How do ensure democracy in Gurdwaras

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Re: How do ensure democracy in Gurdwaras

Post by ImperfectSikh »

UPSingh wrote:Dear Readers,

Gur Fateh.

More and more Gurdwara mangements are becoming authoritative and autocratic especially in the USA and in Canada. i am not aware of the situation in other countries, but based on media news and newspaper reports, the situation in India is even worse.

In Canada except for a few, most Gurdwaras are private although they have charitable institution tax numbers etc. The commitees are made up those who founded the Gurdwaras and put up the initial cash. When these founders become old, their children take over as in the case of private ownership. No elections are held and no public or sangat input is considered welcome. In some Gurdwaras they have a group of trustees (Panj Pyaras) that appoints the commitee to run the day to day affairs. They only accept your cash and they decide to represent the Sikhs in the media and at ceremonial events. These owners have their own agenda and understanding of what makes a good Sikh and they decide what is practiced as Sikhi in their private Gurdwara.

We live in Year 2010 and surely there must be a way to make these gurdwaras answerable to the Sangat of the city or municipality where they are situated. In fightig results in expensive and long drawn out legal fights which are paid for by Sangat money but the Sangat has no say.

Is there a way that this registration of societies which results in private ownership can be prevented? Are Gurdwaras supposed to be private. I feel every Sikh should make sure that they do not go to Gurdwaras which refuse to hold annual elections where sangat are invited to vote. Any views on this ??

Sat Sri Akaal,

My first impulse is - throw the bums out and make it completely democratic.

Then I pause and look at an aspect I did not consider initially. Unlike the leader of a private enterprise (who may be elected by the shareholders), or the leader of a country (who is voted), the leadership of a religious institution has to offer a much greater amount of moral direction and example (this, btw., is a sad commentary on the state of affairs in business and in politics).

So, if a faith in deep crisis (like ours) were to really implement a democratic system, what would it lead to ? Granthis in India who encourage "honor" killings ? Or granthis in US who shave, drink a lot of alcohol and fraternize with the opposite gender indiscriminately ? Or granthis in the UK, who may be members of gangs ?

Don't get me wrong. I think that most granthis here in the US need some major improvement (a strong command of, and desire to, converse and preach in English would be a start), but I do not think simple democracy is going to lead to results that you may want down the road.

This is not an argument about the relative merits of a democratic as opposed to a more hierarchical / meritocratic system. It is a commentary on how shallow the roots of Sikhi really are in the sangat at large. Imagine if Ms. Nikki Randhawa had been elected as an office bearer for a Gurudwara in South Carolina prior to her conversion. What do you think the psychological and moral effect of her conversion would have been on the local Sikh community (besieged as it is) ?

Though democracy is the system that Sikhism is best suited to, I doubt that the current state of the congregation is conducive to it. So, when is a good time for this ? My guess is that the right time for it would be when the Punjabi demographic stranglehold on Sikhi is loosened or destroyed, since so many of our current ills (mortal in many cases) arise from the (IMO) braindead and needless conflation of Sikh religion with Punjabi culture.

So, a vote for the Singapore model of development from me. The only question is - is there a Mr. Lee on the horizon ?
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