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A Ritual Slowly Unravels In India

Discussion in 'Sikh Sikhi Sikhism' started by prabhsmart, Mar 30, 2009.

  1. prabhsmart

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    A Ritual Slowly Unravels In India

    Alarm Grows as More Sikh Youths Give Up Turbans

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    Amandeep Singh Saini, in white, cut his hair and discarded his turban, the most visible symbol of Sikh identity, at 14. (Rama Lakshmi - The Washington Post)






    By Rama Lakshmi
    Washington Post Foreign Service
    Sunday, March 29, 2009; Page A11


    CHANDIGARH, India -- Text messaging with one hand and holding a cup of milky tea in the other, spiky-haired Amandeep Singh Saini, 27, recalled the year-long battle he waged against his traditional Sikh parents to cut his hair.
    The act was blasphemous to his father, who tied his long hair in a turban, the most visible marker of Sikh identity.
    "I was 14 then. I wanted to jump into the village pool and play in mud. The long hair and the turban were always in the way. It took half an hour to tie the turban every morning," said Saini, a student pursuing a doctorate in Punjabi literature.
    After he cut his hair and discarded the turban, his two brothers followed suit. "My mother wept, my father was angry, but I was stubborn," he said. "At that age, you don't think about right and wrong. I look around the campus today, and there are so few turbaned Sikhs."
    The rapidly shrinking number of young Sikhs who wear turbans and have unshorn hair has alarmed many in this religious minority of 20 million. Although there are no formal surveys, community groups say that only 25 percent of Sikhs younger than 30 follow the practice. Many young Sikhs say the daily tedium of combing and tying up their long hair and a desire to assimilate are pushing them to give up the turban, a sacred symbol of a religion founded in the 15th century.
    Now, a court case about college admission quotas for Sikhs is threatening to alienate hundreds of thousands of short-haired, un-turbaned youths.
    In August, four students petitioned the high court after they applied to a medical college under a Sikh quota but were denied admission. The college said the students, who had cut their hair, did not fit in the category of Sikh. In the ongoing legal proceedings, religious bodies and scholars have testified about the importance of uncut hair to Sikhism.


    "The case is about college admission quotas, but it has become part of dinner table conversations everywhere. People are asking, 'What am I? What will I be after the judgment?' It is unsettling," said Gurminder Singh Gill, an attorney for the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee, an elected forum of the Sikh clergy that runs the college and whose rules are designed to prevent the dilution of Sikh symbols. "The court ruling will impact future interpretations of the word 'Sikh.' "
    Three hundred years ago, devout Sikh men and women were urged to demonstrate their commitment by not cutting their hair and by carrying a sword, comb and a bracelet. They were given the name "Singh," which means lion in Hindi, as a mark of common brotherhood that eliminates caste distinctions.
    Faced with the recent decline in turban-wearers, the community is thinking up ways to draw young people back to the tradition.
    A group called Akal Purakh Ki Fauj, or the Army of the Timeless Being, organizes the annual Turban Pride Day in April, sends volunteers to schools to teach turban-tying and has introduced a software program called the Smart Turban that helps people pick a style that suits them.
    Since 2005, the group has held Mr. Singh International, a beauty pageant for turbaned Sikhs. Among other talents, contestants must demonstrate their turban-tying skills. The winners have won modeling contracts and movie roles.
    "We need more turbaned role models for our young," said Navnit Singh, a member of the group. To this end, he recently launched a 6-year-old turbaned cartoon character, Rony Singh.
    "Rony Singh is a whiz kid and loves playing with gadgets. He can get his friends out of any sticky situation," Singh said. "He will be competing with Pokemon, Tintin and all the superheroes. I want kids to think the turban is cool."
    Turbans come in a variety of colors and styles, including polka-dotted and tie-dyed. Shops even sell ready-made turbans. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, a Sikh who was educated at Oxford University, wears a blue turban, and a popular cricket player started a fad by matching his turbans and ties.
    In the early 1980s, Sikh religious extremists insisted on turbans and beards as an assertion of pride. Then, in 1984, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards after she sent the army to the Golden Temple, a revered Sikh shrine, to rout radicals holed up inside. Angry Hindus retaliated by targeting turbaned Sikhs, killing and burning thousands alive on the streets of the capital, New Delhi. In the following years of armed militancy and bloodshed, Indian police crushed the movement.
    "There were widespread human rights violations. Young men with turbans or with Sikh names were more vulnerable to being picked up and thrown into illegal detention. Many Sikhs cut their hair and discarded their identity to escape police brutality," said Ishwinder Singh Chadha, a member of the Institute of Sikh Studies. "In the 1990s, turbaned Sikhs were caricatured in TV shows and movies, and young Sikhs lost pride in their identity."
    Rajvinder Singh Bains, a human rights lawyer, said that like many Sikhs, he responded with jubilation when Gandhi was assassinated and mourned when Sikhs were massacred. But he wears his hair short.
    "Why fuss over external symbols?" Bains asked. "They say Sikh men have to grow their hair and wear turbans, and women cannot remove their body hair or trim their eyebrows. Is that what we want to reduce Sikhism to?"
    Back in the college cafeteria, Saini and a turbaned friend, Sukhjeet Singh Sandhu, discussed their faith over another round of tea.
    "I am a Sikh because my faith runs deep in my heart," Saini said.
    "Every fold of the turban of a devout Sikh is like a historical chapter of his blood-soaked history, which every Sikh carries with him with great pride and dignity," said Sandhu, 26.
    But he trimmed his beard, he said, because "campus life demands it."
     
