Skip to content Skip to footer
Explore Volume 1

The Project published this zine, which includes a series of short essays and reflections from Sikhs of different life experiences and of different nationalities. We hope that readers will engage the authors and their ideas thoughtfully as they consider what begumpura could be today.

Editors' Note: Begumpura Collective Vol 1

Begumpura (ਬੇਗਮਪੁਰਾ) is a poetic articulation of a city in resistance to the two millennia-old violences of brahminism. Revered and respected by some Sikhs as a Guru and revered and respected by some Sikhs as a Bhagat, Ravidas Ji is a Dalit caste-oppressed renowned figure within Dalit, Sikh, and Ravidassia communities and they articulated this imagination of Begumpura in the 1400s. Embodying what we could today describe as projects of abolition (caste, prison, property), decolonization, and self and communal sovereignty, Begumpura represents a set of physical, emotional, spiritual, temporal, and political relations based in agency, liberation, and kinship. It represents a city outside the confines of current spatial and temporal relations that transcend any and all borders. Begumpura represents a collective invitation, partly born out of deep heartbreak and grief from the shifting forms of brahminical violence, while also rooted in desires to feel and build liberatory worlds.

This zine has been our attempt to cultivate an engagement and relationship-building within the Sikh quam (or more broadly, sovereign community) through visions of Begumpura. Begumpura is explicitly named within Gurbaani on ang 345 of the Guru Granth Sahib, and as Sikhs, we begin and end with Gurbaani as a guide. Following a Sikh praxis, for us, meant that when we were looking for models of liberation and emancipation, as editors we began with one given to us that is already centuries upon centuries old. It is such a powerful model that our Guru Sahibs saw no need to revise the imagination of Begumpura. Instead, we were told to look at this model and prioritize it, uplift it, and make it into reality for our spirit’s and other spirits’ time-being on this earth.

Sikhs have made guidelines time and time again across Sikh history–theologically and practically – that point us towards what our spirit’s journey should be, and where we are meant to go. Whether that is through the language of Begumpura, Halemi Raaj, or Khalsa Raaj, these visions point us towards a political-spiritual state materializing through a divine-sovereign articulation. Amongst these potential visions, as we engage with them while attending to our dominating caste backgrounds, we intentionally centralize Begumpura in this zine as an ethics and orientation to center a commitment to caste abolition. Begumpura allows us to hold the other articulations of a sovereign “state,” while also moving towards caste abolition and considering the many necessary forms this movement requires. As part of our rehat for our spirit’s journey, Begumpura reminds us that it is our spirit that requires protection, cultivation, and prioritization while we exist in this time and this is consistent with what Gurbaani tells us about our relationships with the Guru. While we exist materially embodied in these human bodies, Sikhi tells us that we are meant to use these bodies to attain spiritual emancipation from the constant cycle of returning to the material. That means that any other potential models of collectivizing in Sikhi that are not consistent with Begumpura can be – and likely are in some way – a product of our investment in this material world.

We started this process by inviting contributors to consider how Sikhi (ਸਿੱਖੀ) has been used and is a vehicle for imagining and building towards anti-oppressive futures on this planet, drawing on Gurmat (ਗੁਰਮਤ), abolitionist, decolonial, debrahminized, and queer and trans Sikh (ਸਿੱਖ) approaches for their imaginative work. It is our ardaas that as you engage with their contributions, it sparks, supports, and furthers your own commitment and investment to building Begumpura–both spiritually and temporally. The contributors to this zine do not all agree on what Begumpura means in their lives or through their interpretations of Sikh histories. Yet, they each take time to consider how Begumpura could be a more central part of their efforts towards spiritual emancipation. In sharing their thinking and processes of reflection, we hope that it may spark new ways of thinking about these topics and new ways of materializing the liberatory politics of Begumpura and Sikhi.

Bhul Chuk Maaf.

manmit singh and prabhdeep singh kehal

Sponsorship Opportunities

We are looking for sponsors to support our community. For details and a customized benefits package, please contact us at (800) 111 – 123 – 4567 or 773-584-6669.

Sikh LGBTQIA+ Oral History Project © 2024. All Rights Reserved.

Email us ——