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General kara

Discussion in 'Hard Talk' started by carolineislands, Mar 30, 2008.

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  1. carolineislands

    carolineislands
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    Here's my simple question: :rofl:

    Is there some significance to wearing the kara on the right arm? Why do some Sikhs wear two kara and some one on each arm?
     
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  3. svea00

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    Hi Caroline Ji!

    As I understood the point in wearing a kara, that you should wear it on your leading hand. So if you´re lefthanded it would mean on your left wrist. The meaning with the kara is to remind yourself about the sikh virtues and to act as a sikh with all your actions, that´s why to wear it on the leading hand.
    The only sikhs wearing a kara on both hands were amritharis. My guessing for the two or dubbel-kara-method... it´s more safe that way.
    Maybe some have a more qualified answer on this and safe me from this misbelief. :roll:
     
  4. Archived_Member1

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    also remember that originally, the Kara was used to protect the wrist from sword blows, so wearing it on the sword arm makes most sense. in gatka, people who use two swords at once probably wear two karas. :)

    i sometimes wear a kara on the right wrist and a steel mala on the left. sometimes i wear my kara on my left wrist because i have sensitive skin and get a rash where it rubs on my right wrist.

    i don't think wearing two is restricted to amritdharis, because i see a lot of young kids with two... i think it's just personal choice.

    i guess what i'm trying to say is it's not that big a deal which arm you wear it on, :)
     
  5. spnadmin

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    Just to add to the confusion:

    Some sects have men wear the kara on the right - the sun side; and women wear the kara on the left - the moon side. This is not my original thought -- so would appreciate escaping a lecture from well-meaning forum members. Here the thinking is that male and female polarities are right and left, respectively.

    I wear my kara on the left side because when I type -- which I do many hours of the day at work and on the forum - the kara bangs and bumps around. Then I switch to the right hand when I am not doing anything in particular.
     
  6. Archived_Member1

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    what sect is this?

    i have seen in punjab that a lot of women wear them on the left, but i never thought about why.

    i guess when i work in the kitchen mine is constantly banging on the counter, so it makes sense for someone who works with their hands to wear it on the left... of course, my kara is kind of big, so who knows. :)
     
  7. spnadmin

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    3HO. But don't mind me. My mind is full of tid-bits like this.
     
  8. dalsingh

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    That is the first time I've heard that "women wear it on their left and men on their right" thing.
     
  9. carolineislands

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    Thanks everybody. Although I am not amritdari, I do wear a kara. It was the first step I took when I decided that Sikhi was the path I wanted to spend the rest of my life on. I read that it was supposed to be worn on the right hand and that's where I wear it, except when I'm playing the harp I have to change it so it doesn't clank against the strings (sounds REALLY bad). :)

    Glad it's not some sort of disrespect to switch it around.

    My next simple question: :)

    What about makeup and jewelry? I see it on Punjabi Sikhs but rarely on Western Sikhs. What are all your thoughts?

    (this is fun) :)
     
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  10. spnadmin

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    Dalsingh ji

    Yes! I don't know anyone else who does that either.
     
  11. carolineislands

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    Oh, and what about henna on your hair? When the women here are at home, do you leave your dastar off? You never ever EVER go out without it?

    What about your clothes? Do you wear jeans and stuff?
     
  12. spnadmin

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    Caroline ji

    I think you are going to get an amazing range of answers. For example, yes the women at gurdwara wear toe nail polish!!!!! Yes they wear jeans and t-shirts. But mostly salwar kameez at gurdwara. No they don't wear dastar at gurdwara, they wear chunni. So do I. I don't know what they all wear at home. Probably whatever they want to wear.

    Punjabi women cover the complete range of experiences. All depends on the gurdwara and the norms of a particular community of Sikhs. The history of the community, how long the Sikh community has been in place, things like that. Attitudes are all over the place. The gurdwara and the Sikh community near to me is a post World War II situation. The first Sikhs to arrive were women who came to fill a nursing shortage in the US. They were career women. With middle of the road attitudes. I could go on about this, but it might be boring.
     
