I Considered Cutting My Hair

Aug 14, 2004
OpenmindedSingh ji,

This is what has always worked for me all my life.......ARDAS....ask Guru Ji for stength and be kind to yourself, forgive yourself for little mistakes. Be grateful to your parents who raised you as a Gursikh outside India. It takes deep faith and great effort on the part of parents to pass on Sikhi values to their children. Don't let them down because you are momentarily feeling weak. Remember sakhi of Chali Muktay..."Je ko Gu tay bemukh hove, Bin Satgur Mukt na paavei"

ਜੀਅ ਕੀ ਬਿਰਥਾ ਹੋਇ ਸੁ ਗੁਰ ਪਹਿ ਅਰਦਾਸਿ ਕਰਿ ॥
When your soul is feeling sad, offer your prayers to the Guru.
ਬਿਰਥਾ = (ਸੰ. ਵ੍ਯਥਾ) ਪੀੜ, ਦੁੱਖ।
ਦਿਲ ਦਾ ਜੋ ਦੁੱਖ ਹੋਵੇ ਉਹ ਆਪਣੇ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਅਗੇ ਬੇਨਤੀ ਕਰ!

ਛੋਡਿ ਸਿਆਣਪ ਸਗਲ ਮਨੁ ਤਨੁ ਅਰਪਿ ਧਰਿ ॥
Renounce all your cleverness, and dedicate your mind and body to Him.
ਅਰਪਿ ਧਰਿ = ਹਵਾਲੇ ਕਰ ਦੇ।
ਆਪਣੀ ਸਾਰੀ ਚਤੁਰਾਈ ਛੱਡ ਦੇਹ ਤੇ ਮਨ ਤਨ ਗੁਰੂ ਦੇ ਹਵਾਲੇ ਕਰ ਦੇਹ!
Feb 29, 2012
Openminded Singh ji. Today. You are depressed about cutting your hair, but there will be time when you will be depressed to grow here and become same as today. And it's Personel experience and you are the first person that I am sharing with. Sat Sri Akal.
Mar 6, 2012
I appreciate all the responses from everyone. I decided to make an account on this forum for the sole purpose of asking this question as I don't feel comfortable asking it to my family or the few Sardar/GurSikh friends that I have. So I really appreciate all the feedback and responses.

As of now, I'm still on the fence, but a lot of the insight here has been extremely valuable to me and is making me put much more thought into the decision.

The Sikh identity is man's natural identity. Whether one believes we are the product of thousands of years of evolution, or simply created by God, or both, this is the natural identity for human beings and I understand the sacrifices that have been made as sacrifices of not necessarily the Sikh identity, but man's natural identity. Lives were sacrificed so that this natural identity could be preserved.

watch: Kesh (unshorn hair) Cherished by Sikhs, Orthodox Christians, Native American Indians & more - YouTube

I have a tremendous amount of respect for the identity and the history, but I feel as if, and excuse me for being redundant, I don't really resonate with the identity anymore. I have friends who have cut their hair several years ago, and I guess it was much easier for them back then, at a younger age. It's much more difficult for a 20-year-old like me who has a well-established network of friends.


Jun 3, 2008
once again it sound like society is trying to sway you from left to right..... look deep down, away from influences....... you shall find your answer

Scarlet Pimpernel

We seek him here,we sikh
May 31, 2011
In the Self
Veera Guru Gobind Singh asked for heads,he did not ask that the Beloved Five provide their sons heads,as to give ones head is symbolic of giving oneself away, but to be asked to do this by ones parents or Sikh society is not the same thing.
Parents rightly assign great value to the soldierly qualities a good Sikh imbues but they do not realise that the Army life is not for everyone as it is a difficult road,I personally believe the appearance given to us is like a uniform as it was adopted whilst we were on a war footing.
So you could say it is was originally like a Military Code of Conduct ,which usually includes a specific appearance that must be kept, for example most Armies have to keep short hair,one needs a robust constituition to be a soldier that is why this path has to be freely entered into and is a 'duty imposed by one self' on oneself. In the modern Army it is attested by swearing an oath of allegiance and by those who commit to it in Sikhi by Amrit .
Guru Gobind Singhs Army,the Khalsa is a volunteer death force,that is why it is a force to be reckoned with,if it was a persuaded into death force then what merit has it?
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Mar 6, 2012
Guru Gobind Singhs Army,the Khalsa is a volunteer death force,that is why it is a force to be reckoned with,if it was a persuaded into death force then what merit has it?

that's a really good point

All along, I kind of feel I've been pushed along by parents and other influences into adopting this identity. And I feel that's the case with a majority of Sikh youth today.


