A Sikh studies professorship has been established in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures. The professorship, made possible through a gift from the Sikh Studies Association, is titled the Tara Singh and Balwant Kaur Chattha and Gurbaksh Singh and Kirpal Kaur Brar Sikh Studies Chair. It honors the parents of Amrik Singh Chattha and Jaswinder Kaur Chattha, who contributed one-third of the total endowment ($1.2 million) for the chair.
The purpose of the professorship is to support the study of Sikh traditions, including religion, philosophy, history, literature, Punjabi language (modern and scriptural) and related subjects. The individual appointed to the chair will hold it for a five-year renewable term.
In keeping with the Sikh tradition, many members of the Sikh and Punjabi community in North America contributed to the establishment of the Sikh studies chair. In building the fund, members of the Sikh community emphasized that they place great value on higher education, and are pleased that the study of Sikhism has exceeded the boundaries of India and been extended to the Western world.
The word Sikh means disciple. The Sikh faith was founded by Guru Nanak (14691539) to counteract sectarian fighting among Hindus and adherents of Islam in India.