Nagar Kirtan and Sikhi

Karminder Singh Dhillon,
PhD (Boston), Kuala Lumpur.

Nagar Kirtan (literally: neighbourhod kirtan) has over the past few decades become standard fare for Gurpurabs. As more and more gurdwaras rush to jump on the bandwagon of taking the Guru Granth Sahib (and accompanying kirtaneas) on a display ride on the streets of their townships, and as more and more sangats compete to make their processions larger, longer, grander, and more entertaining, it may be worth weighing this concept from the point of view of Gurmat and Gurbanee.  What are we trying to achieve? What, if any are the tangible benefits of the investment of time, money and energy into this moving exhibition of our Guru, the broadcasting of kirtan onto the streets of the city’s commercial districts, and the display of our accompanying sangat at popular/ tourist designated places? Is this “parchar” in form only and devoid of substance? And most important, what, if any is the spiritual basis of this “kirtan on wheels” practice? Have Sikh leaders in general and gurdwara  parbhandaks in particular become so debased in Gurmat that it does not matter anymore so long as they latch on to the latest trend, satisfy the entertainment needs of their sangats, and contribute to their local council’s hunger to create events for their tourists? 

This article attempts to discuss the above questions and related issues.
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