Date: 9/7/2005


Sikh Council on Religion and Education (SCORE)/// 2446 Reddie Dr, Suite 14, Silver Spring, MD-20902 /// Phone: 301-946-2800, 202 460 0630/// SCORE Email: score@sikhcouncilusa.org /// Website: www.Sikhcouncilusa.org /// Press Release /// For Immediate Release /// American Sikhs support the inclusion of women in Punj Pyaras, a recent move by SGPC President. /// Washington, September 4, 2005: U. S. Sikhs applauded the recent step by Shromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) President Jagir Kaur to include Women in the Panj Pyaras for the Amrit ceremony, a ceremony inducting Sikhs in the Khalsa way of life. They questioned the validity of arguments of some that are opposing this move recently in Punjab. They appealed to the Jathedars of the Takhats to take the step further and to put the seal of approval on the decisions of the SGPC in regards to this issue. They also stated that there could be no compromises on certain fundamental issues./// In a joint statement, released by Dr. Rajwant Singh, National Chairman, Sikh Council on Religion and Education (SCORE), and Ms. Amrit Kaur, Secretary of Guru Gobind Singh Foundation (GGSF), USA, commended the firm stand of Bibi Jagir Kaur, President, SGPC, to increase the participation of the Sikh women in the Amrit ceremony and all forms of Sewa (service) in Darbar Sahib(the Golden Temple) including Kirtan. Both SCORE and GGSF are based in Washington and are active in representing Sikh issues in many national and international forums. /// Dr Rajwant Singh said, “Opposing women’s role in any religious and spiritual setting is really a negation of Sikh values of equality and equity. Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, himself had emphatically opposed any discrimination against women and it is disastrous to see that the people who follow the same Guru would oppose women’s ascension in spiritual matters. People who oppose women’s role in the Panj pyaras or any kind of sewa do not know what they are talking about. We are totally astonished that people who have served in top positions would even question the Rehat Maryada of Akal Takhat which is the guiding principle on such matters." /// Dr Singh appealed that we must not politicize this important issue."You may not like Jagir Kaur or you might have been offended by her in the past but there is no reason that this issue be tied to her personally. It is the central theme of our faith" Dr. Singh added. /// He further added, “Gender equality is the central base on which the foundations of the Sikh society have been built and it is only due to this feature of Sikhism that the Sikhs have been grounded firmly in the democratic culture of freedom and justice. No society can show the way if it denies the women its deserving role. Expressing any negativity towards this gender is basically rolling back the progress of Sikh society and the contributions it has made in the last five hundred years since its inception in the Indian subcontinent. Even the world bodies like UN acknowledges that women has to be given equal decision making power in society if we were to create a better world” /// Dr Singh further declared, “The logic that people have given that since all the pyaras who stood in response to Guru Gobind Singh ji’s call in 1699 were men, that means that Panj pyaras have to be males for all times to come, is the most ridiculous argument. First of all the pyaras stood for their own sense of sacrifice and it was their own personal expression of love for the Guru. They were not representing any member of their family or the gender they belong to. They did not represent all the males to come in the future.” /// Dr. Singh further added, “We strongly appeal to the Akal Takhat, SGPC and all the other religious bodies to give the full rights to women . It is high time that we show to the entire world and especially our younger generations that Sikh leadership is truly progressive. So we can show that we are true to our beliefs and we fully implemented Guru Nanak’s vision of equality in true sense.” /// Amrit Kaur said, “It is amazing to see that former Jathedars and other Sikh Leaders are opposing this resolution to allow women to do Kirtan in Darbar Sahib and their inclusion in Panj Pyaras on the basis of tradition of the Darbar Sahib or what has happened in the past. What right do they have to distort the fundamentals of the Faith for sake of tradition? The Tradition is nothing else but practice over the period of time. What is significant is the Principle and that should not be violated. If this new practice of allowing women is initiated it will become a tradition over the years. Of course SGPC can set guidelines for women also and adhere to them. No one is seeking for any concession there. Bibi Jagir Kaur has shown real courage and has proved her mettle. We support her efforts in restoration of the innate principle of Equality the basis of Sikhism. /// Amrit Kaur also expressed, “We also appeal to Sikh Leadership who is in opposition to this move to gracefully concede to this request and incorporate women in all forms of Sewa because surge of enthusiasm among women can not be subsided any longer. Because it is not a phase that will pass but their (women’s) right was bestowed upon them by the Gurus themselves.” /// “Historically, Sikh women have performed great deal of service since the times of the Sikh Gurus. Who has not heard the chivalrous tale of Mai Bhago who charged up the disappointed men who had forsaken Guru Gobind Singh to fight for justice. She was the stuff the legends are made of. Who can undermine the sweet contribution of Mata Sundri while administering Amrit to Panj Pyaras, a ceremony that revitalized a nation that was in comatose and infused a new life in it. And countless other instances can be enumerated where women have rightfully proven that they are second to none. /// SCORE works with the White House and many governmental bodies representing the Sikh interests in Washington. GGSF represents Sikhism in many national and international bodies and it also runs many Sikh youth programs in the nation’s capital. In the past, it has worked closely with the Sikh religious leaders in Amritsar on many issues. /// ............................000000000