US varsity sets up chair in Sikh musicology

June 5th, 2008 - 9:58 pm ICT by IANS  

New York, June 5 (IANS) An endowed chair to study and teach Sikh musical traditions has been established in the department of religion of Hofstra University here. The chair will focus on how Sikh music and scripture are historically intertwined.

The Sardarni Harbans Kaur Chair in Sikh Musicology is a gift from Hakam Singh, a retired chemist with a lifelong interest in Sikh music.

The chair “will add to Hofstra’s growing expertise on the rich traditions of Sikhism”, university president Stuart Rabinowitz said.

California-based Singh defined Sikh musicology as the combination of Sikh scripture and Indian music.

“In Sikhism, music is extremely important. There are about 6,000 hymns, or shabads, in Sikh scripture and each hymn is preceded by instructions as to what raga and musical measure, or taal, it should be sung in.”

Hofstra University, in Long Island, already has a Sikh professorship and has established a Guru Nanak Interfaith Prize.

The Sardarni Kuljit Kaur Bindra Chair in Sikh Studies was created to promote the academic study of Sikh religion, philosophy, culture and history.

It also supports the appointment of a faculty member in Sikh Studies and helps build the university library’s holdings in Sikhism.

Recently, Hofstra awarded the first Guru Nanak Interfaith Prize to the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader.

The biennial award, named after the founder of Sikhism, was endowed by the family of Sardar Ishar Singh Bindra. It recognises efforts at interfaith dialogue.

The $50,000 prize will be presented to the Dalai Lama Nov 18 at a ceremony in India, where the Tibetan leader lives.

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