10 September 2011


Source:  US Department of Defence
So, it's 11 September 2011, ten years later.

CBC has been obsessing about this, even outdoing the USA networks.

These have been a very difficult time for us Sikhs in North America.  We have been snubbed, bullied,beaten and murdered in a case of mnistaken identity.  I admit that I often think that this is a willing mistake on the part of those who have chosen to hate us.   We look different - even worse, we CHOOSE to look different.  We choose not to blend in, we choose to stand out.

Still, I, at least, feel a bit guilty when I explain that I am not a Muslim, a chunni is not a hijab.  Am I implying there is something wrong about being a Muslim?  No, I am not!  But sometimes, it is taken that way, especially by Muslims.  I can usually get them to see what I mean by asking, "Would you like to be taken for a Sikh?"

I heard of a group of Christian girls and women in Kansas City, who, with much publicity, donned hijabs after the attacks with the state motive to make it impossible to look at a woman and know iof she is a Muslim.  Look at the picture below.  Can you be sure of her religion?

I have no idea how the Muslim community reacted to this, but it raised an interesting question:  How would we react as a community if a group of non-Sikhs grew kesh and tied turbans to protect us?  I'm really not certain, but it's interesting to think about.

It has been ten years, ten difficult years for Sikhs in the USA.  I will not compare the North American experience with what the Sikhs of India suffered in the last 15-20 years of the Twentieth Century.  That is a different situation, and I hope my fellow Diasporan Sikhs draw courage and commitment from those Sikhs. 

I think that this would be a good time to renew our commitment to stand for good for all humanity.  Let us live the truth of the words we say at least once every day:

Photo:  Courtesy NASA

To that end, I suggest we join with Pete Seeger, a great USAer and a great humanitarian, singing the great USA song of hope, optimism and commitment, WE SHALL OVERCOME.    I'll make it easy for you.  This video has on-screen lyrics.

CREDIT: GIRL IN HIJAB by Mohammed Ibrahim

04 September 2011


All of you know her.  An elderly, tiny, shriveled Khalsa Kaur who seems always to be at every Sikh gathering, but rarely says anything to anyone.  She sits in a corner and keeps to herself, her face expressionless as she does her sewa.  

When I was growing up, there was such an elderly Khalsa Kaur in our sangat.  To me, a young girl, she seemed impossibly ancient, skin wrinkled like a raisin, her teeth often left at home, always dressed in drab colours, her tiny frail body  lost in a chunni that seemed to engulf and swallow her.  She rarely said anything to anyone, quiet, possibly shy and, of course, a widow.  A solitary woman who seemed to almost disappear, unnoticed, into her environment.

She sewed kachera.  Whenever I saw her she was stitching, tiny, even perfect stitches.  To me, being young, I thought she was doing a lot of unnecessary work.  Why not get her a sewing machine?   When I suggested this to Dad, he just gave me a knowing smile and said nothing.  

I decided that if no one else was going to help her, I would.  

So one day, I walked up to her - although I was a bit afraid of her - and said, "Khalsa ji, would you like to have a sewing machine to sew your kachera?"  She stopped her sewing,  looked up at me and did something I had no idea she knew how to do.  She smiled.  A huge, wide, happy smile.  Then she patted the floor beside her, inviting me to sit down beside her, which I did.

Again, she picked up her sewing and began stitching.  That close to her, I could hear her almost silent "Waheguru" with each stitch.  I never again suggested she get a sewing machine.

[Note:  those are pictures of me that I have aged using the magic of Photoshop.  Now I know what I'll look like should I live to be 100.]