Tuesday, January 29, 2019

"Okay, Mom"

For those who don't know my family situation, PLEASE click on the link below:


So, I need everyone's advice. And this is in regards to my mother. You see, my mother has stopped being OPENLY hostile towards Sikhi which is a step in the right direction. But there's one thing she still seems to be lacking which is respect. Whenever I am with my mother, I automatically tone down my religion. I do not want to make her uncomfortable in any way or disrespect her beliefs. But she doesn't seem to hold the same sentiment. For example, whenever she is driving in the car with me I do not put on kirtan. Instead, I put on the news or just a regular radio station. But whenever I am in the car with her, she almost always has it on the Christian radio stations (such as 94.9, 90.9 Heaven 97, etc.). And instead of saying anything about it, I usually just put my headphones in and ignore the preacher talkin on the radio. 

Another thing she does is always quote the Bible. For example, there might something going on on the news and she'll then say, "Well, you know the Bible says xys". And instead of me saying what Gurbani says, I just say "Okay, Mom" or nothing at all. 

Then there are the constant exclamations of "Praise Jesus!". And I'm like "Okay, that's cool. But would you like it if I said "Dhan Guru Nanak!" every time that I was in your vicinity? Probably not. 

These are just a few examples of the things I have to go through when I go home. Even my grandparents aren't that, how do you say, Jesusfied. And she always asks me why I act like sometimes I don't want to go home. Well, this is a huge reason why. I'm uncomfortable around her and her basically throwing her religion in my face. When I do the exact opposite out of respect. 

So I need ya'lls advice. For those who have not grown up in a Christian family (more specifically a Protestant family), please try to understand the mentality we are dealing with here. Thanks

-
-Gurpreet

Friday, January 11, 2019

Adopting the Five Kakaars

So, this one is for those of ya'll who might be thinking about adopting one or more of the kakaars. The advice I will give on this stems mostly from my own experience.

Kirpan: 

It is important to check what the knife laws are in your country and state. The only countries I am aware of that have outright banned the kirpan are Italy and Denmark. Everywhere else, the laws change. For example, in Texas, we can wear swords in public if we want to. BUT certain places such as hospitals, mental health facilities, schools, etc., the blade must be 5 and a half inches or less. This leads to my next point.

For those who are in university, check with the school to make sure it is okay to be carrying a kirpan. I visited the Office for Inclusion and Equity, sat down, and had a conversation. I also was able to get it in writing that I can warry a kirpan as long as the blade is at maximum 5 and a half inches. For those who work, I suggest you check with your company and notify them as well.

If you ever have legal issues, I suggest contacting the Sikh Coalition to know your rights.

Now, for those who wear their kakaars 24/7, they can find that sleeping with a  normal sized kirpan can be difficult. The solution is to either wear a smaller kirpan or get a dori kirpan. A dori kirpan is what we Nihangs wear especially when doing ishnaan or going to bed. It does not get in the way that much compared to a regular kirpan.


Kachera:

Tell me why nobody ever told me underwear does not have to be worn with kachera? I figured this out months later after I started wearing them. So I'm just telling you that now so you do not have to go through the pain of it. I suggest also buying multiple pairs of kachera. So when one pair gets dirty, you can just switch out into another pair. And when one rips (which will happen), you can simply replace it.  Also, if you are going to machine wash your kachera, make sure to tie the string beforehand. Because if you don't, most likely the string will go back into the tunnel part. And let me tell you, it is VERY inconvenient to spend 30 minutes trying to fish it back out.

Kesh and Keski:

For this one, I'm going to divide it by gender. Because different genders struggle with different things.

Girls - For most of us, we've had hair on the top of our heads all our lives. So we know how to take care of it. The only thing we're not used to is body hair. There is really nothing you need to do to take care of body hair. It's just a matter of self-confidence. At first, it's gonna be like "AHHHHH" but after a few months, you get used to it. If you get smack from your family for not shaving (which I did), just ignore it. They cannot force you to shave (at least, I don't think they can).

