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Gurdwara Sahib Stockton: The Sikh Temple is a sanctuary of Peace and reminder of Home

The first Gurdwara in the U.S. was built in 1912 when a lot of Sikhs came to settle down in the sun-drenched Central Valley, which closely resembled their ancestral land of Punjab

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Amarjit Singh in front of Gurdwara Sahib Stockton.
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  • The Gurdwara Sahib Stockton in Stockton was built by the Sikhs who had settled in America, over 100 years ago
  • According to Amarjit Singh, the Sikhs build a Gurudwara wherever they settle in the world and that is their way to keep in touch with their culture, not only their religion
  • The Gurudwara at Stockton still remains vibrant with Sikhs and visitors from all over America, even after so many years

A number of Sikhs have been living in the United States of America for 125 years, now. Currently, their population in the U.S. is 700,000.  Amarjit Singh, a U.S. based Sikh and an ex-President of the committee of Gurdwara Sahib Stockton, said that wherever there are Sikhs, there must be a Gurdwara. He further asserted that it is not only because it is a place for their religious worship but it is a part and parcel of their culture which holds the entire community together.

The Sikhs can still be recognized in the U.S. in spite of having completely adjusted to the life there. The symbols that help them to keep in touch with their origin are the steel kara around their wrist, the turban, the kirpan and their uncut hair.

Vaisakhi Day Parade. Image Source : sikhism.about.com
Vaisakhi Day Parade. Image Source : sikhism.about.com

The Gurdwara Sahib Stockton in Stockton, U.S. was built over 100 years ago. Even now it serves as a place of religious, cultural and social meetings for the Sikhs near the area. Recently, it had a number of people coming in and preparing for the 18th annual Vaisakhi Day Parade. It is said that the parade to commemorate the establishment of Khalsa by Guru Govind Singh has over a thousand pilgrims joining in. The pilgrims sing songs of praise as the procession moves through the way.

The temple, a long time ago. Image Source : pbs.org
The temple, a long time ago. Image Source : pbs.org

The first Gurdwara in the U.S. was built in 1912 when a lot of Sikhs came to settle down in the sun-drenched Central Valley, which closely resembled their ancestral land of Punjab. However, at first the Gurdwara was built with wood in Holt, west of Stockton but the committee members could not afford the land. So, they shifted to build the temple at Stockton itself.

Inside the temple. Image Source : gurdwaar.com
Inside the temple. Image Source : gurdwaar.com

Today, the Gurdwara Sahib Stockton at 1930 S. Sikh Temple Street, remains open to all visitors, even the non-religious ones. It is a two-storied building with a beautiful chandeliered ceiling. They do not have any chairs or special sitting arrangements. The Sikhs, there, are very accommodating and ever so ready to share their food and culture with others. Their only request to anybody entering the temple is that they keep their shoes outside and cover their heads. Whoever is interested in getting a meal can get a taste of the ethnic Sikh cuisine at the Gurdwara, for free.

Even after so many years, the Sikhs in the U.S. have evidently kept in touch with their roots through the Gurdwara that their ancestors had built. Singh said to the Recordnet.com that the temple “is part of our life.”

-by Atreyee Sengupta, an intern at NewsGram.

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  • AJ Krish

    Even after living abroad for so many years, they have kept in touch with their roots through the Gurdwara that their ancestors had built. That shows that they are proud of their identity as Sikhs.

  • Aparna Gupta

    This shows how we are connected to our religion. Religion is must for everyone in India. The Gurdwara was built to present their religion and now they are celebrating all festivals in that Gurdwra.

  • AJ Krish

    Even after living abroad for so many years, they have kept in touch with their roots through the Gurdwara that their ancestors had built. That shows that they are proud of their identity as Sikhs.

  • Aparna Gupta

    This shows how we are connected to our religion. Religion is must for everyone in India. The Gurdwara was built to present their religion and now they are celebrating all festivals in that Gurdwra.

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10 Facts about Madhubani Paintings which will blow your mind

Recently, Madhubani painting style came into limelight after some artists decided to renovate the Madhubani Railway Station by painting a huge Madhubani painting on the walls of the railway station.

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A Madhubani Painting in black and white. Wikimedia Commons
A Madhubani Painting in black and white. Wikimedia Commons

Madhubani Paintings, also known as Mithila Paintings are the quintessence folk art form of Mithila Region of Bihar. The art form is incredibly old and the name ‘Madhubani’ which means, ‘forest of honey,’ has a lineage of more than 2500 years.These paintings are the local art of Madhubani district of Bihar, which is also the biggest exporter of Madhubani paintings in India.