ੴ / Ik▫oaʼnkār
Dec 21, 2010
that's a really good point

All along, I kind of feel I've been pushed along by parents and other influences into adopting this identity. And I feel that's the case with a majority of Sikh youth today.
Veer OpenmindedSingh ji what you say in underlined is nothing peculiar to Sikhism. It is part of being child of parents or parents of a child doing what they know best.

You think babies born in Muslim households want their wiggly chopped off (circumcision), get mundan (clean shaved head in Hindusim), dip in water (Baptization in Christianity), etc.

So no blame games, be what you want to be and keep the good always to move forward and you define for self what that good is for you for the future.

Remember you get the love you give. So be good to all around including family, friends, etc.

Sat Sri Akal. mundahug
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Kaur 1968

Dec 30, 2010
canada bc
OpenmindedSingh ji, Hairs are gift from GOD when we destroy his gift, we pay for the consequences, others like friends don't care how you look. I would suggest you to discuss with your parents as well. Do ardas everyday, pay more attention on ardass specialy when you say Panjaan’ piaareaan’, chauhaan’ Sahibzaad-eaan’, chaalee mukt-eaan’,
Hat'hee-aan’, jappee-aan’, tappee-aan’, jinhaa' Naam jap-eaa, vand chhakeaa, d'aeg chalaa-ee, tegh vaahee, daekh kae andit'h keetaa,

Tinhaan piaareaan’, sache-aare-aan dee kamaaee daa dHe-aan d'har kae Khaalsaa jee bolo jee Vaaheguroo

Jinhaan’ singhaan’ singhaniaan’ nae dHaram haet sees deettae, baaNd baaNd kataa-ae,
Khopariaan’ luhaa-ee-aan’, charkharee-aan’ tae charhae, aare-aan’ naal chiraa-ae ga-ae,
Gurduaare-aan’ dee saevaa la-ee kurbaaniaan’ keeTee-aan’, dHaram naheen’ haareaa,
Sikhee kaesaan’ svaasaan’ naal nibhaa-ee, tinhaan’ dee kamaa-ee dah theaan dhar kae Khaalsaa jee bolo jee Vaaheguroo.

ardas karo Guru ji will guide you




Dec 23, 2009
that's a really good point

All along, I kind of feel I've been pushed along by parents and other influences into adopting this identity. And I feel that's the case with a majority of Sikh youth today.

Openminded Singh Ji,

But its pretty special too, this bond. Its like an umbilical cord, you'll find that you can only go so far before your yanked back so quick, its not even funny. Well, thats what it feels like for me, but I'm a pretty sensitive person so idk, may be different for you.

But I know where your coming from, its about reconciling your cultural identity... its hard to relate to the culture of our parents, when they arrived here, they were already grown, they already knew who they were and for the most part have stayed within the community. But we have to go out, we have to communicate, deal with all sorts of different people... its just totally different. This process you're going through, like reconciling your identity (your inherited cultural, historical identity) with who you are now, what you have in front of you... its expected. We all have to go through it, to become who we are, to be comfortable in our own skin.

But you will find... what your so antsy to get away from, is actually the solution to a lot of things. What looks so glamorous out there, really isnt. A lot of people are lost, don't know how to handle relationships etc.


Nov 28, 2011
I have the total opposite situation, I have not cut my hair for a very long time and it is the longest that it has ever been and I totally happy with it. I am 27 and most of my friends have either losing their hair or have lost it.

I look after my hair now and it is in great condition. I can see it being very different in the use because the general public do not have much understanding about sikhs, and that some automatically think turban and taliban. Which is crazy! If these individuals knew and could differentiate between sikhs then I do not think wearing a turban would be a problem there.


