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The Making of a New Sikh Ritual

Major Singh Thind is a member of the moderate group re-elected for a three-year term during the Khalsa Diwan Society (8000 Ross Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada) elections held on December 18, 2004. Thind was re-elected for the third term as recording secretary alongwith Gurdip Singh Gill (of Hoshiarpur) as president.

Sikh-Diaspora (Yahoo! Groups), Vancouver, Feb. 5, 2005

Photo: Khalsa Diwan Society, 8000 Ross Street, Vancouver, B.C., Canada

I have recently witnessed the making of a new Sikh ritual in the U.K.

My phupha (aunt's husband), who lived in the Bexley (Kent) area, passed away on January 18, 2005. I went to attend his funeral. My cousins had decided that the body will be taken directly to the funeral home without a stop over at the local gurdwara. To my surprise, the gurdwara management team asked us to take a rumala (small pieces of cloth used to cover the Guru Granth) to cover the body. I was told that when the body of a deceased arrives at the gurdwara it is covered by a rumala to be burnt along with the body.

I discussed the above with my family. My cousins asked me to tell the gurdwara officials that we don't want to cover the body with a rumala as it is not a requirement in our religion. There is nothing in the Sikh Rehat Maryada (code of conduct) about this tradition. I was told that they have a surplus of rumalas and this is the best way to get rid of them. I told the management team about our decision - that, we feel, it is disrespectful to our Guru to cover a dead body with our Guru's poshak (clothing) - and told them to hold a funeral with respect for the surplus rumalas in the gurdwara backyard.