American Turban

Sikhs of Salem, Oregon, commemorate martyrdom of Guru Arjan

Oregon's Sikh community gathers Sunday, June 19,2011, for a colorful procession through South Salem, commemorating the martyrdom day of Sri Guru Arjun Dev Ji, who was the fifth guru of the Sikhs. In the fifth-annual Sikh Parade, families and friends march from the Dasmesh Darbar Sikh Temple on Oakhill Ave. SE, up Commercial St., to South Salem High School, where participants paused to eat traditional foods. The public was also welcomed to join. (photo: statesmanjournal.com)

"Oregon's Sikh community gathers Sunday, June 19,2011, for a colorful procession through South Salem, commemorating the martyrdom day of Sri Guru Arjun Dev Ji, who was the fifth guru of the Sikhs. In the fifth-annual Sikh Parade, families and friends march from the Dasmesh Darbar Sikh Temple on Oakhill Ave. SE, up Commercial St., to South Salem High School, where participants paused to eat traditional foods. The public was also welcomed to join." (photo: statesmanjournal.com)

 This past weekend, the Sikh community in Salem, Oregon – centered around the Dashmesh Darbar Sikh Temple in Salem – held their fifth annual Nagar Kirtan (religious procession) in commemoration of the martyrdom of the fifth Sikh Guru, Guru Arjan Dev, in 1606.  This is a very significant event in Sikh history, and one from which many Sikhs draw inspiration even today.

The commemoration was recognized by Salem’s mayor:

During the event, Salem Mayor Anna Peterson issued a proclamation recognizing the remembrance of Siri Guru Arjan Dev Ji in Salem around the same time each year.

“We welcome you,” Peterson told the temple’s members and those who traveled to Salem to celebrate the day.

“Sharing your celebration with us is very much appreciated,” she said.

It was during this time of year over 400 years ago, when, on the orders of India’s Mughal ruler Jehangir, Guru Arjan was arrested, tortured and executed, while refusing to convert to Islam.  The Guru would thus become the first martyr of the Sikh faith, and his death catalyzed the metamorphosis of the Sikh psyche to incorporate a military character with their spiritual one.

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