by Harman Singh Sadana Being born in a Sikh family and having studied at a Sikh school in Punjab, I usually came across a lot of religious stuff including religious festivals, ceremonies, processions, speeches etc. I still remember that during my school days our school authorities usually called upon religious personalities for speeches in order to inculcate the spirit of Sikhi within us and they often said that “You are the future of Sikhi”. But as I grew up living those hollow rituals, I was also exposed to other cultures through media and my peer group. As an adolescent, I wasn’t a bad Sikh at all as I never took alcohol, frequently went to the Gurudwaras, concentrated on my studies and stayed away from complications. I was pretty happy and satisfied with my life until one day an elderly gentleman walked up to me in the gurudwara and pointing towards my trimmed beard he said (in Punjabi), “O Puttar!! Chann warga mukhraa hai tera, par eh daag kyun laa liya hai?” (Son! Your face is like the moon but why have you put a black spot over it?). That actually made me think. This funny and sugarcoated compliment was actually the first step towards my life being complicated by religion. I actually started feeling guilty and stopped trimming my beard. My interest in religious activities also increased but I never realized that I was getting distracted from my studies and I ended up having an average academic record. After I stopped trimming my beard, I was expected to read more and more bani which I did and after sometime I was expected to get baptized. After getting baptized, I was expected to propagate my religion to the non-Sikh world and bring the so-called patitis back on track. But when I realized that it wasn’t as easy as it sounds, I was expected to do it with all the resources at my disposal and even be ready to die for it. Today, when I look back, these are the same religious leaders who used to call me the future of Sikhi when I was a child now that I am fully baptized Sikh like them with 5 k’s intact; it does not matter to them whether I live or I die. But, I don’t blame the poor religious leaders for it as they only serve public figures and people in power and not the Sikh community. I’m useless to them as I’m neither a celebrity, bureaucrat, politician, business tycoon or a rich NRI. Is it a matter of pride to be a part of the community having the highest female foeticide rate and one of the lowest female literacy rates? Does projecting a group of some anti-national megalomaniacs as heroes cover all the garbage and crooked behavior that happened inside the Golden temple complex during 1984? Has this gone so much out of hand that we cannot even question it? The places that we consider to be sanctum sanctorum, have they become the offices of communist gentlemen having 5 k’s? Have we turned a blind eye towards our spirit of Khalsa and is our religion becoming the mistress of power? Will a communist utopia prove to be a stepping stone towards a perfect world or be a perfect world itself? Is our community living in a false paradise of being a global community amidst some serious identity crisis, and that too at the threshold of destruction? Many more questions come to my mind, but I’m afraid that they’re not being answered by Sikhi and Sikhi alone. Many people love to discuss such issues and in the end, just rationalize, play safe and leave things the way they are and let them propagate. Now being a rational and educated individual, when I think about life in a modern, civilized and scientific society without any spiritual and metaphysical complications, I can simply say that, “NO! I’m not proud to be a Sikh” because I just feel like any other normal human being who is rational and doesn’t have any false perceptions about himself based on a history often distorted and modified for the fulfillment of some selfish ends and means, and that history took place a long time ago. A message from the author: Please understand that I have not written this article to hurt anyone’s sentiments. I have just written this in order to zero-down the factors (through the participation of cybersangat) which are actually holding us back from being the No.1 community in the world. The truth is really bitter but we have to speak it. Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru ji ki Fateh!!