So, why do you wear that bangle on your wrist? Have you ever been asked this question and others like it regarding your identity? If so, have you been able to answer the question or have you mastered the art of avoiding answering it directly? I was one of these people. I had answers, but they were vague and really of no consequence.
The situation plagued me especially when it suddenly dawned on me that I was a Sikh, yet I could not hold a conversation about my religion or confidently put across what our Gurus have taught us. I may look like a Sikh, but inside I knew nothing.
I also recall an incident when someone asked me whether I prayed at all. My answer, given honestly at the time, was that I did but only when I needed something from God. At the time I did not realise the error of my words.
However, now I question why I do not pray to thank God for everything He has given me? He has given me a voice, I am not being oppressed or persecuted. I am a healthy individual and only now realise that it is God who has been looking over me all this time. It was then that I was filled with an overwhelming desire and urgency to learn about my faith. I owed it to myself and to the memory of the Gurus and their teachings.
My journey of acquiring knowledge began by joining the Sikh Studies class at the local Gurdwara where I am learning how to do prayers. It has opened many doors for me and sometimes my spirits are raised so high through reciting the Gurbani, that I am beginning to feel that I have been put on this earth for a purpose. I now know what that purpose is. To help bring forward the youth of today who will be a powerful force in the future and hence approach the Millennium in the Gurus Way.
This is no easy task. There are so many young Sikhs out there who have the roots imbedded within them, but like all roots they need to be nurtured and helped to grow. They should be told about the battles fought for us with such vigour and might. Women should be proud of the fact that the Gurus taught equality and recognised us as equal to men. Mai Bhago was testimony to that. This list of achievements by Sikhs are never ending and it is the young who will make the Khalsa the supreme cause that it once was.
Why was the Khalsa founded? Because of the persecution of mankind. A unity was needed to give people a common aim and purpose in life. Hence The Khalsa came into being which was free from any form of prejudice. The Panj Piarae offered their heads for this noble cause at a gathering of 80,000 and soon there were many followers. What is stopping us now in achieving this unity? Then they had the Guru but we still have Him now, maybe not in the flesh, but certainly in the Spirit. Why are we waiting for him to reappear to show us the way He is embodied in Guru Granth Sahib Ji. We need not look any further. Guru Ji is there before us.
Like Martin Luther King, I too have a dream. This dream sees a New Khalsa, which spreads Sikhi like a torrent of fire, destroying all evil in its path. I see children going to school, aspiring to make something of themselves, but with Gods Name in their hearts. An education is nothing if only used for ones own material gains. I have an education and now owe it to God to put that resource back into the community.
In my dream, Vaisakhi becomes like a day whose popularity is like Christmas and everywhere people greet each other with Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh! and say it with such passion and spiritual emotional. They know that they belong to a religion that is so great and that they are not just Sikhs because they were born into it.
Every Sikh shall sit together as equals and have langar, giving thanks to God that He has provided for us. We shall take our place in the sangat and encompass what the Gurus are telling us. We take it all for granted, but I hope there will come a day when people sit in front of Guru Granth Sahib Ji, in the hope of learning and not because parents have dragged us there or they want to learn the latest community gossip.
Still accusing the western culture for bringing ruin in Sikhi? The strength lies within us and it is only we who can make that difference. There are too many things to blame and it is so convenient for us to do that, but the blame lies with us. Only true faith in God can help us through life and its turmoils. By all means enjoy life, but do it according to the Gurus teachings. Make a start and once those initial steps have been made, the rest follows on easily, after all Rome was not built in one day!
We need to see Sikhi as a way of life. I am now beginning to feel that there is so much to do yet so little time for me to become a true Sikh. When you climb a ladder, it is better to do it step by step. The same can be said with Sikhi, slow and steady wins the race. As Sikhs we should question why are things the way they are and what part can we play to make ourselves better Sikhs. And finally, I see myself going back and answering that question I was asked about why we wear the Kara. I say to all you Sikhs out there, Give up the dream, lets make it a REALITY!
Lets make this Millennium the new beginning for the Khalsa!!
Mandeep Kaur Thind