Sunday, December 31, 2017

A Thank You to Everyone and a Happy New Year

If you had told me what type of person I would be by the end of 2017, I would have laughed. But here I am. I've completed my first semester at UT, I've survived living in a dorm for 4-5 months, and I started wearing a dastar (turban). These may not be big accomplishments for you, but for me, they were. But anyways, I wanted to end 2017 with thanking people. I'm not going to name names since some people might feel left out or feel salty.

First off, I would like to thank my sangat in DFW who helped me when I was first transitioning into Sikhi. Whether it was supplying me with Gutkas, teaching me basic Sikh concepts, or just making me feel apart of the Sikh community, thank you. The second thank you goes to my online sangat (I'm pointing at you Discord sangat). Ya'll have answered all the deep questions I have about Sikhi while also connecting me to Sangat across the globe. Even though you'll are trolls, you'll are the best trolls in the world. Sometimes, you'll feel like the Sikh brothers/sisters I never had. Most of my deep knowledge of Sikhi comes from ya'll. So hats off to you. Oh, and I can't forget the Sikh community on Twitter. Ya'll keep me laughing every time I check my Twitter feed and you'll have supplied me with valuable resources and advice. And for that I thank you :) The third thank you goes to my sangat in Austin. What can I say? You all have taken me into your homes, feed me, clothed me, taught me the importance of simran, blessed me with your kirtan, and been there when I was down and out. I couldn't have asked for a better Sangat, and at this point, you all are more like family to me. I pray that during these next 4 years (probably less since I'm graduating early), I can become a more useful part of the community.

To my non-Sikh amigos (I see ya'll), thank you. Whether I know you from Grace Prep (which I honestly would be surprised if you're reading this), Crowley, or UT, thank you. I couldn't have made it through the year without ya'll. Especially these last few months. Whether it was making me laugh, or giving me advice, or just checking on me every now and then, it meant a lot to me. You are all so diverse, which makes me love you'll even more individually. I hope that the friendships I made this year continue to develop in to 2018. If not, I pray that you all have a great 2018.

I can not wait to see what happens this year. This year, I want to become an even better Sikh, get even more involved in entrepreneurship, and expand my network in Austin. But I will be honest. These next few months, I will need your emotional support. You see, before I leave back for Austin, I will be coming out to my family as Sikh. This is not easy if you knew what kind of environment I grew up in (evangelical Christian). They will get over it eventually but these next few months I'm probably going to be emotionally vulnerable. So please, I am asking for all the love and comfort I can get these next two-three months. I will also be focusing more on my studies this semester. I know I did not work as hard as I could have this semester so that is about to change.

Ok, I'm tired of typing. Let's welcome this new year with a smile on our faces and our new years resolutions (like we ever follow through with those) ready to go. As always, please forgive any grammar mistakes I make. VJKK VJKF! 2018, give me everything you got!

P.S. I update my conversion story every now and then. If you are on your phone, you can't see it. If you are on your laptop, the link to the word doc is to the side. Give it a look if you're interested

Update (7/21/2018): I have gained alot of new Sangat here in Texas since this post. Also, Sikh twitter has turned into....I don't even want to say. Discord is "eh" rn and Facebook is in (atleast for me). Can't really say much else about this post.



Tuesday, November 28, 2017

My Frustrations

Wjkk Wjkf! Today I will be talking about my frustrations in relation to Sikhi. Lately, I have been very frustrated with myself. Why? Because I feel like I am in a cage when it comes to my spiritual progress. Whenever I go to the Gurdwara or to Sangat, if there are no English translations up on a screen, I don't know what's going on. I don't know what is being said which makes me unable to connect to the kirtan. And as someone who loves kirtan, it makes me mad. But this all stems from one thing: I do not know Punjabi. Even though Sikhi is a universal religion, it still mostly caters to Punjabi speakers. There are kathas in English (thanks to Basics of Sikhi, Nanak Naam, mySimran.info, and a few other Sikh channels), but most discussions of Sikhi are done in Punjabi. I want to learn about Sikhi, but how can I if I don't understand what is being said. Another thing about not knowing Punjabi is that I literally can't speak to half the Sangat. Because half of them (mostly older Sikhs) do not speak English. I love old people and gaining wisdom from them, but how can I if I can't communicate with them? Oh, and that reminds me of another thing, the hukamnama. I firmly believe in following the orders set forth by the Guru. But when you put the hukamnama only in Punjabi, I have no idea what the Guru just said. So how can I do what the Guru is saying if I don't understand what He's saying? All these frustrations built up in me the other day and I just started crying. I want to become a devoted/Amritdhari Sikh but I feel like this problem is holding me back. And unfortunately, due to being in college, I really don't have enough time to fully learn Punjabi. I have almost half of the Gurmukhi script memorized but that's just the alphabet. I still won't be able to understand the language.
Waheguru. I don't know how I'm going to solve this problem. I honestly need help. I wish the Sikh population here had the same resources at those in the UK, California, NY/NJ, Australia, etc. I mean, the other day I was looking out of curiosity where in the US they might be holding Amrit Sanchars and I found ONE. And that one has already passed. Compared this to the UK and other countries where they have several Amrit Sanchars each month/year. It's kind of sad. So that's my rant. I wrote enough. Hopefully, my luck will start to turn around. Wjkk Wjkf!

