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Keeping My Bodily Kesh (Hair) And Getting Used To The Gazes

Discussion in 'Sikh Youth' started by marcinat, Feb 8, 2010.

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For Sikh females: Do you keep all your body hair

  1. Yes, always have

    10 vote(s)
    30.3%
  2. Yes, but haven't always

    13 vote(s)
    39.4%
  3. No, but I used to

    2 vote(s)
    6.1%
  4. No

    9 vote(s)
    27.3%
  1. marcinat

    marcinat
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    When people ask me about my long hair, I tell them that I have never cut it because of my religion.

    That is true about the hair on my head, but not about the hair elsewhere on my body. That is - I have shaved, waxed, and threaded. Does this make me a bad person?

    I am not sure. Clearly, 98% of the rest of "my world" - particularly the females - remove their body hair. And most of these people are not, necessarily, "bad".

    Do I feel guilty about it? To be honest - not really. It was something I went through to fit in. But my actions were still in line with Sikhi: nam japna, vand chakna, kirt karni.

    About 2 years ago, after much meditation, I slowly stopped these hair-removing processes. It wasn't something that I woke up and immediately decided. It just kind of happened. And with Guru's grace, I have been entirely okay with it.

    The only thing that has taken some getting used to is the stares. I generally keep my body covered, but I also like to swim. My swimming suit, if you will, involves shorts and a t-shirt. A lot of people - especially women - stare at my legs. It's as though they are willing me to feel bad about my choice to keep my hair.

    Yet I do not give in to their desire to make me feel ashamed. I actually find my choice liberating and motivating, not to mention economical. Sikhs are supposed to be leaders - leaders do not care about what other people think when they know what they are doing in their heart is right. I am also saving money on these "cosmetic supplies" - money that adds up when you notice that the "treatments" are lifelong. Is there a reason that our hair keeps growing back no matter how much we try to stop it? Why not give in to the way Waheguru has made our bodies?

    The most exciting part about this, however, is the opportunities it brings up to educate my brothers and sisters. When I catch people, especially children, staring at me, I look back and smile. If these people ask me questions, I have this golden chance to explain to people that I am a Sikh, and talk about the basic principles of our religion.

    Several years ago, when I did shave my legs, I did not have this confidence. Now, ironically, when I am subject to public scrutiny, I do believe - in myself, in humanity, in Waheguru.
     
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    #1 marcinat, Feb 8, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 14, 2012
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  3. spnadmin

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    Re: Getting used to the gazes

    marcinat ji

    You know I have never understood the fixation regarding hair on a woman's legs. Albeit it is a norm to shave one's legs in parts of North America. But that norm is often ignored by African American women who typically do not shave their legs. So there are plenty of examples around to make this less "fascinating" than it seems to be. Many women of immigrant stock in the US do not shave their legs. In South America and Central America it is a variable norm -- some women do and some do not. In Europe -- shaving your legs is optional. And in Italy members of my family, like many other italian women, do not shave their legs, as Italian women are very likely to keep their hair on their legs.

    What is this about? It is crazy! Sikh or not Sikh -- people really need to lighten up. How superficial can we get? The earthquake in Haiti - among other disasters and catastrophes in the world -- should have been a cold shower for people who need to get over some stuff.

    There! I feel better now having said all of that. Catharsis!
     
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    #2 spnadmin, Feb 8, 2010
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  4. BhagatSingh

    BhagatSingh Canada
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    Those women feel jealous, how come she gets to save time and money by not indulging in useless sometimes painfull practices over the long run?!! :cool:
     
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  5. marcinat

    marcinat
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    Re: Getting used to the gazes

    Thanks for your thoughts, Narayanjot Kaur ji and BhagatSingh ji. You both just put a huge smile on my face. :)

    I actually have yet to see a non-Sikh woman who doesn't shave... but that is fascinating!

    And I agree - there are much larger issues to deal with in this world. Perhaps even my post was irrelevant considering all that is going on in Haiti, and the spiritual challenges people face on a daily basis... but I was just hoping to get some more thoughts on some of the challenges/benefits of keeping hair, especially in the West. Please continue commenting!
     
  6. spnadmin

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    Re: Getting used to the gazes

    marcinat ji

    You know after posting I had the uneasy feeling that you might think I was suggesting your post was "irrelevant." Forgive me - I should have clarified that I was not suggesting that at all.

