SAFAR’s Online Book Club

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In celebration of Vaisakhi, the Sikh feminist Research Institute – SAFAR, is launching its inaugural online book club with the book “The Birth of the Khalsa: A Feminist Re-Memory of the Sikh Identity” by Dr. Nikky Guninder Kaur Singh.

The book club will seek to bring together an online space to read, reflect and discuss the revolution of the Vasaikhi of 1699 -when the first Khande di Pahul ceremony took place; the radically emancipatory nature of the institution of the Khalsa Panth; and its continued implications on liberation, equity, gender, social justice and humanity, through a Sikh Feminist perspective.

  • Our first meeting will take place on the evening of May 15.
  • The book club reading will be divided into three parts. 
  • For the last reading of the club, we will have the honour of the author and SAFAR’s Advisory Board member,
    Dr. Nikky Guninder Kaur Singh, attend.
  • Timezone and further book club dates are to be determined based on registrants.
  • Open to All!
  • Registration is limited. Sign Up Today!
  • SAFAR’s Online Book Club WAIT LIST IS Now OPEN!
    Due to an overwhelmingly exciting response, registration is now FULL for SAFAR’s first book, but a Wait List has been started!

    Please let us know if you are interested and we will try to accommodate as many as possible!

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Access the Full Book Online HERE!

Book Synopsis

Sikhs trace the genesis of their religious rites, prayers, dress codes, and names to Guru Gobind Singh’s creation of the Khalsa in 1699. The Birth of the Khalsa is the first work to explore this pivotal event in Sikh history from a feminist perspective, questioning the ways in which Sikh memories have constructed a hypermasculine Sikh identity. The book argues that Sikh memory needs to acknowledge the vital female dimension grounded in the universal human condition and present at the birth of the Khalsa.
Inspired by her own father, the eminent Sikh scholar Harbans Singh, Nikky-Guninder Kaur Singh rediscovers the feminine side of the words and actions of the founders of Sikhism. She looks at the basic texts and tenets of Sikh religion and demonstrates the female aspect in the sacred text, daily prayers, dress code, and rituals of the Sikhs. Singh innovatively reminds us that Guru Gobind Singh’s original vision was an egalitarian one and urges present-day Sikhs to live up to the liberating implications set in motion when he gave birth to the Khalsa.

“The author’s feminist critique of ‘malestream Sikh scholarship’ is so bold that it deconstructs and displaces conventional interpretations of the institution of the Khalsa and is a major departure from traditional Sikh understanding. The author raises important questions about the disparity between the Sikh doctrine of gender equality and the dominance of patriarchal institutional structures. It is likely to generate a lively debate within the Sikh community.” — Pashaura Singh, author of The Bhagats of the Guru Granth Sahib: Sikh Self-Definition and the Bhagat Bani

“In the process of providing ‘feminist’ insights, Singh brings to the fore historical data that is often ignored or devalued. This is a unique work: the author’s conclusions are fresh, and clearly challenge former interpretations of these events.” — Robert N. Minor, author of The Religious, the Spiritual, and the Secular: Auroville and Secular India

In the Department of Religious Studies at Colby College, Nikky-Guninder Kaur Singh is Chair and Crawford Family Professor of Religious Studies. She is the author of several books, including The Feminine Principle in the Sikh Vision of the Transcendent.