Edit: Thank you to all of those who have messaged me expressing empathy and giving me advice. I will write an update post after a few weeks. Also, excuse my bad writing lol. This is my blog so I really don't care about grammar and structure. 

Update (7/21/2018): Well, things did get better. I still don't know Punjabi (which is still a barrier when trying to talk to people), but I have developed a method to find shabads and hukamnamas read/sung in Punjabi. So yay me! Also, resources in the US (not counting Cali and NY) are still lacking for Sikhs. This isn't good. 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Busy, Busy, Busy

Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru ji ki Fateh.

Where do I even start? Life has been so busy recently. I'm in 3 to 4 orgs/programs while trying to balance this with studying. I haven't been doing the best at it but I'll get better eventually. Anyways, tomorrow I'm going to start back doing some of my Nitnem. I had stopped earlier this year since the circumstances to do my prayers weren't the best. So tomorrow, I'm going to start doing Rehras Sahib and Kirtan Sohila every day. And once I'm living in an apartment next year, I'll be able to do all five (unless I take Amrit before). Ah, Amrit. That will be the day.

Update (7/21/2018): Ah, Gurpreet. If only you would have know how hard it is to get ALL of your Nitnem done for the day.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Dallas Samagam

Well, I finally have some time to do a new blog post. Last weekend, I attended an AKJ kirtan samagam program in Dallas and it was amazing. At least, when I wasn't on the verge of falling asleep. Thankfully, the gurdwara had rooms upstairs in which I could sleep in. And I had no problem with sleeping on the floor. I attended this samagam with a GurSikh family from the Austin area. I am grateful for them letting me tag along and I am also grateful for them letting me into their house. I can't wait to attend other future events with them. I also went to my first SSA meeting this week and that was something lol. They all have their individual personalities, which I like. I went to the Austin gurdwara today for the first time and that was nice. I definitely can see myself being apart of this Sangat for the next 4 years. And this weekend is the Austin samagam (which I heard is WAY bigger than Dallas'). So that should be interesting. Ok, it's late now. College has taken over my schedule and I kept saying to myself that I should update my blog. Please forgive me for my errors and mistakes in this paragraph. It's kind of all over this place. Wjkk Wjkf.

Update (7/21/2018): Still love AKJ kirtan and samagams. I also found that I love Dodra samagams as well. Also, meeting the Virdis (that GurSikh family) is one of the best things that could have ever happened to me. They really are like family to me now. And lol, I dropped SSA for the UIC (University Interfaith Council). I think that was a good decision on my part. And if I remember correctly, that Austin samagam was alright. I was fairly new to the community so I remember having that "deer in headlights" look 😂

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Naming Ceremony and Life

Waheguru ji ka Khalsa! Waheguru ji ki Fateh! I have very exciting news. Yesterday afternoon, I had a naming ceremony at my Gurdwara. I received the letter "g", and after a couple of minutes of deliberation between Amanpreet and myself, I settled on the name Gurpreet. Because (1) I love the meaning of the name "love of Guru" (2) It's easy to pronounce and (3) so I and Ama have similar names lol. Especially since we're going to potentially start a business together in the future. The real struggle though is going to be making people who know me as Jasmine call me by my new name now lol. Ok, enough of that. Literally a week from now I will have moved into my dorm at UT Austin. I'm excited, nervous, and sometimes I just don't know what to feel. I can't wait to see the people I met at orientation again and I can't wait to meet new people. That first week I plan on decorating/organizing my dorm room, visiting the local gurdwara, and going to the Welcome Week events that I'm interested in. And overall just adjusting to college life. I'll have my car so that's a plus. What else...Oh! I finished my summer courses last Thursday. Finished with all As' too. Never thought I would make it lol. Ummm the next couple of days I will be babysitting my nephew before I leave and I think I just have a dentist appointment left sooooo yeah that's it. - Gurpreet

Update (7/21/2018): Decided to change the title of this post. Also, Ama is still bae, UT dorms suck, and I adjusted to college life.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Freshman Orientation


As I walked by the tower on UT's campus, I noticed a plaque listing their core values. Since I had some time, I decided to stop and actually read what was engraved upon it. Their values were listed as followed: Learning, Discovery, Freedom, Leadership, Individual Opportunity, and Responsibility. These values sounded familiar to me but I couldn't quite figure out why. But after a couple of minutes, the light bulb finally went off in my head. "Oh wait a second, it's because they ARE familiar." Because not only are these UT's values but these are Sikh values as well. As Sikhs, we are disciples/learners who are supposed to discover Truth (or Sat). We believe in religious freedom (as well as freedom in general) and are supposed to be leaders, setting a good example for others. Everyone should have equal opportunity to achieve their dreams and Sikhs are responsible for assisting those outside of our community as well as in our community. As I walked away from the plaque, I came to a realization. "This is definitely where you're meant to be. I don't know what will happen over these next four years, but whatever does happen, this is the campus I am meant to be on." Orientation consisted of a lot of memorable moments (making new friends, registering for classes, partying (not that kind of partying), and walking around campus), but this is a moment I'll never forget. I can't wait to be an official Longhorn this upcoming fall and for the next 4 years. Hook 'Em!