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  3. prabhsmart

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    What do every one of us think about this, read and give us ur reply.:advocate:
     
  4. Gyani Jarnail Singh

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    Such stories routinely roll off the Indian Press...the "previous one "making the rounds is hardly a few months old...that also originated from Amritsar.
    Looks like the anti-dote is also slowly rolling off....the International Turbans Day...etc campaigns are getting more publicity..
    This is a peer pressure...role models...tv/bollywood..advertising..etc etc..so much massalla..all taking their toll on the youth....will take time to slow down..hopefully. The Sikh Authorities/sgpc/akalidal/gurdwaras ALL have neglected their ROLE...badly....and this is the result.
    On the opposite side..Western Sikhs..3HO..and all....are streaming into Sikhi with Full Dastars and Banna..men women and children....in ever INCREASING NUMBERS...a paradigm shift is taking place..soon NON-Punjabi SIKHS may outnumber Punjabi Sikhs....
     
  5. spnadmin

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    I say thank you prabhsmart ji. :star::star::star::star::star:
     
  6. Archived_Member4

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    Now come on guys, all this talk and no one is going to mention the unique picture to it. It surely got me laughing :rofl!!::rofl!!:But then I remebered its a different culture and have seen guys holding hands in India when they walk together. Or could it be that India just found out guys can like guys. Just joken. Don't bite my head off.:D
     
  7. dalbirk

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    I think overall it is in lack of awareness of as to why keeping hair unshorn is important among the youth that we r facing the situation today . This has been propagated by Hindu mainstram media that being CLEAN SHAVEN is more cool , whereas the turban & long hair r made fun of . This has been made worse by Deras , Sadh-Sants , Babas who try it utmost to break the youth from Hair , so they can be detached from the SHABAD GURU & attached with themselves . But the biggest fault is of parents who themselves have very-very little knowledge of religion & Rehat Maryada . The parents r busy in their economic pursuits that they do not think religious teachings have any role to play in day to day life .
    IMHO if each & every Sikh is made aware of SIKH REHAT MARYADA & the message of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji in very brief booklets , tracts or via Email etc , this can certainly do wonders . I have seen it myself big alcohalics , drug addicts getting reformed after proper guidance .
     
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  8. spnadmin

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    ਹਉ ਗੋਸਾਈ ਦਾ ਪਹਿਲਵਾਨੜਾ ॥
    ho gosaaee dhaa pehilavaanarraa ||
    I am a wrestler; I belong to the Lord of the World.


    ਮੈ ਗੁਰ ਮਿਲਿ ਉਚ ਦੁਮਾਲੜਾ ॥
    mai gur mil ouch dhumaalarraa ||
    I met with the Guru, and I have
    tied a tall, plumed turban.


    ਸਭ ਹੋਈ ਛਿੰਝ ਇਕਠੀਆ ਦਯੁ ਬੈਠਾ ਵੇਖੈ ਆਪਿ ਜੀਉ ॥੧੭॥
    sabh hoee shhinjh eikatheeaa dhay baithaa vaekhai aap jeeo ||17||
    All have gathered to watch the wrestling match, and the Merciful Lord Himself is seated to behold it. ||17||


    ਵਾਤ ਵਜਨਿ ਟੰਮਕ ਭੇਰੀਆ ॥
    vaath vajan ttanmak bhaereeaa ||
    The bugles play and the drums beat.