Jan 29, 2011
Vancouver, Canada

Recently one of my cousins cut his hair, after almost 40 years of his life for the first time. When I heard the news I was not shocked as from my previous discussions with him I knew he did not really believe in Sikhism, but kept the external identity due to social community pressures. I wonder how many Sikhs do this; keep the external identity because of family or other pressures, and how many Sikhs give up the identity due to society pressures and to fit in. No real assessment can be done but one thing is certain the external appearance of a Sikh is a real matter of concern/discussion.

To me both instances (of keeping or losing the hair for pressures) the value of the Sikh identity is totally lost.

Seriously what’s the big deal about hair? Almost every Sikh, at least every Sikh living outside of Punjab, India has asked this question to themselves at one time or another in their life. Here are some more questions:

Why in this day in age is it important?

What benefit is gained from standing out in a society especially after 9/11 where a turban and beard has such negative connotations associated with them?

What’s the use of getting discriminated, judged, heckled, at times even hated just from your appearance?

What is there to be had to have this aged look, unpopular with young women, unpopular with fashion, style, and perceived cleanliness?

Why does it matter how you look as long as you are a good person?

How does this facilitate any spiritual growth?

Isn’t more important what you are on the inside, rather than out?

The list goes on and on, asked by non Sikhs, but also Sikhs themselves in their inner dialogue. I am sure one day my son’s will ask me many of these questions in various forms be it out of curiosity, or rebellion.

There are many answers based on historical significance, spiritual technology and tenants of the faith. But most everyone of the internet age wants the main question answered, the question which has become the staple for the new-aged, smarter than thou, google everything know it all’s , behind all the questions above and many not listed is the one we seldom want to address :

Whats in it for me?

Plain and simple this is where it comes to when broken down and what every introspection and observation is about, the one thing, how it relates to me, how do I benefit, and what do I have to gain?

And that’s exactly where it gets complicated, because the ego asking the questions already has the answers. Many who ask about hair, who question their identity or this basic tenant of Sikhism have done so with the wrong mentality to begin with, lets look at it with a fresh idea lets question it in a way which will shed more light on the reasoning’s and reveal why it is a priceless identity:

Whats not in it for me?

Its historical fact that kesh (hair) was/is the most valuable part of a Sikh. There are countless accounts of Sikh history that even when faced with hardship, torture and even death, a Sikh would not have their hair cut. As I read some of these historical accounts I tried to figure out the reasoning, why didn’t these Sikhs give up something so basic, something that Sikhs today give up without second thoughts. When I was younger and tormented by bullies I drew strength from those historical figures, on how they stood steadfast in their belief, in what was right even when faced with obstacles they did not waver. I was too young to really understand, I did not have the personal experience’s to give true justice to their greatness.

If I was to be given a Rolls Royce for free, I wouldn’t value it as much as if I had saved every penny to earn it. The problem is now, we have been given Sikhism virtually for free, without paying any price, without earning any part of it, it is handed to us on a platter, put in our laps and then we don’t know what to do. We do not realize its worth, its value, instead we take it for granted.

As I grow older my appreciation for my hair grows even more, it’s the single most thing that makes me who I am. Every hair ties me to a heritage beyond description, beyond words, beyond comprehension. What a Sikh stands for is righteousness, for justice, and for service of humanity meaning they do not stand for themselves. The Sikh identity is so special so unique that it forces you to ask questions of yourself that you would not normally ask, it forces you into situations that you would not normally encounter, and it gives you experience’s beyond what you would have normally experienced. When you put all that together, when you add up all the pros and cons you begin to see the picture more in focus.

Sure spirituality is from within, but in your life experiences are internal and external. The saroop/identity provides you both, it gives you clarity about who you are, and constant reminder of what your goal in life should be. The hair, the beard they automatically create the acceptance of natural form of a human. You give up your ego, your basic desire to want to be accepted, to fit in, right from the onset you are thrust into a mentality to stand out, to develop inner strength and confidence.

As you live you get even more, judgments, taunts, discrimination force you to persevere, your put into situations which change you to the core. You begin to see those moments in your life where you had hardships not as moments that were unfair but times which developed you, that assisted in shaping you.

