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New to Sikhism

Discussion in 'New to Sikhism' started by Harkiran Kaur, Jul 21, 2012.

  1. Harkiran Kaur

    Harkiran Kaur Canada
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    Hello! Gora here from Halifax, NS Canada.

    I am new to Sikhism and have some questions... but I'll give you a bit of background how I found this beautiful faith first:

    All through my life, I have had some deeply personal spiritual experiences that put my birth religion into question. Those were basically Out Of Body experiences and I always viewied them as a gift from God that brought me closer to my spirituality, but my birth religion (Catholic) thought differently. So I went on many years search....

    In my teens, I became interested in quantum physics and how it suggests that this world is an illusion, and that consciousness (not matter) is the base of all reality. Basically the deeper the look into matter... the more it dissolves into nothingness. I knew that somehow this was significant in relation to metaphysics. If the core of all reality is ONE pure consciousness (God) that means God is within us and everything. (totally not Catholic teachings)

    In my early 20's I joined the Navy and in one of my first foreign ports I bought a beautiful cd that I heard playing. It was a cd by Singh Kaur. That was my first introduction to Sikhism. About 10 years later I seriously started to study Sikhism, read the Guru Granth Sahib (in English) and was amazed when I found out it agrees with quantum physics about reality. It was my exact belief about God and the Universe! I was amazed how it told about countless galaxies and planets at a time when most of the world thought the Earth was flat! Thatthis reliaty is an illusion, and that there is ONE God within us and everything!

    I only recently (at 36) made the decision to contact the local Gurdwara. I was surprised when the president was very helpful and told me he had many offers from members to help me! And I was even more surprised to find a white Sikh here is a member... and he is very prominent in Canada through a run in politics. He has been answering questions for me, and wants to bring me to GUrdara this Sunday! EEEKK! I am SOOOOOO nervous!

    So my questions are:

    1. I was gifted a kara from a Sikh friend in the UK. Would it be disrespectful if I wore it? I obviously know the significance and meaning of it. I don't want to give the wrong idea...

    2. What do I wear? I have many plain cotton Indian long tunic tops (I wear them in the Summer because I burn easily and they are cool) would that be ok with a light scarf and loose kahki pants?

    3. I feel bad since my hair is not long (due to my career in the military) I have 4 yrs left then plan to grow it out... will I be looked down upon because of this? My hair is VERY difficult to deal with if I try to grow since its VERY curly naturally. I think the only way I could grow it out is if I could cover it ALL the time - which brings me to the next question...

    4. When I get out of the military in 4 years, could I wear a dastar? All Indian women Sikhs I have seen in person don't wear turbans... just a chunni at Gurdwara and nothing the rest of the time. Would that be very odd here in Canada... especially in the Maritimes? Would it be seen as over the top?

    5. Should I bow to Guru Granth Sahib on Sunday and how exactly do I do it (step by step)? lol sorry for the newbie questions!

    Of note: I already meditate at home, and starting to read bani - I am taking this as a step by step approach. Trying to get in the routine of getting up early for now... and concentrating on japji Sahib for now. Will add more later.

    Thanks in advance for any help!
     
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  3. Ishna

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    Welcome to SPN Akasha bhenji (sister)

    It's always nice to meet a fellow gori (white female) Sikh. :happykudi:

    It's really good that you're going to a Gurdwara Sahib! I hope you have a really enjoyable experience. Phoning ahead like you've done is a good idea, it's always a bit easier if you've got someone to show you around. It's always a bit nerve racking but you'll be fine. :)

    You don't have to wear it if you don't want to. You might want to save it until you feel Sikhi is definately something you'd like to get into. It wouldn't be a disrespect if you wore it.

    Yep, sounds good.

    You'll probably find half the sangat at the Gurdwara has cut hair. You'll also find clean shaven men. There are people at all stages along their Sikh journey at the Gurdwara.

    Lots of gori Sikhs wear dastaars. If you became amritdhari you could possibly wear a dastaas IN the military - I don't know if there's any Sikh precedent of dastaar in the military in Canada - you'll need to do some research.

