Warwick Sikh Society: A Review
Expressing religious views as a scientist can feel quite awkward. Being on Twitter, I have seen the bio’s of many scientists proudly sharing they are athiests but not many religious ones.
Although no one ever said that a chemist cannot be religious, I have rarely seen religious scientists. But, it might just be that people are not religious and this has nothing to do with the course they’re studying. I don’t know but once I discussed with an academic that I am a Sikh and a scientist and expressed how I feel rather left out at times. The academic turned around and said that whilst they themselves aren’t religious, there shouldn’t be a feeling of finding oneself left out. You can be religious and be a great scientist (obviously) and that he himself studied with a Sikh!
Then, a few weeks ago I came across a pitch for an article on the SciTech Facebook group about how Twitter users aren’t being true to themselves. I wrote that article up (which you can read here) and my article is not just a bunch of stories put together but actual research from the Warwick’s department of Sociology. I don’t know about others but I certainly have thought about my use of Twitter after writing this article and how I am going to begin sharing what I care about a lot more and not care about anything / anyone else.
The above three paragraphs were just the blurb haha. As I become close with societies, I like to write reviews about them. In the past, I have written about the Warwick Bhangra society and The Boar and this one is going to be about the Warwick Sikh Society.
Moving away from home doesn’t just mean missing out on mum’s food, the washing that gets done, the cleaning that gets done and so on. It is also an environment you leave behind and for me, it is the environment of being in a Sikh household. Parents at home tend to discuss religious things, organise sudden visits to the Gurudwara (Sikh Temple) or something simple like putting on the Sikh Channel. All this I miss out on, being on campus, where I tend to mainly discuss chemistry, my only visits are to lib floor 2 and the only thing I watch is TED Talks.
Sikh society has been an excellent place for me to meet up with other Sikhs and get a similar environment to home to befriend people and be able to have conversations about Sikhism in a safe environment where you feel comfortable about being yourself and can ask questions and get many answered and sometimes find yourself even more confused about things.
Warwick Sikh Society organises Kirtan sessions every Tuesday 5:30–7pm where many Sikh students on campus do Kirtan (singing Sikh scriptures using instruments; the Sikh scriptures are all poetry) in the Chaplaincy. It is such a nice evening where you get to meet up with friends and sit down and enjoy the time. Usually, the exec puts the slides up with translations so we understand what we are reading/ singing and hopefully be able to implement the messages in our lives.
Secondly, they have talks every fortnight (I think). I missed their last one but I went to their first one of this year. Last year I went to most of the talks and really enjoyed them. We have speakers coming over speaking to us about different topics ranging from ‘The Basics of Sikhism’ to ‘Life after Death’ (yes, it can get quite deep). I have to be honest, I never take the words of the speakers as Gospel partly because I don’t like it when their words aren’t backed up with quotations and partly because as a 19 year old Sikh, I feel like I know the basics enough to be able to say "I don’t agree". But talks only become fruitful and help you grow if you do a bit of the thinking yourself as opposed to only absorb whatever someone says to you. Nevertheless, I find that over the year these talks have helped me understand the origins of my own faith and what I truly believe in a lot more. I have been able to think about a lot more of the topics that I didn’t before and my belief and perception of Sikhism has certainly developed.
The Sikh society also organises Seva (selfless service) days where they give food to the homeless. These donations are collected from the Gurudwara where you can go and get free food (anyone can, without having to take part in any religious ceremonies). I have not personally been because I am scared of getting a bus in Coventry; they don’t have Oyster cards here! But one of my friends went to (one of) these sessions and apparently loved it (for obvious reasons). Such service would give inner peace and joy to anyone.
Finally, the collaborations. So, last year, Sikh society had an event with CathSoc where they did their talk on ‘What is Sikhism‘ followed by Kirtan to give people a flavour of our religious culture. I couldn’t make it to this event because I had work but then I went to their second collab they organised with the Hindu society which was on Racism. It was a great evening where some very interesting points were raised by people and many shared their experiences of racism in life that left me shaken to my core.
Really, whilst Sikh society is a religious society and can get quite philosophical and abstract, you’ll find that we do tackle a lot of the contemporary issues such as racism and the role of women in the Sikh community.
And, by the way, I am not on the exec so everything I have said is my very personal opinion. If you decide to come along to any of the sessions, come say Hello (if you saw me at the ‘meet & greet’ this year, yes I didn’t say hello to anyone; I can be extremely quiet sometimes)!