Random thoughts and bits of life of a coffee loving artist

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sikh recognition at Brimingham Museum

While wondering the internet in the wee hours of the morning since I had yet to pull myself from the computer to get a few hours of sleep, I found myself looking through current exhibits in various museums. One exhibit that starts in the new year (January 26th – April 28th, 2013) that caught my eye was titled Sikh Fortress Turban which will be on view at the Brimingham Museum and Art Gallery located in Brimingham, England. On my screen amongst the colors which blurred slightly due to my overly tired eyes was a small entry announcing the coming exhibit.

With knowledge that California has a rather large, close knit Sikh community, I was surprised that there was to be an exhibit on them in the UK. I have to admit that I was a bit jealous as I read the small entry because I would love to actually learn a bit more about perhaps one of the nicest and most patient group of people I have ever met. For those not familiar with those of the Sikh religion, it was started in the 15th century by Guru Nanak. After a lengthy bit of meditation, where he is believed to have received direct revelations from God, he went forth to teach the world that there is one God and that religious divisions are man-made. The term Sikh itself actually means disciple, student or instruction which makes sense when you look a bit deeper into the religion.

Though understated as far as straight out art goes, the beauty that the Sikhs provide can be found simply in the textiles and weapons they wear along with the people themselves. Perhaps one of their most recognizable trademarks is the turbans that the men wear which, depending on their status within the religion, signifies their level. One wonderful capture of a Sikh follower by one of the photographers on deviantArt is perhaps by SukhRiar.deviantart.com (India). In his picture Nihang, he states in the description:

"Nihang" by SukhRiar
In this picture you are seeing Sikh Nihang (Sikh Warrior), worship to Waheguru (God). They wear approximately 20m to 30m clothe turban.

Sikh warriors known for their bravery, courage and power. They saved their religion by sacrifice their lives.

The word Nihang means crocodile and was introduced into the Punjabi language from Persian. The term owes its origin to the Mughal historians who noticed that these brave armed-monks fought ferociously like crocodiles. Traditionally known for their bravery and ruthlessness in the battlefield, the Nihang once formed the guerilla squads of the armed forces of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

The Nihang were also known as Akali. This term is said to be derived from the Akaal Purukh in Punjabi - "the Timeless One", a term for God. Thus Akali translates as "Servitor of the Timeless God". This also symbolises the Akali as the immortals or the timeless warriors.

Read more about them: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nihang

"nihang Sikh" by drkingsks
Another beautiful picture as an example of the turbans worn by some of the higher ranking individuals is by drkingks.deviantart.com with his piece nihang Sikh

I know that here in California, we often have cultural festivals put on by the Sikh community which includes their Festival of Lights calledDiwali. SFGate, the online version of the San Francisco Chronicle which covers news and other things within the San Francisco Bay Area just posted this morning an article titled Diwali, The Festival of Lights covering the festival which just occurred last month. For those who are interested in finding out a little more about the calender of holidays should check out the Sikh calender of festivals. Also don't be afraid of checking online to see if there are any events within your area that you could attend. 

So to those who are in the UK or are planning on visiting the area and are interested in checking out the exhibit this next year, here is the information for the Brimingham Museum and Art Gallery:

Brimingham Museum & Art Gallery
Chamberlain Square, Birmingham, B3 3DH
Tel: +44 (0)121 303 1966
Entry: Free entrance. Some exhibitions and events may charge.
Opening Times:
Monday - Thursday 10am - 5pm
Friday 10.30am - 5pm
Sat 10am - 5pm
Sunday 12.30pm - 5pm

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