    My high level of irritation comes from my experience largely on this forum. It seems to me that those who shave are significantly more "anxious" about hair OMG than those who do not shave.

    It borders on an obsession. Except for one or two people who no longer post here at SPN, not one single keshdhari Sikh has taken the first shot at those who shave. In my real world off the Internet there is none of this observing and weighing the person. Keshdhari Sikhs carry on. Shaven Sikhs carry on. No bickering that I have noticed. So when I read your post I thought -- you know this obsession with hairy legs, underarms, eye-brows, etc. by those who shave goes too far sometimes.

    When was the last time you made a point to check the hair on someone's legs (general not personal question)? That is my point. Those who are perpetually on "hair patrol" have too little of importance in their lives.
     
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  7. newkid

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    Re: Getting used to the gazes

    I'm the only one who voted they've always kept their hair.:D Most people have always found it odd that I usually don't shave but I'm not alone. (I've met two other girls like me.) Women are always expected to be hairless..actually guys are too. When my friend wears shorts people always tell him he should shave. But when he does people still have something to say about it. It's ridiculous, but it's never really bothered me.


    I agree
     
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  8. Mai Harinder Kaur

    Mai Harinder Kaur
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    I'm number two of the always hair-keepers. I haven't had a lot of problems of a major sort - to me - since high school. High school wasbad, but I managed to maintain an attitude of aloof superiority that made the other girls sort of back off. Egotistical, I guess, but being a teenager is hard.

    Nowadays, I enjoy explaining about kesh. My legs are rarely seen outside my home and my underarms never except in my doctors' offices. My medical caregiver, a born-again, spirit-filled Christian was curious, so I explained that it was a requirement of my religion. With an air of aloof superiority she retorted that in her religion, they were saved by grace, not such legalisms. Then she asked what would be done to a Sikh who removed her hair. "Nothing," I replied. "Don't you believe that God would punish her?" "No, we don't believe God punishes people; we don't obey God from fear. Keeping my kesh is an act of love." She gave me an uncertain look. I could go on, but that's enough, I think, to make my point.

    Now about that little post-menopausal mustache and those few stray chin hairs...
     
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  9. Admin Singh

    Admin Singh
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    Mai Ji, we would love to the read full conversation of yours with your medical caregiver... :happy:
     
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  10. spnadmin

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    Mia ji's care-giver may be one of those who is always on hair-patrol. Maybe also other kinds of patrol's.
     
  11. Caspian

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    Keeping my kesh is an act of love. - Mai Harinder Kaur

    Its been a long time since i've posted on this site. I've mostly been a lurker :p. But as a Sikh who has never cut his hair (although i've wanted too for years) I've spent a lot of time contemplating the Irony of the situation.

    As Harinder Kaur mentioned. "God does not punish" a person for cutting his/her hair. What exactly is keeping us Sikh's from cutting our hair then? (I wont even mention how many sikh Parents would be first to try to "punish" their kids for their actions (cutting hair) while acknowledging that God would not do the same. My Parents are the only thing keeping me from cutting my hair).

    My sister once did her eyebrows—My dad had a hissy fit. And the whole time I was wondering, "Is God going to punish her?" If not, whats the point? You say you keep your hair out of love, love towards what? I can only assume (and feel free to correct me if I'm wrong) that your one of the Sikh's who believe we keep our hair because "Our bodies are a Gift from god; therefore they are sacred and should not be abused. Cutting our hair constitutes abuse of the body." That's certainly the answer that's been given to me more often then not

    But if thats the answer, why do we cut our fingernails? :p (Pause! Think about that! If your one of the Sikh's who believe we shouldn't cut our hair because God gave us this hair then question that belief the next time you cut your fingernails. It's a valid philosophical point IMO).

    I think the only reason why we keep our hair is because Guru Ji's said so. And beyond that, there is no good reason. Guru Ji's could have said "you must never cut your finger nails" and we would be trying to justify why it is we keep our fingernails today if that was the case. It just so happened that they chose hair, Hair was an arbitrary choice at that, their is nothing intrinsically good about keeping it.

    This is similar to "Euthyphro's Dilemma" (Google it, if your unfamiliar with its significance)

    EDIT
    Ofcourse, as Sikhs, we want there to be something "intrinsically good" about keeping our hair. That is why we give justifications like the one I dealt with above. It would be rather unsettling to admit to ourselves that tens of thousands of fellow Sikhs over the generations have lost their lives over an "arbritary choice." Unfortunately, that's exactly what I'm saying.
     
