What Is A Siropa?
Sikhing Answers - XXIII
This is the 23rd in our series of questions and answers where we seek your active participation.
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TODAY'S QUESTION - # 23
We often honour, inter alia, those who do exemplary seva by bestowing a siropa on an individual, during a gurdwara service, in the presence of the sangat.
The siropa usually consists of a long saffron-coloured piece of cloth, and it is usually presented to a man, woman or child by garlanding the person with it.
What does this honour signify?
What does the scarf represent? The colour?
Who gives it? Who receives it? Who decides?
What are the origins of this practice?
Can it be varied? How?
Posted on May 4, 2012
Closing Date: May 11, 2012
Conversation about this article
1: Pritam Kaur (Patiala, Punjab ), May 04, 2012, 11:29 AM.
A siropa is a saffron coloured cloth bestowed to a person in front of the sangat to honour him during a gurdawara service.
2: Kanwarjeet Singh (Franklin Park, New Jersey, U.S.A.), May 04, 2012, 1:20 PM.
Siropa - meaning 'sir de upar' - "Upon the Head'. The only thing that goes on the head is a crown or a garland, etc. So, the siropa presentation is a form of a felicitation and the siropa identifies the person who is being honored.
3: Gagandeep Singh (India), May 04, 2012, 2:56 PM.
Siropa or siropao (original term) means sir(head) to pao(feet) ... in earlier days, a siropao consisted of a stretch of cloth (puggh) and a chola (to cover upto the feet). Nowadays they are saffron scarf-lengths. Siropaos were given to honour a person's seva for the panth and gurdwaras. The saffron colour has been associated with Sikhism from olden times (e.g., the Sikh Standard). It's sad to see nowadays that these are mostly offered to politicians and other, equally undeserving people.
4: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), May 04, 2012, 10:55 PM.
There are two kinds of siropas - the intrinsic and the political. First, the intrinsic one: In 1733 the Mughal rulers realized that they could not contain or fix the Sikhs and decided to make peace with them. Subhag Singh was then in the Mughal diplomatic service and was chosen to identify a Sikh leader and to confer upon him the title of ‘Nawabi’ together with other expensive gifts that went with it - which included a jagir and suzerainty over 12 villages and a monthly stipend of Rs.5000. When Subhag Singh reached Amritsar, a diwan was in progress where some were reciting gurbani while others were engaged in various seva/chores. Nobody paid any attention to Subhag Singh. One Darbara Singh was then spotted and was asked to take the ‘Nawabi'. His snap reply was: ‘oye, mainu satguraa(n) nay nawabi bakhshi hoi hai” - 'I am already a Nawab - it's a gift of the Guru!' Subhag Singh was quite quick to point out: “Yes, indeed, this is not fit for the likes of Sardar Darbara Singh, but it would not be good to spurn this offer if it were to bring peace." "Then," replied Darbara Singh, "Why not chose any simple sevadar for this title?" Just at that moment, someone spotted and pointed out Kapur Singh who was then fanning the sangat. Another seconded the recommendation, and a third person quoted this verse: “tahal mahal taa ka-o milai jaa ka-o sadh kirpaal" [GGS:255.16] - “He alone obtains the Lord's service and is admitted into the mansion of His presence, unto whom the Satguru is compassionate.” This ‘tuk’ worked like magic and amidst jaikaaras and unanimous approval of the community, Kapur Singh was compelled to accept the title of Nawab. In abject humility, he first placed the robe of honour - the siropa - at the feet of the Punj Pyarey, among whom were Baba Deep Singh, Bhai Karam Singh and Bhai Budh Singh (great-great grandfather of Maharaja Ranjit Singh). Now, an example of the second, political type of siropa: Following the massacre at Jallianwala Bagh by General Dyer on Vaisakhi Day, 1919, he was conferred a siropa in the Darbar Sahib itself by a clergy handpicked by the British themselves. It sent shock waves through the community! Now, a 'siropa’ is even more cheaply obtained if you just pay Rs. 100 or so donation and are promptly issued, painlessly, a saffron coloured scarf and a ‘patasa’ (sugar cake) at the Harmandar Sahib and elsewhere. This is seen as making economic sense to sell ‘siropas’ as artifacts and instant recognition.
5: Devinder Singh (Khanna, Punjab), May 05, 2012, 1:35 AM.
Siropa nu aam Gurmukhi vich siropauo kar ke keha janda hai. Es da itihaas Guru Angad ton shuru hunda hai. Aap saare jande hi ho ke Guru Angad ne Guru Amardas nu 12 saal sirpoau de ke niwajiya hai te 12 saal Guru Ji 12 de 12 siropau sir te saja ke rakhe. ehda matlab eh ik senior personality vallon ik jagiasu nu ohdiaan exemplary services badle ditta gia satkaar da chinnh hai. Eh Ik 2 ya 2.25 Meter da cotton da saffron rung da vaster hai jo ke sangat di majudgi wich dita janda hai. Par aj kal jekar aap ji Rs.100 ya es to wadh gurughar vikhe daan dinde ho ya jekar aap ji di political approach hai ta badle wich eh sehje hi prapat ho janda hai- es tradition karke, jehri cheej bina kise effort to prapat ho jaave os di keemat ghat jandi hai. So panthak agooaan vallon isnu rare thawaan te hi vartia jana chahida hai. Te prapat karta vi isnu satkkar naal rakhe. Kai taan sangat vich bethde saar hi gal vichon utaar dinde han.
6: Kanwarjeet Singh (Franklin Park, New Jersey, U.S.A.), May 06, 2012, 8:36 AM.
S. Sangat Singh ji - may Waheguru add another few decades to your life so you may keep sharing these stories with us. Please do write these stories in some form of a book - your contribution to our community will be graciously accepted and honored (with a real, meaningful siropa, of course, and much more).