Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Singapore the city of Sikhs

Had an interesting discussion with my friend yesterday about the meaning of Singh. My friend was under the impression that all guys with the name Singh in their names are Sikhs.

Actually, Singh is derived from the Sanskrit 'Simha' meaning 'Lion'. It was originally used in names by the ancient Hindu martial classes kshatriya of Northern India such as the Rajputs. FYI, the Malay term Satria is derived from kshatriya (also name of one of the Proton car models).

Sikhs only adopted the name "Singh" due to the wishes of Guru Gobind Singh, the last guru of the Sikhs in 1699.

Now you know why Singapore is called the "Lion city". It is made up of two Sanskrit words, Singa = Lion + Pura = city. It doesn't mean the city of Sikhs.

However, I have no idea why many Malaysians still refer to Sikhs as Bengali. Bengali are ethnic group of people from the state of West Bengal in India and Bangladesh whose mother tongue is Bengali. The great Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore was a Bengali.

Related posts: Malaysian-Indian identity

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1 comment:

Jee said...

Interesting.. never thought so much of these.

Btw haven't heard people using the term Bengali for a while, I guessed the people nowadays are using the term much less.

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