6. Why do so many Sikhs have the last name Singh or Kaur?


The Sikh Gurus sought to abolish the Indian caste system that assigned value and rights to individuals based on the families they were born into. As part of the movement to end caste discrimination and promote equality among all humans, followers of Sikhism were encouraged to adopt common last names, leaving no identifiable differences between individuals from rich or poor backgrounds. Men were instructed to adopt the last name Singh, meaning lion, and women were encouraged to use Kaur, meaning princess. The use of Kaur, as opposed to adopting family names in marriage, promotes women as individuals with value and identities existing independently of their relationships with men.

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