  13. carolineislands

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    I think it's very interesting. One of my Punjabi Sikh friends is a doctor and she has been in the United States for over 25 years. She calls me from time to time to come co-present a lecture or presentation and most of the time I am in salwar kameez with long hair, chunni and kara, and she is in an american style suit with dress shoes and short chic haircut. She often will start the presentation by saying how wonderful it is to her that I am wearing her uniform and she is wearing mine. It gets a good laugh but is never planned. She almost always dresses that way I me too.

    For me, it only took putting on salwar kameez one time and I never wanted to wear anything else. I sew some of them for myself now. They are so beautiful and comfortable and they sort of dance with you. I can't stand to wear jeans anymore.

    :)
     
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  14. spnadmin

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    You sew your own? I am impressed! That is how to get a perfect fit. It will be interesting to hear what Jasleen has to say because she is in a different part of the country.
     
  15. carolineislands

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    The only problem is that, to get the matching chunni of a lighter fabric you have to order special fabric. But if you're wearing dastar -- no problem. It's not to hard to find simple chunni type fabric but it won't be the same pattern as the salwar kammez if you're making cotton ones. There are lots of the polyester type fabrics that have matching chunni type fabric though. It's such a simple pattern. I haven't done one with needle work yet though -- that's next. But I'll have to get off this computer though -- otherwise I'll never have time!
     
  16. carolineislands

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    Another thing I see Panjabi Sikh women wearing is a nose ring! I used to have one and took it out a couple of years ago. My husband was happy -- he hated it!

    Seems like the 3HO Sikhs are especially natural -- no makeup, jewelry or anything!
     
  17. svea00

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    I think the difference between the punjabi sikhs and the 3ho sikh are, that the ones from Punjab try to become as western as they can and the 3ho are performing the more "orthodox "look.
    In my local Gurwara almost all women have a haircut or dye their hair with henna, wear make-up, jewlery including nose and earrings. They explained it to me like this, that it is a sort of showing off how wealthy and liberal you are. But there is also a amrithari that doesn´t wear make-up or jewlery apart from her kara and a dastaar. She´s also the only one with cotton fabric clothes, the others are more up to colourful synthetics with rich embroidery.
    As I understood the original message, you shouldn´t be attached with worldly things like jewlery or even looks. The message is clear that the way God made us is perfect and a sikh should respect that by leaving the body like it is, including kesh, not making holes for ear and noserings or other piercings.... (I myself have a nosering, a little one, that I have had for over 10 years now. It feels so natural to have one that I don´t take it out. The hole would be there anyway.)
    Another thing I´ve seen at the Gurdwara is that many sikhs, even the elderly ones have tattoos. Mostly an ek ongkar on the forearm or the hand. This is something you shouldn´t do either. But I guess their thinking is, to mark the body as Wahegurus or to have it as a permanent kara? :confused:

    Most of the punjabi sikhs seem to live quite a dubbel moral. I was told how got a belly piercing from their husband for birthday or that most of the amritharis there drink alcohol and eat meat (quite controversial anyway if you should or not, I know) and from time to time take amrit again to quite drinking for a while.
    I was at first a bit surprised and even dissapointed by the fact that Punjab is one of the states with the highest alcohol and meat consumption in India and the highes male/female rate...meaning the state with the highes female foetus abortion rate.

    Some weeks ago I was invited to a very nice punjabi family that went immediately to show me weddingvideos. Almost every man wore a dastaar, most had trimmed beards and all but a few drank whisky. I asked them why they wear dastaars and look like sikhs but don´t behave like sikhs. The answer was, that the dastaar to most of the punjabis is more a cultural or traditional thing and doesn´t represent one´s religiosity.

    For me it is actually more about dettachement and purity, but I still sometimes wear nailpolish for example, but I´m no amrithari either. I think that people converting to sikhism may feel more attached to the idea of purity and divine perfection of the body than the ones born into this belief. `Cos we chose to live that way.
    And it shows that we are all human.

    What do you think?
     
  18. pk70

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    sva00 Ji,

    Well said. Who chose are more serious about chosen faith; who are born in a faith, most of them but not all, fail to realize what they are missing. Once a heartily surrender to HIM happens, show off becomes immaterial. When inner side glows for love for HIm( as Sikhism teaches), outer appearance becomes
    insignificant.:)
    Gurbani repeatedly says a few will walk on this path heartily, show off will go on.
     