Recently, Madhubani painting style came into limelight after some artists decided to renovate the Madhubani Railway Station by painting a huge Madhubani painting on the walls of the railway station. The painting spans across an area of 7000 square feet and is expected to attract tourism to the Madhubani District. Madhubani art has received international and national attention in recent times.

Paintings and art are a reflection of the culture and tradition of the place from where they originate. Madhubani paintings are an important part of the Indian Culture. Madhubani painting in black and white are some of the oldest and most beautiful art that people can witness and admire. The style, which was losing its importance earlier is once again emerging as a major art form.

A modern representation of Madhubani art form. Wikimedia Common
A modern representation of Madhubani art form. Wikimedia Common

Here are 10 facts about Madhubani paintings which will blow your mind :

  • The history of Madhubani paintings dates back to the days of Ramayana. The history of Madhubani paintings dates back to the time of Ramayana when king Janaka asked an artist to capture the wedding of his daughter Sita with prince Rama. He commissioned craftsmen to decorate the entire kingdom with Madhubani art on the auspicious occasion of his daughter’s marriage. That’s one of the earliest mentions of Madhubani paintings that can be found in ancient scriptures and text.
  • Madhubani Paintings have 5 distinct styles to delight our eyes. Madhubani art has five distinctive styles, namely, Bharni, Katchni, Tantrik, Godna, and Kohbar. In ancient times, Bharni, Kachni and Tantrik style were done by Brahman and Kayastha women, who were considered ‘upper caste.’ Their themes were mainly religious and depicted Gods and Goddesses, flora and fauna. People belonging to lower castes including aspects of their daily life and symbols into their paintings.Nowadays, however, Madhubani has become a globalised art form. There is no difference in the work of different artists of different regions or castes.
  • Madhubani paintings are done using different kinds of everyday materials. In past, Madhubani painting was done using fingers, twigs. Now, matchsticks and pen nibs are also used. Usually, bright colours are used in these paintings with an outline made from rice paste as its framework. These paintings rarely have any blank spaces. Borders are often embellished with geometric and floral patterns. These paintings use natural dyes. For example, Madhubani paintings in black and white often use charcoal and soot for the black colour.
A Madhubani Paintings can be made using different materials on different mediums. Wikimedia Commons
A Madhubani Paintings can be made using different materials on different mediums. Wikimedia Commons
  • Madhubani art is characterised by symbols and figures. Madhubani paintings are characterised by figures that are prominently outlined, like bulging fish-like eyes and pointed noses. The themes of Madhubani paintings usually include natural elements like fish, birds, animals, turtle, sun, moon, bamboo trees and flowers, like a lotus. Love, valour, devotion, fertility, and prosperity are often symbolized by geometric patterns, which is another important feature of this art form.
  • From Mud-Walls to Canvas. Earlier, Madhubani paintings were made by women on freshly plastered mud-walls of their houses during religious occasions. The skill has been passed onto from one generation to another. Today, this artwork can be found on an international platform on mediums like cloth, paper, canvas, paper-mache products, etc.
  • Discovered and brought to attention by William G. Archer. Madhubani paintings, though prominent in India, were unknown to the outside world until a colonizer, William G. Archer found them. While he was inspecting the damage after the massive earthquake of  Bihar in 1934, Archer was amazed when he discovered the beautiful illustrations on the interior walls of the huts. He decided to bring the attention of other colonizers to this art form and introduced it internationally.

    Madhubani paintings are made without sketches. Wikimedia Common
    Madhubani paintings are made without sketches. Wikimedia Common
  • Madhubani is an Instinctive Art Form. Madhubani art is created without the use of sketches, they are made instinctively by the artists. This feature not only makes Madhubani paintings unique but also incredibly exclusive.
  • Madhubani painting also prevents Deforestation. Surprised? This folk art is not just mere decorations on the wall, it is also used for worship. Artists in Bihar draw paintings depicting Hindu deities on trees and those who hold strong religious beliefs, prevent others from chopping those trees down. This plays a big role in preventing trees from being cut down.
  • The Connection with Feng shui. Madhubani paintings use symbols and geometric figures which have a strong association with the Feng Shui philosophy. The use of flowers, especially the lotus, birds,  fishes, and turtles which we find in Madhubani paintings, are closely linked to the concept of divinity and spirituality in Feng Shui. Madhubani painting is believed to bring with them, the benefits of Feng Shui as well.

    Madhubani painting rarely has any spaces. Wikimedia Common
    Madhubani paintings rarely have any empty spaces. Wikimedia Common
  • The Importance of Sun in Madhubani. Since ancient times, the sun has always been an important symbol of nature worship. The Sun also occupies such an important place in the Madhubani paintings. There are paintings wholly dedicated to the Sun, in which it can be seen painted in different moods and colours. Every Madhubani home has one painting of the Sun which they worship daily.