Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://zone.biblio.laurentian.ca/handle/10219/3529
Title: Journey to the sacred: an architectural retreat for the Sikh diaspora of British Columbia  
Authors: Brar, Prabhjit Kaur
Keywords: Gurdwara;Sikhism;sacred spaces;diaspora;British Columbia;pilgrimage
Issue Date: 6-Apr-2020
Abstract: The thesis addresses the evolution of religious practice and sacred spaces in the Sikh faith with an approach to propose a new kind of local pilgrimage for devotees to the spiritual realm in a diasporic Canadian context. In our highly secular lives, the issue at hand is to curate spaces to support the practice of a religion and maintain a spiritual connection. In conditions of diaspora, when practitioners are displaced from the homeland, the struggle to maintain a spiritual and ethnic identity can become more immense. Sikhism 1 is a monotheistic religion based on the principles of divine unity and equality of all. The pillar of Sikh architecture is the Gurdwara. Gurdwara, translating to “the doorway to the Guru,” and is the Sikh’s place of worship. 2 It is the essence for which all principles stand in the Sikh faith 3 and the Sikh religious experience constitutes that of a devotional path culminating in a direct experience of the Eternal Being and attainment of liberation. 4 The proposed pilgrimage is located in British Columbia, a province with the greatest percentage of diasporic Sikhs throughout Canada since the early 1900s. 5 Congregational worship in diaspora communities allows for bonding in a culturally familiar atmosphere, 6 with congregational spaces serving as a human rights advocacy and a community gathering space amongst a place of worship. 7 The devotees, including generations now born in the migrant country, may still long to visit the homeland in search of this spiritual guidance. This research will investigate these potentials and apply them to explore a new typology for this faith, the pilgrimage destination for contemplation. Through the analysis of case studies, the traditional pilgrimage typology and modern-day pilgrimages inform the arrival of uniting with the spiritual dimension in form of praying at relic or apparitions Pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, Lac Ste Anne and Buddhist retreats, demonstrate a focus on the pilgrim’s journey which include modes of travel, religious attachment and various forms of self-realization. However, Sikhism rejects the traditionally known notion of pilgrimage, stating it is a quest of an egoistic individual and instead justifies that the quest for self-liberation is found within an inner journey. 8 Discussion surrounds the holy hymns found in the Guru Granth Sahib with a musical setting known as kirtan which can be associated with a sacred journey which includes both personal and communal experiences of pilgrimage. 9 Furthermore, physical pilgrimages to Hemkunt Sahib and Sri Harmandir Sahib demonstrate the ties between place and identity for both local and diasporic Sikh communities. Nagar Kirtan, an event observed worldwide, is an outdoor procession of singing of holy hymns in a community. A Nagar Kirtan can be associated with the physical pathway followed by a congregation on a specific day of the year. The proposed site and building are an opportunity for religious practice and ritual that considers local context, diverse users and contemporary pilgrimage practices. The proposed design is a contemporary pilgrimage that becomes the symbol and identity of Canadian Sikhs.
URI: https://zone.biblio.laurentian.ca/handle/10219/3529
Appears in Collections:Master's Theses

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