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Sikh studies discussed at Wolverhampton conference

By James Vukmirovic | Wolverhampton | Education | Published:

A conference focusing on the history of Sikhism and Sikh Studies has neem held in Wolverhampton.

Dr Opinderjit Kaur Takhar, who organised the conference, with the programme

The Centre for Sikh and Panjabi Studies, the first centre of its kind at the University of Wolverhampton, organised the landmark conference to commemorate the 550th anniversary of the birth of Gura Nanak Dev Ji, the founder of Sikhism.

The three-day conference, which ran from September 3 to 5, is the first of its type in the United Kingdom since 1999 and hosted internationally-renowned scholars of Sikh Studies who showcased the ground-breaking research which has been taking place in the academic discipline of Sikh Studies at Universities across the world.

The conference began with speeches from Miceal Bardon, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and Frank Wilson, Head of Humanities, both of whom welcomed the delegates to Wolverhampton, which has one of the largest UK Sikh communities outside of London.

Delegates take in a presentation during the opening part of the conference

The Chancellor of the University, Lord Swraj Paul, also delivered a welcome speech, talking about the progress made about the centre since it opened in March 2018 and praising the pioneering innovation and intellectual quality of the centre.

The Keynote speech for the conference was delivered by Professor Pashaura Singh from University of California, who spoke about the relevance of Guru Nanak's teachings from a global perspective.

The conference has attracted a wide range of academics and leaders in Sikh and Religious studies, with panels being led by speakers from the United States, Canada, India and Pakistan.

A welcome was given by Miceal Barden, Dean of Faculty of Social Sciences

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Toby Braden Johnson, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Lynchburg University, delivered a presentation on "Telling old stories in new ways: Guru Nanak in contemporary children's books" and spoke about the benefits of studying Sikhism.

He said: "Sikhism, to me, is the greatest of the religions to study because the poetry is great, the literature is fun and the fact that it's a far more manageable history of that literature to study is an appeal because I can look at the life of these stories from 400 years ago to today in a way that's not possible in any other religious tradition."

Delegates had come from all over the world to attend the conference

Dr Opinderjit Kaur Takhar has been the driving force behind the conference and the centre for Sikh and Panjabi studies and spoke about what the conference and centre means to her.

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She said: "The aim of the conference is to showcase what we're doing in Sikh Studies at an academic level and to create an awareness of how much ground-breaking research is taking place in Sikh studies at the moment, something I've been involved in for 20 years.

"With the centre, we would like this to be the national hub for research and academic studies and, for the conference, we would like this to be the first of many.

"To have had the honour of organising this conference, it makes me really happy with the turnout and the environment, with the thirst for knowledge on display."

James Vukmirovic

By James Vukmirovic
Community Reporter - @jamesvukmirovic

Community Reporter at the Express & Star, helping under-represented communities to find a voice in Wolverhampton. Contact me at james.vukmirovic@expressandstar.co.uk.

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