Then something miraculous happens you start to fall in love with appreciation of your hair, you start to see how they themselves symbolized what you believe have provided you the opportunities to become a better human being and enriched you beyond what you could imagine. When that feeling begins you start to see the reasoning, the blessings, the gift and the wonderful formula that Sikhism was founded on. When you lose yourself, you gain the universe. Those great souls of the past realized this in the face of death this feeling was not worth giving up, that the hair tied them to their strength so death was preferable rather than losing something so special.

Welcome are the stares, welcome are the looks, welcome are the taunts, welcome are the judgments, welcome are the negative and positive experience’s which I have gained so far and am going to gain in the future, I look forward to them they are what help me change and grow, to dig deeper in myself to find compassion and patience in the face of ignorance. They challenge me to try to behave and live with certain ideals and principals and keep me on duty at all times to what I believe.

So when I see Sikhs giving up their identities, or failing to adopt them even if they are stern believers of everything else of Sikhism, I am not sure what to think. I honestly have become opinion less about the topic, to each their own, all I know is what value and richness it has provided me.

When I see my hair, my beard my now unpopular turbaned look… I see what ties me to my heritage, I see what has given me experience in life what has taught me and shaped me into who I am today, I see what ties me to such a great technology that is so simple yet so deep, so rich so wonderful that in my mind I fall to my knees and bow my head in honor and respect to those who once said and lived in action:

Sir Javey tan Javey, Mera Sikhi Sidak na Javey
If I lose my head so be it, May I never lose my Sikh discipline/faith/identity.
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Mar 6, 2012

excellent post, I really enjoyed it. After reading it, I was going to add it to my favorites on my web browser, but just as I was about to do so, I realized that I already had. The star on the top right of my web browser was yellow, indicating that I had previously added that page to my favorites. Some time during the past three years or so (since I've had my current laptop), I stumbled upon that article and added it to my favorites. And now that I think about it, it does seem familiar.

The point is very well taken. I would not be the person I am today had I not been compelled to make myself stand out in society.


Jun 12, 2011
Openminded Singh ji, no matter how you look, someone will feel the need to give you their unsolicited opinion, especially if you have known them for a while and then you change. If you grow kesh, cut your kesh, gain or lose weight, change clothing styles etc. Please be careful that you do not change just to please someone else. You may regret it and end up resenting them.

Do you think it would be possible to do something different with your hair and beard, like braid them or use some sort of hair care products? Maybe that would be a good compromise for now.
Mar 6, 2012
As mentioned in my first post, I gel it, after slightly cutting it. I just hate the way it looks, and that makes me feel insecure about myself, and therefore others perceive me as insecure.

so my reason for cutting it would be to make me feel more secure about myself, and therefore others would perceive me as more secure.

How am I supposed to represent an identity with such insecurity and then claim it as my own? better not to represent the identity at all?


Jun 12, 2011
*sigh* If you were my son (you are about their age) I would tell you to do what you want as long as you are a good person inside, and you are happy and don't look too terrible. Also I would tell you that I am proud of you for going to school, and you need to get your grades back up so you can have a good future.

I don't think any of the Gurus or your parents would want you to lie, let your grades slip, and feel insecure and depressed. But you really should tell your parents how you feel before you cut your kesh so they do not assume the worst.

Mai Harinder Kaur

Oct 6, 2006
British Columbia, Canada
I present a different perspective based on my own experience. My husband and son and other family members achieved shaheedi in Delhi 1984 because they refused to cut their hair. When I see a young Singh cut his kesh, I feel very sad and a little betrayed. I can't help but wonder if their sacrifice - and mine - is noted and appreciated, if it has any meaning to those in the Sangat.

I am not trying to lay a guilt trip on you, although I realise it might seem that way. I am just telling you my personal feelings. There are others like me. How much our feelings mean to you is totally up to you. I am reminding you that you are a part of a community and things may not be as simple as they may appear.


Harry Haller

Panga Master
Jan 31, 2011
As mentioned in my first post, I gel it, after slightly cutting it. I just hate the way it looks, and that makes me feel insecure about myself, and therefore others perceive me as insecure.

so my reason for cutting it would be to make me feel more secure about myself, and therefore others would perceive me as more secure.

