<i>Gurbani Kirtan</i> and the Performance of Sikh Identity in California*

Charles M. Townsend

in Sikhism in Global Context

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780198075547
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199082056 | DOI:
Gurbani Kirtan and the Performance of Sikh Identity in California*

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This chapter considers the Sikh religious and cultural identity/ies in southern California. It also addresses how Sikh identities are formed, performed, informed, interpreted, and understood through the participants’ relationship with the Sikh practice of Gurbani kirtan (or Shabad kirtan), the musical and vocal performance of the central Sikh scripture, the Adi Granth. The analytical lens of diaspora studies used by the author understands musical and oral/aural performances of Gurbani as taking on multiple roles in the diasporic Sikh communities. The performance of kirtan can be regarded as a form of continuous self-commemoration for Sikh communities. Kirtan appears as a significant locus for identity transmission. The performance of Gurbani kirtan makes manifest the majesty and consciousness-transforming power of the eternal Naad. The obvious centrality of kirtan to the lives of diaspora Sikh communities indicates the ripeness of this topic for further research.

Keywords: Sikhism in California; Sikh cultural identity; Sikh identities; Gurbani kirtan; Adi Granth; diaspora Sikh communities; Naad

Chapter.  8066 words. 

Subjects: Sikhism

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