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  19. Randip Singh

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    Correct. 5 k's is essentially a Battle dress. Even the long hair in a knot can prevent head injury.

    The Kara would have been a wide piece of metal that protected the wrist when swords parried.
     
  20. carolineislands

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    I agree that it is often the case that converts to a given religion are usually the most gung-ho about the values and practices. That's probably true for obvious reasons -- to choose a religion means you were searching for something you needed and made a big change in your life when you found the path that provided those things. To be born in a certain faith has a lot of value too, because growing up with something gives a person certain kinds of knowledge that can't be attained at a later stage in life. By that I mean the sort of knowledge that comes from familiarity that results in someone being so comfortable with a certain concept or rhthym or musical scale or protocol that it almost comes without thinking. The drawback of that is many times people forget to think about it and it becomes dry, rote, and loses it's meaning. One Punjabi Sikh told me it was wonderful to see Western converts because they reminded him of the beauty of Sikhi and helped him to be more conscious of the meaning of the elements of his faith.

    It's really a nice melange when you think about it.

    I myself think of faith as a very personal thing and, even though I take into account the standards and regular man-made kind of protocol, I make my own decisions according to how God reveals it to me in my heart... my own conviction. I do that because I believe sincerity is the most important element of my actions in loving and serving my Creator, Waheguru, the one God. Sincerity drives motives and the motives are ultimately what determines the value of any action -- and I personally believe that is what my Lord cares about. And so, in the end, I make my decision according to what comes through as true and genuine, even if it is in conflict with the status quo.

    I personally don't think it's a sin to decorate yourself -- look at the beautiful Sikhs at some of the weddings you see!!! And some of the Nihang celebrations! The dastar itself -- wasn't that given to Sikhs because at that time only royalty could wear dastar? Isn't it a symbol of royalty then?

    I think the point is not to let the physical become more important than the spiritual. If any kind of decorating oneself was wrong, then we wouldn't be wearing many of the outward signs of a Sikh, right? If a person wears earrings and a little makeup because they enjoy decorating and wearing pretty things, that is different than being so concerned with how you look that it becomes more important than your relationship with your Guru... if you become shallow about it, or egotistical.

    That's what I think. I think, as with most all things in life, its your motives that counts most. I have a book called "The Sikhs" -- it is a beautiful coffee table sort of book with gorgeous pictures of Sikhs and the Punjab and a simple history of the people and faith. The front cover is a photo of Punjabi Sikh women all dressed in brightly colored salwar kameez with beautiful earrings and jewelry on their necks and foreheads and nose rings and painted toenails. They're just breathtakingly beautiful (but then, I think Indian women are some of the most beautiful women in the world!). Just gorgeous... I love it.

    Then again, I am just naive enough to believe that when a person desires to follow the Lord with a sincere heart, that Waheguru will show them the way that is right for them. And that is something between that person and their True Guru.

    Not really any of our business, in other words.

    But I do love to hear how different people practice their faith and what it means to them. So thanks all for your replies!
     
  21. spnadmin

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    Carolineislands ji

    The traditional place of the nose ring is as an adornment for the woman in a marriage ceremony. A bride traveled to the village of her husband's clan for a few days in an ox-drawn cart. The term was "loading and unloading the bride." There, she was shown off to the women of her husband's clan. Everyone wanted to see her face, her clothes and her jewelry. Any male older than her husband, in her husband's family and that often meant the entire village, was forbidden to see her face. In Old Punjab, after wedding festivities were over, the bride returned to her parents home, and then somewhat latter left again to live permanently with her husband's family. Most of the traditional jewelry worn as part of her wedding costume was taken off and kept in the Punjabi version of a safe. A special 4-legged chest.

    Today the nose ring is optional and I don't think I have seen even a picture of a woman wearing one in recent days.

    There are/were 3 different types of nose ring. Sometimes a bride wore more than one. If you are really interested in traditional dress and costume in the Sikh tradition before let's say 1970, you should definitely read the book East of Indus: My memories of Old Punjab by Gurnam Brard. It is an autobiography but reads like a history book. Each chapter is about something -- I learned so much -- about ordinary people, Sikhs and others, and their lives in the days of the Gurus, during the raj, before and after World War II, the partition and today.

    Actually I think the nose ring is cool but you have more nerve that I.
     

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