January 16 – Magh Mela in India

Posted on January 16, 2014

One of the most important gatherings of the Sikhs is happening this week. Called Mela Maghi, the fair honors the memory of forty Sikh warriors killed in battle in 1705.
It sounds to me more like a county fair than like a religious gathering. There are merchants hawking their wares with displays of everything from costume jewelry and knickknacks to high-end electronics and tractors. The two biggest circuses set up their tents, and there are rides for the kids. There are sideshows such as the Wall of Death, where people ride motorcycles along the vertical wall of a wooden cylinder, and perform stunts as well.

However, on this un-narrated YouTube video of the fair, I definitely heard some singing and chanting that could have been religious in nature, and I saw people putting offerings on a shrine. I wonder if the people beating shoes onto the ground were participating in a religious ceremony of some sort?
I read that 99% of all U.S. men who wear
turbans are Sikhs. But I bet most of them
are often assumed to be Muslim.
I bought my very first computer, waaaaayyyy back in the late 1970s, from a man who had a full beard and who wore a turban on his head and a small, curved blade (kirpan) in his belt. Those characteristics told me that this man practiced Sikhism, which is said to be the fifth largest religion in the world.
Because sikhs are required
to carry their kirpans at all times,
there have been debates about
whether or not kirpans should
be allowed in public places
where other weapons are not.
Sikhism is also one of the youngest of the major religions, since its founder lived from 1469 to 1539. Some of the core beliefs include that there is one god, that men and women are equal and have the same rights and responsibilities, and that honesty and giving to the needy are some of the most important virtues. Although Sikhism arose in India, Sikhs don't believe in the caste system (a system in which rigid social classes are determined by heredity) that was prevalent in Hindu thought.
Find out more about Sikhism here.

Also on this date:

Religious Freedom Day 

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