Boys - Well hello there. Most of ya'll have had body hair for most of your lives but not a lot of head hair (except for a few exceptions). For most of ya'll, it will a new experience having a joora, man bun, afro, ponytail, dreads, braids, etc. So here are my suggestions to ya'll.

First of all, the easiest way to learn hair care is to ask your sisters or your mother. If they are not comfortable with that, or if that is not a possibility, find a good hair stylist and get hair care tips as well as recommendations from them. And please, PLEASE look at the ingredients of the products you are putting on your hair. Make sure most (and better yet, all) the ingredients are natural. Try to stay away from chemicals as much as you can. Also, try to stay away from using heat as much as you can. This goes for girls and boys.

Secondly, the same thing I told the girls I'm going to tell you. If your family gives you flack for keeping your kesh, you are just going to have to ignore it. I always say people coming into Sikhi (or those from not so Gursikh families) have to have a backbone. Don't let people's comments get to you.

Thirdly, I know nothing about beard care. Sorry lol.

For Both Genders - Coloring your hair is looked down upon in Sikhi. So if you do it and plan on becoming Amritdhari, I suggest you stop.

Now, we will get into Keski. Taking care of a dastar isn't that hard once you get use to it. Here are a few quick tips on that.

1. Own several. Sometimes one dastar might not want to tie one day. So use another one.

2. Keep them hung up. Not only does this show respect to the dastar, but it helps keep the wrinkles out.

3. Steam and turban material go together. If you take steamy showers, put your turban in the bathroom with you as well. Or just turn on the shower, put your turban in there, and keep the door closed for like 15-30 minutes. Makes it easier to tie.

4. Preferably hand wash your dastar. But for people like me who can't do that, machine wash it. And do NOT put your turban material in the dryer. Always hang it up and let it air dry.

5. For the few months, no matter what turban style you wear, don't get upset because it looks like crap. Tying a turban takes practice and experimentation. Even I don't tie a 100% perfect turban. And for the ladies, if you really care that much about how your turban looks, just throw a chunni over it. Guys, ya'll are out of luck 😂

Kangha: 

Ain't much to say. Just keep it off the floor and keep multiple. If you lose one or one breaks, just replace it.

Kara: 

Get one that fits you. Less banging against the table that way. Keep them off the floor. Etc. Etc.


Where Can I Get the Kakaars?

The easiest and less expensive way to get them is from the Gurdwara. Most Gurdwaras should have them in stock and they are given away for free. Just let them know you need it.

If that doesn't work out, look online to purchase them.


Hope this helped. And good luck on your journey.

Waheguru ji ka Khalsa! Waheguru ji ki Fateh!


Saturday, January 5, 2019

Resources for Sikh Converts (And All My Creations)

This is the mother load you've been waiting for! A goldmine of resources with all of them being in English (this varies for the websites). Please do enjoy! And check back for updates! Don't forget to share it with those you know.

Note: A mention does not equal an endorsement. Thank you.



"Derby #13 Q&A - Where to start if we're new to Sikhi?"

Books


Collection of Free Online Sikh Books in English

Sikh Book Club

Youtube Playlists


Information about Sikhs and Sikhism

"A playlist for everything about Sikhs and Sikhism. Covers a wide range of topics from the founding of Sikhism to the plight of Sikhs residing in America"

How To - Sikh Edition

"For those who want to know how to do something"

Facebook Group





Websites
















































Thursday, January 3, 2019

My Favorite Kirtanis

This is quite simple and to the point. These are my favorite kirtanis that I have listened to throughout my journey as a Sikh.



Name: Veer Manpreet Singh

Country of Origin: The United Kingdom

Description: Very melodious voice, great for Simran and Nitnem




Name: Bhai Joginder Singh Ji Riar

Country of Origin: India

Description: Great for singing Gurbani, listening to Indian instruments, an overall great Raagi




Name: Snatam Kaur

Country of Origin: The United States

Description: Angelic voice, great for Simran and Nitnem (like Veer Manpreet Singh)



Name: Taren Kaur

Country of Origin: The United Kingdom

Description: Great voice, music is great for learning about Sikh History and Sikhi, sometimes sings in English


Now, before we go onto this next one, let me just say that I personally think the allegations are true. And I hope punishment is dealt where it needs to be dealt. That being said, you can't take away the fact from them that their kirtan IS good. So instead of saying who they are or highlighting their accomplishments, I will just link a video





Hope you liked! 



