Wednesday, 16 January 2013

‘The Living Guru – The Holy Sikh Scripture’, New Walk Museum, with Kamalroop Singh

Guru Granth Sahib Lecture Part 1

A highly decorated manuscript, in the Kashmiri style, from 1775 AD. This folio shows the garland of musical measure, the rag mala, the closing section of the Guru Granth Sahib.

The New Walk Museum, Leicester as part of the “300 sal” (three hundred year) celebrations is facilitating a number of lectures focussing on the Guru Granth Sahib. The Museum is the only one in the country which has dedicated a Sikh exhibition to commemorate this auspicious occasion. The first in the series of these lectures to be undertaken was on Tuesday 14 October.

The lecture was undertaken by Kamalroop Singh, Phd candidate from Birmingham University. His lecture was initially intended to be a introduction on the Guru Granth Sahib but due to his knowledge on Sikh manuscripts he ventured into highly detailed descriptions of how the transmission of the Guru Granth Sahib had taken place.
The lecture commenced with an explanation of how and what “Ik Oankar" means, there was a detailed analysis of how these important words were the cornerstone of the Sikh scripture. Following this were many images of how the Guru Arjun Dev and Baba Buddha prepared the pothi sahib. The importance of Gurudwara Ramsar was also alluded to. A brief mention was made as to how the Guru Gadi (guruship) was given to the Guru Granth Sahib and how Nanded was the resting place of the Tenth Guru and the Guru Granth Sahib.
There were a number of manuscripts which were discussed including an early recension of the Guru Granth Sahib at Patna with the daskhat (signature) of Guru Gobind Singh, a rare manuscript from Damadama School, as well as the Kirtarpuri bir. A very interesting bir (manuscript) of the Guru Granth Sahib was also discussed which was given to a muslim pir (holy man), Buddhu Shah, the sons of which were sacrificed in battle to defend freedom.

The Guru Granth Sahib that was given to Pir Buddha Shah by Guru Gobind Singh.
The lecture was enhanced with video footage of the parkash ceremony, that is, how the Guru Granth Sahib ceremoniously opened every morning at the Harimandir Sahib or Golden Temple. Further footage was shown as to how the Guru Granth Sahib is laid to rest after recitation. A very interesting and personal take of the lecture was the description and serenity of the Ber Baba Buddha Ji (tree) where Kamalroop Singh explained how the birds within the trees looked like bulbs on a tree, hence the notion that the effect of Gurbani within the precincts of the Harimandir was spiritual to humans and animals alike.
The participants asked some very interesting questions including: Why was Mira Bhai bani included in some recensions of the Guru Granth Sahib? Why compositions from woman were not included in the Guru Granth Sahib? Kamalroop gave some very informed answers to these questions. One question that was asked was related to the sanctity of the Guru Granth Sahib, the scholar befittingly explained how the  Guru Granth Sahib was the sole guru of the Sikhs and how it was the only scripture in world religions to have been written and compiled by the founders of the religion.
In the end, the lecture turned more into a general discussion related as to the how the Sikh scripture are important to the Sikhs, this was good for the public as it then became more informal and allowed several points to be raised about how lectures of this type should be facilitated within the country.
The next lecture will be focusing specifically on Guru Granth Sahib Manuscripts and how literacy for the Sikhs was promoted: Leicester City Council website
More information on the Sikh exhibition: See PHN story


Unless otherwise mentioned, all events take place at New Walk Museum & Art Gallery. For bookings, telephone 0116 225 4920.

Sikh Objects Explored
Wednesday 1st October
2.00pm – 3.00pm
Handling session of Sikh objects relating to the exhibition ‘The Living Guru – The Holy Sikh Scripture’. Sharing your stories
about these types of objects is always welcomed. Places limited, advanced booking advised. Not suitable for children. £1.70 for activities.

Sikh Exhibition Tour & Visit to Gurdwara
Saturday 4th October, 22nd November & 6th December
2.00pm – 4.00pm
Take a guided tour of the ‘The Living Guru – the Holy Sikh Scripture’ exhibition and visit a local Gurdwara (Sikh temple). Less suitable for younger children. £2.70 for activities.
New Walk Museum Talk: The Living Guru (part 1)
Tuesday 14th October, 12.30pm – 1.30pm
Introduction to the exhibition, ‘The Living Guru – The Holy Sikh Scripture’, with Kamalroop Singh, specialist on Sikh religion, PhD candidate, University of Birmingham. All are welcome, though the talk is less suitable for children.  £2.70 for activities.

Sikh Instruments
Sunday 19th October
11.00am – 4.00pm
Try out different Indian instruments similar to those on display in the exhibition ‘The Living Guru – The Holy Sikh Scripture’ under guidance of professional musicians. 
£1.70 for activities.

Celebrating Sikh Heritage
Saturday 1st November
11.00am - 1.00pm, 1.30pm - 4.30pm
Enjoy the richness of Sikh heritage including workshops and demonstrations such as turban tying, making chapattis and sampling Punjabi food. Suitable for all ages. 
New Walk Museum Talk: The Living Guru (part 2)
Tuesday 4th November
12.30pm – 1.30pm 
Sikh manuscripts and the development of literacy. With Gurinder Mann,
Leicester - based Sikh historian. All are welcome, though the talk is less suitable for children. £2.70 for activities.
New Walk Museum Talk: The Living Guru (part 3)
Tuesday 18th November
12.30pm – 1.30pm 
The evolution of Sikh music. With Professor Surinder Singh, Saranda musician and Director and founder of the Raj Academy. All are welcome, though the talk is less suitable for children. £2.70 for activities.

Saturday 29th November, 5.00pm – 7.00pm
A concert of ancient Sikh music played on forgotten instruments. Musicians of the Raj Academy, London, will play and explain this musical tradition. Less suitable for young children. £4.00 for activities.

New Walk Museum Talk: The Living Guru (part 4)
Tuesday 2nd December, 12.30pm – 1.30pm
The role of the Holy Sikh Scripture in Sikh life-ceremonies and festivals. With Harleen Kaur, secondary science teacher and Mandeep S. Sehmi, PhD candidate at the University of Birmingham. All are welcome, though the talk is less suitable for children.  £2.70 for activities


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