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  12. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    Welcome back Caspian ji. I have always appreciated your lively writing and your wit. Even when I was a "lurker." Good to see you posting once again. :welcome:
     
  13. Caspian

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    Lol. I wasn't aware that people knew me here :p (Seeing as I've only made 10 posts, lol 3 of which happened today) But yeah, I'll be around for a long time now.
     
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  14. Mai Harinder Kaur

    Mai Harinder Kaur
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    Caspian ji,

    I did Google. I will be totally honest. I keep my hairs - all of them - because my Guru asks this of me. I love Guru ji. Here I am referring specifically to my spiritual father, Guru Gobind Singh ji. Please do not confuse him with Akaal Purakh. That sort of thing always greatly annoyed him. There are many other good reasons to keep kesh, but, in the end, they are just unnecessary distractions.

    Keeping all my hair is my happy duty as a Sikh and an aspiring Khalsa. Other people in other religions or no religion live by different rules. I have nothing to say about them.

    Akaal Purakh loves me because Akaal Purakh loves. It has nothing to do with what I do or don't do.

    As to fingernails, I don't concern myself about it personally, but since I am often asked this question, I do have an answer. In fact, I have several answers. First, my Guru doesn't ask this of me, so it is not a moral issue to me. Clearly, never cutting the nails would impede my ability to live properly. Our ancestors didn't have this problem. They worked hard using their hands constantly. The nails naturally stayed short and didn't need cutting.

    Another thing I an asked is, "If you say you do this or that because your Guru asks you of it, what if he asked you to do something you personally found immoral?" The point is that he would never ask anything immoral or unnecessary of me. He would never tell me I must have sex with my Dad or torture my pet dog.

    If I should find that what is asked of me is morally repugnant, I could only conclude that this is the wrong religion for me. This actually was the case when my mpother's family tried to make a Christian of me. I could not accept the Christian beliefs about God and I managed (with malice aforethought) to get unceremoniously thrown out of the church when I explained to a drunken little priest who wreaked of tobacco exactly what I thought and why.

    I have found nothing that Guru ji asks of me to be of questionable morality, nor have I found anything silly there. I believe I am in the right religion for me. My beliefs are simple and straightforward. I try to keep Sikhi as simple and pure as I can, I am not a philosopher; I am just an ordinary, everyday, garden variety Sikh (if any Sikh is ever ordinary!)

    BTW, I like my hairs, each and every one of them.
     
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  15. Astroboy

    Astroboy Malaysia
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    About getting used to the gazes, you're a celebrity if you don't look back. There is a secret here I want to share. If you are already successful in receiving alot of (energy) gazes, then people are debiting their accounts and crediting yours. Have enough credits and this energy will be converted into a successful life for you.

    But if you're pay attention on people with a wandering eye, then you're debiting your account and giving away the 'goodies' to them. It is a kind of a automated Energy Transfer Machine at work all the time. Ever since I stopped looking back, my life has made a turnabout for the better and I feel like a celebrity.:happysingh:
     
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  16. Caspian

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    To Mai Harinder Kaur

    (I wanna apologize in advance incase I offend, I'm not your garden variety Sikh, I'm more of a philosopher :p but since this is "SikhPhilosophy.net" I hope there is some overlap we can achieve)

    You keep your hair because it is asked of you. Furthermore, you find that what is asked of you is not morally outrageous so your okay with adhering to it. That's fine with me, but I will try to show you how it might just be morally outrageous. It logically dubious at worst in my opinion, ill explain that too.

    In my opinion, Something doesn't have to be morally outrageous for us to question or even disregard it. Something just has to be "logically dubious" for us to question or disregard it. The 5 k's are some of those things that I do not find "morally outrageous" but I find them "logically dubious." And all of us would like to believe that the Sikh religion is a logical religion.

    Lets deal with Logic first:
    The reason I brought up "Eurythpro's Dilemma" was because it was a sort of preemptive response to one of two positions. Either 1) I keep my hair because god has given me this hair or 2) I keep my hair because my Guru asks me too (which is your position). In the latter case (your case), we are acknowledging the arbitrary nature of this decision to keep hair (meaning, there was no reason for Guru Ji to keep his hair...if he has a reason, then that would be your reason as well. But since your reason is "Because Guru Ji says so" then Guru Ji himself had no reason. Unless he kept his hair because he said so—but that's circular logic). Hence, why I think it is logically dubious.