How to Raise Awareness of Sikhism

Waheguru ji ka Khalsa! Waheguru ji ki Fateh! Now some of ya'll might be looking at the title and asking, "Why is it important to raise awareness of Sikhi in the first place?" I'll give you a quick and simple answer using visuals.





Get it? And these are just some of the most significant cases. This does not even begin to portray the number of hate crimes committed against Sikh Americans post 9-11. Including the bullying of American Sikh children.

Keep in mind that I am not trying to scare anyone; I am just trying to portray the reality of the situation. Which is 1) most Americans are ignorant about who Sikhs are or what Sikhs believe 2) Sikhs have become a target of hate since we resemble he who shall not be named and 3) there are a minority of Americans out there who will let their ignorance transform into hate (which then translates into violence).

We as Sikhs need to get past this whole "we don't proselytize" or "we're afraid to share our beliefs out of fear of offending other faiths" attitude, because at the end of the day, it is and has hurt us. It should be known that there is a difference between proselytization (attempting to convert people to another religion or opinion) and education (giving someone training in or information on a particular field). What we as a community and as a Panth need to do is educate.

So for those of ya'll who care, I am going to show you simple ways that you can do your part to spread awareness without really going out of your way. Feel free to do just one of them or all of them. It's your choice.

1. T-Shirts

A t-shirt is like walking billboard. It is one of the first things that people tend to notice about you (minus your turban, kirpan, etc.). It's a way to say who you are without verbally saying anything. T-shirts can be found on Amazon, Zazzle, and a few other websites.

2. Brochures/Business Cards

It is not that hard to make business cards and carry a few around. They're small and fit in your purse/wallet. I decided to make my own after encountering people in public (at places like Walmart and such) with questions while not having the time to adequately answer them.


The next step up is brochures. Brochures go more in-depth than business cards and are available in several different languages. I also believe that all Gurdwaras should have a tiny spot where they keep brochures. So if anyone comes and visits the Gurdwara, atleast they leave knowing a bit more about Sikhi. Here are some from Basics of Sikhi and one from the Sikh Coalition. Both are translated into various languages (including English, Spanish, French, etc). 



And did you know that just recently Basics of Sikhi released a leaflet on the kirpan? Feel free to click on the link below and print it out


3. Bumper Stickers

Ok, Ok, I know some of ya'll might think this is corny, but I'm from Texas. And it's a thing here. But think for a second of how many miles you travel in a car. And think of how many people see your car a day. Now add a bumper sticker to that equation. See where I'm going with this? And you don't have to do anything but literally drive  (which we do on the daily). I will say this though. Please don't get those kiss up bumper stickers like "Sikhs love America" and stuff.


4. Inviting People to the Gurdwara

The Gurdwara is open to everyone, but unfortunately, we seem to have forgotten that. I would encourage those who live in the big cities to find their local interfaith organization and see if they have a "passport" program. It's a program where each month, members of different congregations go and visit one congregation. We have it here in Austin and its a very lovely program. All you need to do is send an email to the higher ups and see if you can get your congregation on board (which is often the hard part).

And to those on the Gurdwara committees, how about inviting the local police department to a diwan? I've already seen some Gurdwaras doing this and it is having a positive effect on the Sikh community. Better yet, it would be really awesome if we could invite TSA agents to come, sit down, and have langar with us.

Anyways, I hope this could help all you Sikhs out there (especially the ones who aren't necessarily public speakers or extroverted). And for those who might be involved in interfaith work (like me), I hope this gave you some ideas. See ya later!

Waheguru ji ka Khalsa! Waheguru ji ki Fateh!