How am I supposed to represent an identity with such insecurity and then claim it as my own? better not to represent the identity at all?[/QUOTE

Apologies for my bluntness, but no one filled with such hate and insecurity should represent Sikhism. You represent Sikhism by your outward appearance and your actions, as good as your actions may be without a turban, at that point you only represent yourself.

Live a little my friend, do what you have to do, but never forget God, do not feel like it has to be all or nothing, it sounds to me like your mind is pretty made up, and you have not found the support and justification you were looking for, all I would ask is that you be sensitive to those around you, try wearing a ponytail for a while, for the sake of your parents, make it a slow transition if it must be done, no one delights in one less turban in the world, it is sad, but, and again please forgive me for my frankness, you cannot make lions out of donkeys, if it is the life of a donkey you wish, then you may as well look like one. I too have taken that path, I chose the life of a donkey, over the life of a lion, but it sounds to me that this is something you have to do, like I had to do it,.

I hope the experience brings you back one day brother, but never forget you are still a Sikh, when the disco lights go down, and dawn breaks, you are still a Sikh, like a salmon one day you will get a calling, and hopefully one day you will make it home.

Good Luck
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Aug 22, 2010
Leicester, England
I was 10 when I cut my hair, December 2006, I remember it well. My reasons however came from more social reasons, experiencing bullying truly does change your outlook on many things, one of which was my identity. The taunt of 'rag-head' and '****' was consistent and it eventually got to the point where I had just had enough. So I decided to cut my hair. 5 odd years down the line? I regret cutting my hair, and I also perceive myself as a bit of a loser. Cutting my hair was the easy way out, why didn't I stand up for myself? At the time I was immature and foolish, wanting to be accepted, I guess with time, you tend to realise a lot more things, one of which was that I should have been proud of my identity and embraced it. But to the point...I guess there is a lot more to Sikhi then keeping long flowing hair and having a long beard, but I do believe that this very identity does a lot more good for your character than bad. All in all, it's your choice whether or not you want to keep your hair, no one is going to look at you in a different way, but with that said, the feeling you get when a fellow sardaar nods at you in respect, is unbeatable.

Safety and peace.
Mar 6, 2012
I grow up in a community with very few Sikhs (actually, very few colored people in general). I know for a fact that my Sikh family was the only one in my town and one of three in the school district. I did encounter a lot of discrimination growing up, but I'm kind of glad I did as that experience made me the person I am today. I wouldn't be half the person I am today if it hadn't been for those experiences with discrimination, wearing a patka, following 9/11.

I think I can say with confidence that, during that time, the thought of cutting my hair never crossed my mind.

As I mentioned before, I come from a very traditional, conservative Gursikh family and we go to Gurdwara every week, during Sangrands, Gurpurabs, Rainsabais Keertans, Friends' Langars, etc. (of course, I haven't been following this routine for nearly 2.5 years because I live at school now). I would go to Gurdwara (about an hour from my home) every Sunday for weekly Diwan and Kirtan, and I noticed, in the months following 9/11, that around 25% of the guys my age (I was 10 years old when 9/11 took place) began cutting their hair. Every few weeks or month I would notice someone (sometimes a friend) cut their hair.

The experience I am having now is just so different, though. I think I can say with confidence that I have never considered cutting my hair on the basis of discrimination following 9/11.

I grew up in a community that doesn't have many desis or punjabis, so college was a really mind-blowing experience for me. I transferred from an out-of-state school to an in-state one last year to be closer to home, but what I noticed upon first entering college as a freshman was that most Sikh guys weren't Sardars. The school I attended initially as a freshman had around 22,000 undergrad students. There were only three Sardars (myself included), one of which was an international student. I entered college with the impression that most Sikh guys are Sardars, so I was kind of shocked to find out that wasn't the case. This notion was later re-enforced when I started doing bhangra, going to competitions and noticing that there were very few sardars, and among those that are Sardars, very few maintain their dhari.

I don't really feel pressured by society to change myself, but now it's as if I personally have come to dislike my appearance. Excuse me for being redundant, but I don't like the way my dhari looks, and it makes me feel incredibly insecure when I look in a mirror or talk to others, and therefore insecure is what people perceive me as. I know there are a lot of Sardars, including many of my friends at Gurdwara, who maintain their dharis and feel confident about them. I don't feel that sense of confidence every since my dhari began growing.