    ਮਲ ਲਥੇ ਲੈਦੇ ਫੇਰੀਆ ॥
    mal lathhae laidhae faereeaa ||
    The wrestlers enter the arena and circle around.


    ਨਿਹਤੇ ਪੰਜਿ ਜੁਆਨ ਮੈ ਗੁਰ ਥਾਪੀ ਦਿਤੀ ਕੰਡਿ ਜੀਉ ॥੧੮॥
    nihathae panj juaan mai gur thhaapee dhithee kandd jeeo ||18||
    I have thrown the five challengers to the ground, and the Guru has patted me on the back. ||18||


    ਸਭ ਇਕਠੇ ਹੋਇ ਆਇਆ ॥
    sabh eikathae hoe aaeiaa ||
    All have gathered together,


    ਘਰਿ ਜਾਸਨਿ ਵਾਟ ਵਟਾਇਆ ॥
    ghar jaasan vaatt vattaaeiaa ||
    but we shall return home by different routes.

    ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਲਾਹਾ ਲੈ ਗਏ ਮਨਮੁਖ ਚਲੇ ਮੂਲੁ ਗਵਾਇ ਜੀਉ ॥੧੯॥
    guramukh laahaa lai geae manamukh chalae mool gavaae jeeo ||19||
    The Gurmukhs reap their profits and leave, while the self-willed manmukhs lose their investment and depart. ||19||


    SriRaag, Guru Arjan Dev ji
     
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  9. BhagatSingh

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    Sounds like a good reason to me. Turbans can get uncomfortable.
     
  10. spnadmin

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    Not as uncomfortable as the 5 thieves. :)
     
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  11. prabhsmart

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    Bhagat singhji Turban will only get unconfortable when u wear it because u have to. earlier i used to dream about cutting hairs and so everything was a problem for me, my haevy hair or my big bear. but now when i am on my Guruji's path,nothing is more important for me other than by turban and beared. i have improve ways to wear one and suggest u to experinment .
    Turban is the most beautyful thing that evr happen to be given to us by God.
     
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  12. Gyani Jarnail Singh

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    Clothes too are uncomfortable...especially the Western Coat and tie set up....
    just ask the nudists...... lying around at any Beach.......I DID. IF they had their way..they wouldnt be wearing any of those uncomfortable things..called clothes...:u):
     
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  13. pk70

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    I applaud these feelings wrapped in Guru Gobind Singh ji's love who infused courage into his followers to dare to stand alone in thousands.:thumbup:
     
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  14. Harpreet_Singh_

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    I gave my head to the Guru, if he would have wear a dastaar...I would gladly do so.

    Those sikhs who choose not to wear one, should not be outcasted by keshdhari sikhs. IMHO...keshdhari or even amritdhari sikhs should extend the brotherhood of Sikhi irregardless of the person's apperance and spiritual progress. I'm sure there are lot of Sikhs who want to keep their hair, but are too weak on their own do so. I was one.
     
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  15. Gyani Jarnail Singh

    Gyani Jarnail Singh Malaysia
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    Well said Harpreet Ji.
    IF we all can accept each other for what we are ( not just tolerate !! - I dislike the word tolerance...it is so patronizing...our aim should be ACCEPTANCE ) and each one knew exactly his/her place in our Community..we will all be one happy community. Looking down at soembody...snooty behaviour..holier than thou attitudes all breed discontent and trouble. We are better off without these.
    Thank you.
     
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  16. BhagatSingh

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    Ooh definitely not.

    And Jarnail Singh ji, I wudn't mind if we all decided to give up the idea of clothes. It seems as if this trend has begun in hollywood, already. :D
    I have strong feeling agains the tie. Its like a strap/leash around your neck, the kind you would put around your dog.


    Prabhsmart ji, why not just keep long hair and forget the turban?
    We autmatically, relate taking off turban to cutting of hair, but in PUnjab its the exact opposite, everyone is cutting hair and wearing a turban. They think the turban is cool but long hair are backwards. I think the exact opposite, I think the turban is backwards (I also think the turban's cool), the hair are always going to be. You were born with them, you are going to die with them, but you are not born with a turban. The turban is a trend like any other, it will come and go. But I also think a turban is a good way to keep your hair nice and protected.
    Hair and turban do complement each other. Whereas, turban is the sign of royalty, hair show freedom. The cutting of hair is a form of control.

    Ooh, interesting note on the turban. Those people whose ears stick out should wear one from an early age if they want to avoid surgery later on. :)

    Jarnail Singh ji, I think we should accept people and tolerate their views.
     

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