Sikhism: Taste of devotion
No-Bake Fruit Bars
The old woman had lived a simple life, one based upon the traditional fiber arts taught her by her mother and her faith. Her one wish was that one day the Holy Man would eat the bread she herself had made. She continued with her spinning and slowly and carefully, was able to put aside a little money with which she bought the wheat flour and other ingredients needed to make the bread that she herself seldom ate. She made two loaves and one day, waited by the road where the Holy Man traveled daily. While she waited, she prayed. Feeling the power of her prayers, the Holy Man directed his horse to the woman. He told her he was hungry and desired something to eat. Without dismounting his horse, he took the bread the old woman offered and ate it, astounding the accompanying Sikhs with him for he had neither dismounted nor washed his hands before eating. The Holy Man complimented the woman for her bread and then shared spiritual teaching. He concluded their visit by blessing her with liberation from rebirth.
The Sikhs with the Holy Man inquired as to the nature of his actions but he said nothing and continued the ride. The next day, as they traveled through the wooded area, the Sikhs carefully prepared food for the Holy Man and, after some time had passed, offered it to him. The Holy Man told them their food was not pleasing, even though they had prepared it with great ceremony. He told them he had eaten what the woman had offered because it was holy. The Sikhs protested and referenced the lack of a clean place for him to eat necessitating his eating on horseback. The food, they felt, was impure. The Holy Man then explained: “With great faith and devotion, that old woman made the bread out of what she had earned by the sweat of her brow. Because of this, the food was very pure and that is why I ate it. I was hungry for love; in the matter of love for God, no rule is recognized.”
Five hundred years ago, in the northern region of India called Punjab, a religion was born. Following the tradition of the ancient religions of the continent and yet centuries ahead in its universal beliefs, The Sikh religion advocated love and understanding rather than the worshipping of rituals and legalisms. As the Rehat Maryada, the Sikh Code of Conduct states: “Any human being who faithfully believes in (1) One Immortal Being, (2) Ten Gurus, from Guru Nanak to Guru Gobind Singh, (3) The Guru Granth Sahib, (4) The utterances and teachings of the ten Gurus and, (5) the baptism bequeathed by the tenth Guru, and who does not owe allegiance to any other religion is a Sikh.”
A Sikh believes that there is only one God and that God is the same for people of all religions. For the Sikh, the soul goes through cycle of births and deaths before it reaches the human form. A Sikh believes the goal of one’s life is to lead an excellent a life as possible and that one should remember God at all times. This living a life of virtue and truth is based upon a balance between spiritual and real-life obligations. Rather than practice self-denial as other religions advocated, Sikhism feels the path to achieving salvation and oneness with God is accomplished by making an honest living and avoiding the prevalent temptations of the world and society.
To the Sikh, all of mankind is equal. They believe in and practice full equality of men and women in both life and religion. From its founding in 1649 to the death of the tenth guru in 1708, the enlightened wisdom of this religion was formed. Known in Punjab as Sikhi or Gurbat, the concept of God is different in Sikhism. Called the “one constant” or Ik Onkar, God has no gender and exists beyond conventional time or space without form. The Sikh belief also recognizes that Ik Onkar has created other worlds with life forms.
Having no official priests or ministers, Sikhism is now the fifth largest organized religion in the world with over thirty million followers or adherents as they are called. A Sikh devotes his life to finding truth and that truth grows in his heart to achieve a connection and reunion with God. Their places of worship are called “gurdwara” which literally means doorway to God. Many worship centers employ priests to conduct the services in which men and women traditionally sit apart but there is no official clergy.
The tenth guru ordered the wearing of articles of faith but only Sikhs who are baptized, called amrit, wear all which are known as the “Five K’s of faith”. They are the Kesh, long uncut hair which of covered by a turban. The turban or dastaar is always worn by men but usually only donned by women inside the gurdwara. The long hair is seen as a sign of devotion and strength of faith. The Kangha is a small wooden comb used to comb the hair twice a day. A kara is an iron bracelet worn on the prominent hand and the kachera is a type of undergarment for both genders. Lastly is the kirpan which is a short dagger.
It may seem that the Sikh carry the kirpan or dagger for protection and one could claim that but it is not for protection from others exactly. One of the contradictions of many religions is the connection of love and implements used for destruction. Many Christians wear or carry a cross and yet, it was with a cross that Jesus Christ was tortured and killed. Many Jewish wear or carry a Star of David and yet it was this symbol that identified them and led to their being tortured and killed by Adolf Hitler.
The Sikhs have come under persecution themselves. A gurdwara in the United States was the scene of a tragedy and murder in 2012. Their reasons for the kirpan, though, are purely religious and personal. “To forsake pride, emotional attachment, and the sense of `mine and yours’, is the path of the double-edged sword,” taught the tenth guru, Guru Arjan Dev. Carrying the dagger reminds the faithful Sikh that his/her life is a constant balancing act and struggle. It is the pure heart illustrated by the Sikh story of the old woman and her bread, though, that Sikhism believes will ultimately prevail in life. A belief system of love and understanding with respect for all and arrogance prohibited is the recipe for living as a Sikh.
No-Bake Fruit Bars
Outside or Crust –
1 ½ cups of nuts (almonds or pecans work best)
1 ½ cups regular oats (feel free to use gluten-free oats if desired)
½ tsp salt
10 dates, chopped and pitted (or fifteen chopped figs)
¼ cup coconut oil
25 dates chopped and pitted (or equivalent amount of figs)
½ cup water
Line a square 8x* inch baking pan with parchment paper. Nonstick spray can be used but the parchment paper really works best, in my opinion. Place the nuts, oats and salt in a food processor and grind to a find crumble. This can be done by hand but it is a workout! First chopped all very finely and then combine for a final fine grinding. Melt the coconut oil over medium-low heat and then add to the crumble mixture. Add more oil if the crumble is too dry but do so in very small increments. Press half of this crumble mixture into the baking dish. Then puree the rest of the dates. Again, this is done much easier in a food processor but can be done by hand. You want a consistency similar to paste, adding water as needed. Spread the mixture evenly and smoothly over the bottom crumble crust in the baking dish and then cover with the remaining crumble. Press all neatly into place and refrigerate overnight or for at least two hours until firm. Before serving, cut into squares. This makes a lovely light dessert when paired with a couple of fresh strawberries.