    Morals now:
    The problem is, as I have mentioned above in my "Edit." If the choice, by Guru Ji, to keep hair was arbitrary, then many Sikhs have died without reason. Sikh's like to believe that there is more to their hair (and their identity) then that. So when you say "I keep my hairs - all of them - because my Guru asks this of me" while simultaneously acknowledging that God does not punish those who cut their hair (safe to assume that God does not reward those who keep their hair either because an absence of a reward is a punishment in, and of itself, for those who dont) then we are in a horrible position where we have to somehow account for or give a good reason for why dieing over the "Sikh identity" is justifiable. And in that case, saying something like "because, Guru Ji, asks this of me" may actually put Guru Ji in a morally outrageous position? (The morally outrageous position being a choice between keeping hair or death—which might seem like a hypothetical situation but given our sikh history, both me and you know that this is anything but). If there dieing in the name of the Sikh Identity, there must be more to it then simply "It was asked of us." (Although, honestly speaking, I don't think there is anything more to it then that. I know of a story where Guru Gobind Singh Ji asked for a soldier to test his rifle on. Two came running out begging the Guru to fire on them. In the end he didn't fire on either; instead, the point was to show the bravery of his Sikh soldiers. I would argue then, the entire sikh religion after Guru Gobind Singh Ji revolves around the idea that "You must do what your told. Regardless of the logic behind it" and if thats the case, we have no justification for why it is we do what we do.)

    I have found nothing that Guru ji asks of me to be of questionable morality, nor have I found anything silly there. - Mai Harinder Kaur

    So I guess what I'm trying to say is, if you put yourself in the position of a sikh facing that situation—does your choice to keep your hair become a "moral issue" then? If so, is their a clear cut answer, should one die for their identity? Or is this questionable morality?
     
  17. Mai Harinder Kaur

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    Caspian ji,

    I am not offended in the least. I'm not really allergic to philosophy; it's just not the basis of my faith. I understand why I live as I do in the Sikh sense; to me it is perfectly logical. (There are logic systems other the than the Western Aristotelian logic, the A and ~A thing. And a life lived totally by deductive logic would be dry and colourless, indeed.)

    You really asked the right person this question. This is not a hypothetical situation to me; I, along with those I love the most were in this predicament in Delhi, Nov., 1984.

    Of course, it was a moral issue. We were Khalsa. We had made vows we held sacred, keeping kesh among them. We few kept our kesh and the other kakkars while the others chose to "cut and run" and hide. To us, our Sikh identity was that "something to live for, great enough to die for." We did what we did and now I live - without my husband and son and two of my brothers. Should one die for one's identity? That depends on the individual. For us, there was no question. Some things are more important to us than the continued life of the physical being.
    :happykaur::happysingh:


    For those who shed their identity, there seemed to be no question. Yet we reached opposite conclusions. BTW, you can never know how you'll react until you are actually in the situation. You may think you know where you stand, but I think it's impossible to really know without being there.


    Life is often like that. I ask no one to live the way I live, in fact, it's perfectly OK with me if no one even understands why I choose to live as I do. The physical Sikh identity is deeply meaningful to me. If it is not to someone else, I respect that. No adult should ever be coerced to wearing the roop of the Sikh.

    I could say much more, but it's Amrit vela and I really want to get to my prayers.

    Catch you on the flip-flop, ji.

    :happykaur:
     
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  18. Caspian

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    I understand, philosophy cant really be the basis for any faith :p philosophy is constantly questioning. Its amazing you were actually in that position and I cant imagine what you must have gone through. But again, when you say things like:

    "To us, our Sikh identity was that "something to live for, great enough to die for."
    "Some things are more important to us than the continued life of the physical being."
    "The physical Sikh identity is deeply meaningful to me."

