Sikh Studies Conference 2015

Sikh Performance

Kirtan performance: towards understanding structure organisation and tradition, Harjinder Singh Lallie, University of Warwick.

Kirtan is situated within the rich musical traditions of North India and is the product of a process of synergy and cross fertilisation which brought together the music of many genres, groups and sects such as the Muslim Dums (minstrels) and the travelling jogis and sadhus. This rich cross fertilization of musical tradition culminated in many musical reets (traditions) which are apparent in the musical performances of many Sikh schools of Kirtan. However, this culmination of musical traditions has never been fully analysed nor have the various influences that we refer to.

In this paper we use a number of classical Kirtan samples from well know kirtanis from different kirtan gharanas (schools) to act as case studies which highlight the structure of a Kirtan performance and demonstrate the range of musical reets portrayed in a classical based Kirtan performance. We define and categorise the various components of a sabad performance

In our analysis we deconstruct a number of kirtan componemts in the sample such as the shaan, manglacharan, alaap and sargam.  For some of these components we further categorise and define them.
We believe this to be the first such analysis of its kind. Such an analysis is vital in aiding Sikh musicologists to better understand the regional influences apparent within Kirtan as well as situate and categorise the various schools and genres of Sikh music.

Harjinder Singh Lallie holds a BSc and an MSc from Birmingham City University and an MPhil from the University of Birmingham. He joined Warwick University in 2011.

Harjinder is a Senior Teaching Fellow responsible for the coordination and organisation of the MSc Cybersecurity and Management masters programme.

Harjinder is an experienced academic who has more than 13 years of teaching and tutoring experience in the areas of Information Security, Security Protocols and Digital Forensics.

He is one of leading experts in the area of Sikh Musicology and Sikh Studies.

Preserving the Northern Indian Musical Heritage Performed in 1970s Britain.' Ragi Harminder Singh.

In the 1970s great musicians from the Panjab visited the UK where they performed and shared their art over three years. The musicians were masters in their art, and they performed the khyal and dhrupad styles of music. Dhrupad literally means 'fixed words', and was developed for singing verses that were written in specific rhythms. The newer khyal genre has gained popularity at dhrupad's expense, as it places fewer constraints on the singers and allows displays of virtuosity. As a result the dhrupad art form is now becoming rare, especially since many maestros have now passed away. Luckily, some of their live performances were recorded on spool machines, which private collectors have donated to the Panjab Cultural Association.  We are currently cataloguing and digitising fifty of the recordings for posterity and we will be presenting the project to date. In our paper we explore how the Sikh music tradition has evolved from dhrupad, to khyal, along with the modern influence of ghazals and Hindi popular music.  Finally, we will examine and demonstrate how the introduction of new instruments has led to the original style of Kirtan to become endangered.

Interest in Kirtan and raag music goes back a few generations within the Bharj family. Harminder Singh was first introduced to the sacred art of Kirtan by his father Sardar Gurcharan Singh Bharj, who taught him how to sing a few shabads in raag, and also the basics of tabla at a young age. Harminder Singh’s main teacher was Ustad Mohan Singh Musapuri from West Drayton, London. Ustad Mohan Singh taught vocals, Dilruba, Sarangi, Violin and the Tabla. Harminder Singh trained under for over 20 years. Harminder Singh also learnt kirtan from Ragi Jaspal Singh (Nephew of the legendary Bhai Dharam Singh Zakhmi), and Tabla from Ustad Gurmeet Singh Virdi. The title of ‘Ragi’ which means expert in raags, was bestowed upon Harminder Singh by the Budha Dal.

Sikh History on the streets of London, Rav Singh

The streets of London reveal a wealth of Sikh and Anglo-Sikh history, drawing on a relationship between the British and the Sikhs which goes back more than three centuries. London-based Sikh historian, Rav Singh, has developed a range of innovative lectures introducing Sikh and Anglo-Sikh history to audiences young and old at Karamsar Panjabi School in Ilford, Essex. This paper provides an extract of his lecture titled ‘Sikh History on the streets of London’ which adopts the famous London Monopoly board to provide a fascinating account of Sikh and Anglo-Sikh history.


Research for the Anglo-Sikh Monopoly Board, commenced in April 2011 and in the 4 years since, a number of visits to locations in London has helped to bring to life the desk research.  Presented in this paper, is a synopsis of a selection of locations, which have now been developed into an interactive presentation incorporating photographs, film, newspaper articles and other sources of evidence.  A website: is now live, and supplements presentations, lectures and walking tours.  The learning continues, and the web content is regularly updated incorporating new research

Gurmat – A Holistic Psycho-spiritual therapeutical approach for physical, psychological and spiritual transformation, Davinder Singh Panesar

If there was ever a time in our history when humanity needed a practical solution to the immanent changes underway, it is now! The human mind has made incredible advances in the fields of science, technology, medicine, engineering yet remains profoundly ignorant of the development, evolution and transformation of the Human mind, itself! Gurmat, the psycho-spiritual therapeutic teachings of the Sikh Gurus and Mystics appears to provide a practical solution towards knowing, developing and refining ourselves both at an internal psycho-spiritual level and importantly at the physical expression as an actualised, self realised and sovereign human being.

A holistic model for human health incorporates the physical, psychological and spiritual aspects of human function. Drawing on research in neuroscience, cognitive science and transpersonal psychology, with contemplative practices from Sikh teachings has enabled the cultivation of positive development in human health, function and self-actualisation. This approach includes self-regulatory skills associated with attention training, emotional intelligence, self-representation, and dispositions such as empathy, compassion and selflessness.

Results from more than 300 patients over the past 4 years, included those with physiological illness such as cancer, parkinsons disease, CHD, Diabetes and hypertension as well as those suffering from mental illnesses such as depression, OCD and anxiety related disorders to have demonstrated lasting positive changes in health, well being and quality of life.

Dav has an impressive string of achievements to his name ranging from establishing highly successful ethical-businesses right through to pioneering the use of mindfulness meditation in health and business since the early 1990’s. His latest post-graduate education and research in "Consciousness Studies and Transpersonal Psychology" at Liverpool John Moore University 2007-2009, enabled him to bring the teachings of mindfulness, ethics and selflessness service from the Sikh tradition.