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date: 20 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This article discusses the issues and implications associated with attempting to provide a homogeneous definition of Sikh identity that encompasses all ‘Sikhs’. The existence of sects or groups which define themselves as Sikhs in one way or another present a number of contentious debates within the global Panth. Sects amongst the followers of the Sikh Gurus have existed from the very early period of the development of the Panth. The diversity in the practical expression of Sikhi prompted the Singh Sabha’s efforts towards establishing a homogeneous Sikh identity which later became synonymous with the Khalsa paradigm. There are some sects amongst Sikhs who adamantly affirm their Panthic identity, such as the Namdharis and Nirankaris. However, there are a significant number of individuals who are actively seeking their total break-off from the Panth in order to assert an independent non-Sikh (and non-Hindu) identity. In this case, the efforts of the Ravidassias and Valmikis are significant.

Keywords: Sikh identity, Singh Sabha, Namdharis, Nirankaris, Ravidassias, Valmikis, Dalits, Sikh Rahit Maryada, sects within the Panth

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