    I can't help but think "why?" and the answer "because my Guru asks this of me" just doesn't seem sufficient. I'm not saying your wrong in your belief, you may very well be right—but the reasoning is iffy. It's safe to assume that what applies to you in the above three statements also applies to the Guru Ji's themselves (they must also believe in the validity of those three statements). And if one was to ask them "why" there is no way they can give the same answer as you did (because my Guru asks this of me). So even if you are right, and the Sikh Identity is "great enough to die for" "more important than the continued life of the physical being" and "deeply meaningful" then it is so, not because the Gurus ask this of you, but for some other unknown reason. So I just want to reiterate, I'm not saying your wrong in your belief, there's no way anyone can really be wrong in their belief, but in my opinion you may be wrong in your reasoning. But I figure, the belief is more then enough for you, reasoning is unnecessary. And this goes back to the whole idea that the Sikh religion is essentially: "Do what your told to do, regardless of the logic behind it." Which is not really a blow to you or the religion itself. But to any Sikh who thinks their religion is logical/rational, that's a hard pill to swallow.
     
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  19. Taranjeet singh

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    A 'sikh' is supposed to keep the hairs.If one does not ,obviously, one would find the reasons ,and justifiable too, to convince as to why it is not important for keeping the hairs.

    A sikh who loves his Guru also follows the teachings of the Guru. Such a pure hearted Sikh is called as 'Khalsa' ,the personification of the Guru.He is ,as per the Guru, his other-self.A sikh keeps the Flag of the guru flying high.

    Whenever there is a temptation to do something like this one must ask from oneself a question:" Have I got the right to lower the flag of the Guru and still be in the sanctuary of the Guru?"

    Having asked this question one will find an honest answer for one-self and should be guided by his/her conscience.
     
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  20. bscheema

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    :yes:i was mona b4 nd nw im keeping my hair nt becoz sombdy said to do so jst becoz i felt incomplete without thm nw im :happysingh:
     
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  21. Caspian

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    @ Taranjeet Singh

    A 'sikh' is supposed to keep the hairs.If one does not ,obviously, one would find the reasons ,and justifiable too, to convince as to why it is not important for keeping the hairs.


    "A sikh is supposed to keep the hairs." is not a reason why a sikh is supposed to keep the hairs. And in the absence of reason i'm not exactly looking for reasons to justify why it is not important for keeping the hairs. Im pointing at the "absence of reason" itself and saying "thats justification enough that it is not important for keeping the hairs." Ofcourse, I'll admit whenever I have been given reasons for why its important, I've found them inadequate as well.

    Reasons
    1) Your just supposed to keep your hairs
    2) Your hair is sacred as it is part of your body
    3) Our Guru's ask us too
    4) To create a unique identity to distinguish ourselves from other religions.

    My Logic :p
    1) Not a reason
    2) What about finger nails?
    3) Is that why the Guru's kept their hair?
    4) Awfully ironic for a religion that set out to unite everyone regardless of religion.

    A sikh who loves his Guru also follows the teachings of the Guru.

    A muslim who loves his Prophet also follows the teachings of the Qu'ran
    A christian who loves his Messiah also follows the teachings of the Bible

    A biology student on the other hand, doesnt have to love the teacher to follow the teachings :p If the teachings make sense to the student, then it doesnt matter who said them: Guru, Prophet, Messiah or Teacher. I'd argue that it's the same with religions. You follow the teachings because the teachings make sense (in my case, I dont think the 5 k's make sense). If your following the teachings, because you love the teacher—that's blind faith. And although I find nothing inherently wrong with the sikh faith. Blind faith is a dangerous position to be in, regardless of the religion. I'm not saying that you cant love the teacher (by all means go ahead :p the Guru's were great examples of what Human Being's ought to be like) but you cannot use that as your sole reason to follow the teachings.

    I've heard many people refer to the "student-teacher" relationship in sikhism.

    A Sikh is a follower of Sikhism. The word Sikh is derived from the Sanskrit word shishya which means disciple or student. - Sikhiwiki

    In order to sustain your belief that sikhs are just "supposed to do it" one would have to put an asterik beside the word "Student" and mention: "Student: They do as there told, regardless of the logic behind it" (I know, I cant repeat it enough, but thas cuz I dont disagree with any of you, I'm just saying your positions are similar to those—and if they are, I guess i was hoping they wouldn't be. I Guess my "western" idea of "student" seems to run contrary to the eastern idea of a "student" :p). Cuz if a student is essentially their to just listen and follow—I fail... even in philosophy class :p (Along with all major Prophets, Messiah's and Guru's who opted not to simply "Listen and Follow")
     
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