vast majority of our Gurdwaras do little more than organize weekly diwans that constitute kirtan by professional ragis, akhand path readings by professional pathis, the occasional katha or sermon also by a professional and conclude with the serving of langar.

With few exceptions, these “professionals” are largely disconnected from the sangats they serve and thus oblivious to the spiritual challenges facing their congregations. Their primary motive is to earn a living through their “professional” activities and so long as the sangat “enjoys” their “musical presentations” and gives them sufficient bheta, they are content.   

 A vast majority of our Gurdwaras have no primary function other than acting as a venue for the conduct of Anand Karajs, Antim Ardas and other functions where the sangat has no role other than passive and reciprocal attendance – we go because we fear that if we didn’t, then others will not come to our functions.

Yet the strongest evidence that our Gurdwaras are dysfunctional is that they are steadily emptying out of Generation Y and Z Sikhs; that our youth are become increasingly alienated from our Gurdwaras; and our children are beginning  to disconnect from Sikhi by the hordes.

 The root cause of such dysfunction lies in our wilful neglect of the original and rightful functions of Gurdwaras, as intended by our Gurus.  An assessment of each of these seven functions may be worth conducting.

Continue reading “Are our Gurdwaras Dysfunctional – Part II”

Are our Gurdwaras Dysfunctional? – Part I

PART ONE: The Roles and Functions of a Gurdwara.
Karminder Singh Dhillon, PhD (Boston).

There perhaps is no place on earth where a group of Sikhs reside but have not constructed a Gurdwara. From gold plated structures, sprawling marble-adorned complexes and modern architectural constructs to a variety of humble variants – our Gurdwaras have become the core institution of the Sikh way of life.  

But fair minded Sikhs would agree that constructing magnificent Gurdwaras and THEN ensuring they function in accordance with their intended roles are two starkly different things. 

Thinking Sikhs would also agree that a Gurdwara has to do more than merely organizing Sunday diwans that constitute kirtan by professional ragis, akhand path readings by professional pathis, the occasional katha or sermon also by a professional and conclude with the serving of langar.

 As an institution a Gurdwara has to be more than a place for the conduct of Anand Karajs, Antim Ardas and other functions where the sangat has no role other than staggered,  passive and casual attendance.  

Put plainly, given the investments of money, time and our collective energies that we Sikhs have put into our Gurdwaras, do we get adequate Returns of Investments (ROI) in terms of spiritual, social, and gurmat measures?

This question becomes critical as our Gurdwaras begin to steadily empty out of Generation Y and Z Sikhs; as our youth become increasingly alienated from our Gurdwaras; and as our children begin to disconnect from Sikhi.

The question posed above can only be answered with a full appreciation of the intended roles and functions of our Gurdwaras.

Continue reading “Are our Gurdwaras Dysfunctional? – Part I”