    It's easy. Walk down the 'runway', wait your turn if there are people ahead of you, when it's your turn put your donation in the money box (any amount, or none if you're so inclined), get on your knees, bend forward touching your forehead on the ground for a few seconds, stand back up, put your hands together in respect, then move to the ladies side of the darbar (prayer hall) and sit down.

    When I bow, I put one hand against my chest to hold my chunni in place. The other hand is flat on the floor next to my head. Some women put both hands on the floor, some put the back of their hands on the ground with their palms facing upwards. That's the beauty of Sikhi, it's not so rule-bound as Islam for instance, where you have to turn your feet on certain angles. It doesn't matter. Speaking of feet, when you bow, you can have your toes bent or flat. I see more people with bent toes, but I go flat toes. It really doesn't matter. As long as you keep your head covered you'll be sweet.

    Here's another recent thread about visiting Gurdwara: http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/questions-and-answers/38797-visit-to-sikh-gurdwara.html

    welcomekaur
     
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  4. itsmaneet

    itsmaneet
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    Satsriakal Akasha !!

    First of all.... heartiest welcome to the ocean of knowledge & spirituality "Sikhism". welcomemunda

    As you your self experienced "Guru Granth Sahib Ji" is the only holy Granth that would stand to all the aspects of science. Saying this am not dis obeying other books/religions coz our Gurus taught us that all are good at their places. It's upto us to decide which one is better & can make you meet with Waheguru 'Almighty'.

    Coming to your questions -

    1. I was gifted a kara from a Sikh friend in the UK. Would it be disrespectful if I wore it? I obviously know the significance and meaning of it. I don't want to give the wrong idea...

    It won't be disrectful if you wear it, infact when you get use to it you'll yourself get the feeling it's usefulness in strengthening your inner power, purifying your thoughts etc... wearing a steel kara is not only a religious matter but it again also have a scientific advantage that we can discuss later with time as it's a lengthy topic.


    2. What do I wear? I have many plain cotton Indian long tunic tops (I wear them in the Summer because I burn easily and they are cool) would that be ok with a light scarf and loose kahki pants?

    When a Sikh enters Gurudwara he never thinks on how he/she would look, what others will feel of him/her coz he/she is not going to Gurudwara to impress people or prove something instead he/she is going to please the Almighty & the Almighty is pleased with a pure, honest & humble prayer. Just wear normal clothes (sober) shouldn't be very showy & do not forget to cover your head with a piece of cloth.

    3. I feel bad since my hair is not long (due to my career in the military) I have 4 yrs left then plan to grow it out... will I be looked down upon because of this? My hair is VERY difficult to deal with if I try to grow since its VERY curly naturally. I think the only way I could grow it out is if I could cover it ALL the time - which brings me to the next question...
    Again when you are entering Gurudwara you are not there to prove yourself or impress any. You are there to please the Almighty. Just be humble, calm & composed. Regarding your short hair, make sure you cover it with a piece of cloth. Rest you can ask for a help from fello Sikhs there & am sure all will be very helpful to you.


    4. When I get out of the military in 4 years, could I wear a dastar? All Indian women Sikhs I have seen in person don't wear turbans... just a chunni at Gurdwara and nothing the rest of the time. Would that be very odd here in Canada... especially in the Maritimes? Would it be seen as over the top?
    Ahh...answer is again the same. Never bother about what others say. You should be confident & happy that you are pleasing the Almighty. For females, just keep chunni on your head or keep your hair covered somehow but never with a cap [wearing cap is a sin in Sikhism]


    5. Should I bow to Guru Granth Sahib on Sunday and how exactly do I do it (step by step)? sorry for the newbie questions!

    It's never a shame to bow before your Master. Even in navy/army you salute your senior. It's just to give respect. Further in Sikhism, Sikh would never force anyone to bow before Guru Granth Sahib Ji.....Most important than bowing head is that one should bow from heart towards the Guru. The day you'll accept Guru Granth Sahib Ji as your Guru/Master you'll never hesitate to bow before Guru Granth Sahib Ji. About how to bow, when you enter Gurudwara premises, notice how people doing it.

