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Dealing With Those Who Don't Like Westerners


Dec 19, 2012
First and foremost, Sikhs are good people and they do so much for the communities they reside in. I am grateful for the Gurdwara and I look forward to visiting the Gurdwara when I can.

Unfortunately, there are a few in the Gurdwara who do not welcome westerners. They by no means represent the majority of friendly welcoming Sikhs. Also, the few in the Gurdwara who do not welcome westerners may not even be Sikhs as the Gurdwaras welcome all faiths, so the few that do not welcome westerners may be of other faiths.

I have encountered these other participants in the Gurdwara who didn't appear to want me there. I have tried to be polite and considerate and be respectful as I could, hoping maybe they would realize that I do respect the Gurdwara and I mean no disrespect to them or the Sikh religion.

Usually it is just stares which I just try to cope with the best I can and when I do see them, I smile even if they frown at me. (Note: these stares are not the friendly curious kind, they have a strong angry look on their face.) I have greeted them as I do others in the Gurdwara, but usually get a strong stare and no response. I had one man wave his hand in my face as to let me know that I should not greet him or talk to him (a gesture similar to trynig to wave off a mosquito as to say go go get away). I just smiled and walked away. Under normal circumstances, if you greet a Sikh, they greet you back, ex. sat sari akal, they smile and sat sari akal back or start a conversation.

Once again, these few do not represent the majority at all. I hold Sikhs in high respect.

The reason I am asking this question is because maybe there is a way I can make friends with the people who don't welcome me? Maybe they had a bad experience with a westerner in the past and maybe I can help them realize that not all westerners are the same. I really just want to be at peace in the Gurdwara. It is a holy place and it gives me a bad feeling that this is happening there.

Additional note, this is not one of those cases, where I didn't remove my shoes or cover my head or break some Gurdwara rule. It has gone on around 3 months now and I kept hoping it would get better or go away on its own. Being kind is not working. I actually think it has inspired them. The stare downs are real creepy.

Another Sikh offered to help me fix this (as he witnessed it) and said they were just trying to intimidate me. I told him not to intervene fearing that it could make it worse.

If I had to guess I think they are Hindus, but am not sure. They are definitely not Khalsas. Matter of fact, it was a Khalsa who offered to help me.


Nov 14, 2010
Some Christians (ie-Quakers) believe a spark of the Light of Christ exists in us all. I suspect it does though it probably is known by many names in the various religions. In reality, if we can dust of the walls of our hearts, they become clear like glass...shining the Light into the darkness.

So here's to the spark in all of us....


Jun 25, 2011
I have gone to Gurdwara for over 3 years now with my wife, and this has never completely stopped. Funny thing is, when my sister/female cousins visit they are treated extremely friendly. :grinningkaur: Nothing gets a punjabi guys heart rate up more than a gora coming in and taking one of his women. On the flip side, if I was a keshdhari youth and had gotten bullied by a bunch of white guys, I would get {censored}y if one of them showed up at my place of refuge.

I have also noted it is the amritdharis who make the most effort to be nice to you. They are more likely to take their religion seriously, and I think they genuinely enjoy sharing it with others. I would say 50% could care less if a white person shows up (these are normal people), 25% hate it but are polite, 20% hate it and are not polite about it, and 5% are genuinely glad that you came.

Fact of the matter is this. The religion that the Gurus taught is sublime. It is amazing. It has every capacity to heal the world and fill the spiritual void that modernity has brought to our generation. The problem is that it is trapped in punjabi culture, and I do not think it will ever be set free. I initially wanted my daughter to be raised a sikh (even tried to get my wife to agree to make her middle name Kaur) but when I thought about the fact that she would one day have to face all of this crap, I decided it was not worth it. Truth is important, but its better to live truthfully and I think punjabi culture makes that hard to do.

IMHO learn what you can from Gurbani (I recommend Basics of Sikhi on youtube) but don't bother going to Gurdwara. In most cases it is essentially a punjabi social club / dollar buffet. Sorry, harsh truth.

Harkiran Kaur


Jul 20, 2012
My experience has not been like this at all. I got a few strange looks the first few times I went there... but after that I had no issues, and I wear Salwar Kameez every time I go there too!!! I get hugs from aunties all the time, and most in the Sangat always say Sat Sri Akal and talk to me. If I don't show up one week, they genuinely wonder why I have not shown up and ask about me. It helps we have an Amritdhari gora in our Sangat who is also prominent in Politics in Canada.

Inderjeet Kaur

Oct 13, 2011
Seattle, Washington, USA
My suggestion is to say Ardas for them; that will clear the bad feelings from inside you, and then just politely ignore them. There will always be a few prejudiced individuals in any group. Use it as a learning experience to strengthen yourself and also to gain understanding and compassion for those who must live with prejudice on a daily basis.

Most of us are really nice people. Really.:grinningkudi:
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