Update (7/21/2018): Man, remembering how awesome freshman orientation was makes me want to cry. Even though being at UT isn't the easiest, this is still where I am meant to be.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Class of 2017!

Class of 2017, by God's Grace, WE DID IT! We graduated high school! I officially graduated May 31st. It feels so good to be done with high school, but we must remember that we have a bigger mountain to climb ahead of us (college). I am personally nervous and excited for college, but I know it will all work out for good in the end. The only thing that I'm disappointed about is that I really don't have a "summer vacation" this year. I'm taking a few of my classes to get them out of the way. But it will pay off in the end. :) My goals for freshman year are to (1) pass all my classes (of course), (2) connect with the local Sangat, (3) join a few organizations (probably 3 max) that I'll personally invest myself in, and (4) become an independent adult (as compared to an independent teen). I know my goals will eventual change but that's what I can think of now.

Update (7/21/2018): And I accomplished all of these goals. Yay me!


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Manchester

After spending last night crying my eyes out, it comforts me to know that the Sikh community is stepping up to help in Manchester. I could have easily been one of the victims. I'm 18, like Ariana Grande, and could have attended one of her concerts (locally of course). Usually, events like this do not emotionally affect me, but this hits too close to home. It's not just happening in Western countries but also in countries like the Philippines right now. But of course, American news outlets are not going to cover that. It's time for the world to stop and reflect on how we treat each other. And it's time that we put a stop to terrorism/ISIS. This cannot go on much longer.

Update (7/21/2018): Thank God ISIS is nearly obliterated. But that doesn't mean I'm still not on my toes though. The US has a mass shooting epidemic, and whenever I have bad dreams, it always involves me being in a mass shooting.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Kaurs


Sometimes I wonder why there are not more Kaurs in leadership positions within the Sikh Panth. I mean it's not like we're uneducated and unable to handle the responsibilities of leadership. There are plenty examples of modern-day Kaurs who are killing it when it comes to their career fields. But why is it when I look specifically at Sikhi related roles, they are all filled by our male counterparts. Just look up the committees at different gurdwaras. Some of it is obviously due to sexism but I also think that it's our fault as girls for not standing up for our rights. We have taken a back seat and confined ourselves to just being followers. This should not be. And in my opinion, it's kind of sad. What is it going to take for us Kaurs to develop the strength within themselves to step up and lead? The answer is Waheguru, Waheguru, Waheguru.

O Waheguru, may we not confined by societal norms. May we develop the fire within us (Kaurs and Singhs) to transform the Panth into what You wanted it to be. Save us from the 5 Vices and keep your protection over us. Thank you for our Gurus and for Your mercy! Waheguru ji ka Khalsa! Waheguru ji ki Fateh!

Update (7/21/2018): I still hold strongly to this position. Probably even more strongly to before.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Sangat

I'm so excited to be going off to college. Not only will it be an opportunity for me to explore who I am and what I want to be in life, but I'll be free to go to the gurdwara. I've never wanted to go to a religious building so much in my life. I've been to a gurdwara once, and ever since then, I've wanted to go back. But thanks to my schedule and not having my own mode of transportation, I haven't been back. I wonder how the Sangat is down there? I wonder who I will meet? I've been raised in the church all my life, so I don't know what exactly to expect. It's all brand new to me. Yeah, I'm a little nervous joining a whole new community and all, but hopefully, this feeling will go away once I take the first step (by God's Grace). 

Update (7/21/18): Austin's Sikhs might not be perfect, but you'll find some diamonds in the rough. And not just in Austin. But all over Texas. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Family

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa! Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh! Sometimes I wonder how my family would react if they found out that I was Sikh. According to my intuition, it wouldn't be very good. Sometimes I wonder why Waheguru had me born into a Christian family (a Baptist family at that). Why couldn't I have been born into a Sikh family? It would have been so much easier. But I guess life wasn't meant to be easy. Like the Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji says, pain is the medicine and worldly pleasure is the disease. In order for soldiers to get fit, they must work through the pain of exercise. No pain, no gain. In the same way, Sikhs and especially the Khalsa must get into shape in order to fight against injustice. I don't know, I just wish that I could openly be a Sikh.

Update (7/21/18): If only you would have known the pain you would go through. But at the same time, you'll come to find it was totally worth it.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Short Introduction

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa! Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh! My name is Jasmine and I am 18 years old. I am African American and became a Sikh three and a half months ago after growing up in a Christian household my whole life. I started this blog in order to tell my story on how I went from an evangelical Christian to a Sikh. It's also a way for me to connect with other Sikhs around the globe who might be in similar circumstances or who have had similar experiences as mine. I hope you'll enjoy this adventure as much as I will and thank you for choosing Sikhi cruise lines. 

Update: And exactly one year after starting this blog, I became an Amritdhari. Wah!

2nd Update (7/21/2018): I was so innocent back then. It's so cute lolololol