    I hope hope you'll find my views helpful & remember one thing when you are climbing a mountain you cannot reach the peak at first instance, it takes a lot efforts, difficulties etc. but the time you reach at the peak you feel the air that would make you forget all your difficulties on the way. So, just work on step by step & you'll get the right path by the blessings of "Waheguru"

    Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa
    Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh ....
     
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  5. Searching

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    Dear itsmaneet ji
    I do not think that anyone goes to Gurudwara to please God. To me its rather a feeling to have a connection with God and Gurdwara is place for it.

    In fact it is for one's own choice/ benefit/whatever that one visits a place of worship.
     
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  6. Ishna

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    Of course, God is not more present in Gurdwara than It is your home or the supermarket or the loo (teehee). The aim it to feel that connection for the maximum time.

    Gurdwara for me is like a recharge socket, a re-focus, a touch-base. Hopefully I'll get to the stage when the only recharge socket I need is Guruji Itself constantly, and then hopefully I'll become a bit of a recharge socket for others. peacesignkaur

    What is Gurdwara to others?
     
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  7. Harry Haller

    Harry Haller United Kingdom
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    A place devoid of Creators presence, full of ritualism, ceremony. I find more connection walking the dog

    my own opinion only
     
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  8. itsmaneet

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    Dear Searching Ji ....

    It depends how you take the word 'pleased' ...... !
    By 'pleased' above i mean - reaching God, connecting with God, make God happy with my deeds, following the orders of our Gurus
     
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  9. Harry Haller

    Harry Haller United Kingdom
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    Itsmaneetji

    My own opinion is that you are viewing God as you would a human being, with human emotions, someone who is beaming when you do Path, and angry with a furrowed brown when you have a drink. This is the classic description of the Abrahamic God, although brother Vouthon will no doubt post quotations to prove me wrong :)

    In my view, God, the timeless one, the one with no form, no fear, no enemies, is not pleased or disappointed by anything, 'it' is in a state of Naam, it is perfect, beyond imagination, beyond the petty emotions that plague us mortals.

    The following of Hukam will enable us all to be in a state of Naam, anything other than that is pointless. Of course once you have been in Hukam for a while, and the contentment and bliss that envelopes you may direct you to praise God, to sing the name with joy, to read Bani, to recite Bani, to get pleasure out of the connection, but that is for yourself, not for God,
     
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  10. Ishna

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    Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji does talk about pleasing Creator often with the soul-bride metaphor, the bride adorning herself with virtues to win the Husband's affection.

    Ang 19:
    ਚੰਦਨੁ ਮੋਲਿ ਅਣਾਇਆ ਕੁੰਗੂ ਮਾਂਗ ਸੰਧੂਰੁ
    Cẖanḏan mol aṇā▫i▫ā kungū māʼng sanḏẖūr.
    The bride may buy sandalwood oil and perfumes, and apply them in great quantities to her hair;
    ਚੋਆ ਚੰਦਨੁ ਬਹੁ ਘਣਾ ਪਾਨਾ ਨਾਲਿ ਕਪੂਰੁ
    Cẖo▫ā cẖanḏan baho gẖaṇā pānā nāl kapūr.
    she may sweeten her breath with betel leaf and camphor,
    ਜੇ ਧਨ ਕੰਤਿ ਭਾਵਈ ਸਭਿ ਅਡੰਬਰ ਕੂੜੁ ॥੪॥
    Je ḏẖan kanṯ na bẖāv▫ī ṯa sabẖ adambar kūṛ. ||4||
    but if this bride is not pleasing to her Husband Lord, then all these trappings are false. ||4||
    ਸਭਿ ਰਸ ਭੋਗਣ ਬਾਦਿ ਹਹਿ ਸਭਿ ਸੀਗਾਰ ਵਿਕਾਰ
    Sabẖ ras bẖogaṇ bāḏ hėh sabẖ sīgār vikār.
    Her enjoyment of all pleasures is futile, and all her decorations are corrupt.
    ਜਬ ਲਗੁ ਸਬਦਿ ਭੇਦੀਐ ਕਿਉ ਸੋਹੈ ਗੁਰਦੁਆਰਿ
    Jab lag sabaḏ na bẖeḏī▫ai ki▫o sohai gurḏu▫ār.
    Until she has been pierced through with the Shabad, how can she look beautiful at Guru's Gate?
    ਨਾਨਕ ਧੰਨੁ ਸੁਹਾਗਣੀ ਜਿਨ ਸਹ ਨਾਲਿ ਪਿਆਰੁ ॥੫॥੧੩॥
    Nānak ḏẖan suhāgaṇī jin sah nāl pi▫ār. ||5||13||
    O Nanak, blessed is that fortunate bride, who is in love with her Husband Lord. ||5||13||
     
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  11. Rory

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    welcomekaur
    Hey Akashaji! I was christened and raised a Catholic too, and I came across Sikhi for similar reasons. Nice to have you on the forum, hope you stick around!

    Despite what everyone else has said here I still think maybe it is best to leave this until you decide to become Khalsa or not. I am really looking forward to wearing the 5 kakaars but I feel like they will mean more to me if I wait until I become Khalsa - I think wearing the kara might confuse people a little bit as to your Khalsa status, not that it's a big deal. I personally think it just makes a lot more sense to wait until you are Khalsa to wear any of the 5Ks - after all, they are ideally meant for Khalsa.
    As I'm sure you're starting to see from the variety in answers, it's a matter of opinion; you're welcome to your opinion and you can make your choice based on that. icecreammunda
    I think the most important thing is to just be modest - it sounds like you have the right idea. As Ishnaji said in a similar topic, just remember you will be bowing so make sure whatever clothes you wear are suitable for that. I'm sure you'll be fine; maybe take a few fashion tips from the ladies while you're there and you'll have an even better idea of what to wear on your second visit. :sippingcoffeemunda:

    I doubt anyone will mind! Gurdwaras are probably used to white visitors, for this reason I doubt they will take much notice of your short hair. As Ishnaji said, not every Sikh is amritdhari! I don't see it being a problem.

    Isn't Sikhi an indiscriminate religion? The dastaar is for men and women, I really see no reason why a kaur shouldn't wear dastaar if she is Khalsa.. let's be honest, it seems like even most young Indian Sikh men don't even wear dastaar. Don't decide what you should do based on what others are doing.
    I say you can and should wear dastaar when you feel you are ready - I wouldn't take too much notice of if people think you are "over the top" for practicing an important tenet of your religion. No matter what you do, someone will disagree with it. Pay less heed to other peoples' opinions and more to your own. :sippingcoffeemunda:
    Most gori Sikhs seem to wear the dastaar anyways - I think this is a bridge you should cross when you come to it.

    You're pretty similar to me in this regard! I think getting up early for simran is a good way to start.
    I find that even more than just meditation etc., I've started to take notice of God a lot more in day-to-day affairs, I find I've become a more calm and reasonable person, I'm a lot more thoughtful when it comes to how I treat others.. I think that how you deal with day-to-day life is just as important as simran in terms of your connection with God.
     
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  12. Archived_member15

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    I think that what we are speaking of analogy and anthropomorphisms.

    The question was once asked on CAF, a Catholic forum by a non-Catholic "doubter" (as he called his religious affliation) : "Does God the Father have human emotions or are his emotions somehow different than ours?"

    The answers from Catholics, one of them a priest, went as follows:



    So as far as Catholic (Abrahamic) religion is concerned, all language attributing human characteristics to God - such as "anger", "happiness", "joy", "sadness" etc. - is all analogies for our benefit. In fact they are projections - illusions - that we foist upon God so as to try and bring him down to the human level. This is natural however it can lead to extreme error because in a sense it can be a subtle and well-meaning form of idolatry, since we make up in our own minds a God we can imagine and thereby lose the reality of God, which is far above and beyond all thought, forms and is ineffable, inexpressible and infinite.

    With that in mind next time you hear a Catholic saying "God is Love", it doesn't mean the human emotion of love.

    :sippingcoffeemunda:
    <!-- / message --><!-- / message -->
     
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  13. Rory

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    You have an interesting take on things Vouthonji.
     
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  14. Harkiran Kaur

    Harkiran Kaur Canada
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    Rory: The problem with the kara is... when I was gifted it by my Sikh friend in the UK, I put it on... and it was snug (not on my wrist) but it was difficult to get over my hand, and I have worn it since (I have had it on for about a year now without taking it off). I don't think I can get it back off without serious effort (and maybe a lot of vaseline or something) My wrist is tiny but my hand is larger. Should I worry about getting it back off before tomorrow?

    The white Sikh I mentioned that will be taking me to Gurdwara tomorrow... I asked him about wearing a kara before and he said its no problem and nobody will think anything bad of it, especially since it was a gift. He said the only one of the 5 k's that would be looked down upon without being Amrit is the kirpan.

    Now I don't know what to do.... it will be very obvious that I have a kara on tomorrow.... though it is a thin / light stainless steel one. Should I dig out the vaseline/soap and try to remove it?
     
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  15. Ishna

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    Leave it on. I wear one all the time I'm not amritdhari, and at Gurdwara Sahib people still ask me if I'm actually Sikh. No one will care.
     
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  16. Rory

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    Ah, in that case Akasha leave it on. Ishnaji is right - I don't think it's a big deal at all anyways.

    Take Ishna-ji's advice, just leave it on :) Sorry to have made you worry about it, it really isn't a big deal.
    Oh, and I hope you have a really nice time! Let us know how it goes :D
     
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  17. Harkiran Kaur

    Harkiran Kaur Canada
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    Thank you for your responses everyone! I am SOOOOOOOO nervous about tomorrow! I am more nervous doing this than I was the night before I went skydiving for the first time!

    I picked out a tan loose tunic top (from India) to wear and just a pair of khakis. I don't have a chunni... but I did find a long scarf that is pretty wide and could probably pass as one (its also made in India... so even though its being sold as a scarf locally here in a dept store, I think it may actually be a dupatta or chunni sold in India) It's sheer silky material with various shades of pinks, tans and browns, not overly decorated though, no trim or sequins or anything, it's very subtle. Point is I want to be pretty plain so as to not attract much attention (as if my stark ghost whiteness won't already) and khaki / tan colours are very 'Summer' anyway.

    Wish me luck guys! It's a small Sikh community here... but I am hoping the fact that there are a few white Sikhs there already will help!

    (One thing I'd really like to do in the future is learn to play Tabla. I already sing and play guitar and have played a Djembe hand drum before... so hoping that in the future that could be a reality)
     
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  18. Rory

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    I'm 101% sure you will be absolutely fine Akashaji, don't worry about a thing :)

    Hope you enjoy your visit and be sure to come back and give us a long reply about how it went! I'm sure everyone will be very accommodating and understanding, I doubt there is anything to be afraid of. :)

    Yeah I'd love to start playing tabla too. I'd really love to learn sitar but it looks so complicated. :(
     
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  19. singhitwithme

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    Good luck! I'm in a similar position to yourself. Most of what I've read on different forums and such is that you'll be welcomed no matter what. That being said, I'm still too shy to go. Who knows? Maybe tomorrow is the day I'll muster the courage to march my pasty face to gurdwara. Hehe

    I'll be curious to know how it goes.
     
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  20. Ishna

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    Oh it's all so exciting!! cheerleader :mundabhangra: japposatnamwaheguru:

    I remember at first I was trying so hard to find a dupatta or a chunni. Truth is, it's just a scarf (a really big one!)! But any size scarf will do. But there I was in the One World Shop asking the, ahem, pasty white salesgirl 'is this a chunni' while holding a regular scarf and she was like 'um, I dunno, what's a chunni?' hehehe

    Can't wait to hear how you go Akasha ji!
     
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  21. itsmaneet

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    Dear AkashaJi

    Just say 'Waheguru' & get into the ocean - [by ocean i mean Sikhism] ... Waheguru will help you swim comfortably :)
     
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