• Welcome to all New Sikh Philosophy Network Forums!
    Explore Sikh Sikhi Sikhism...
    Sign up Log in

What To Do With The Un-Natural Growth Of Hair On Female Faces?

Ishna

Writer
SPNer
May 9, 2006
3,261
5,192
Hi everyone

Can we please discuss the difference and usage of the words kesh and valha as mentioned in this snippet of Kamala ji's post:

Sat Sri Akal, Sardip Singh ji,
As someone pointed out in another forum on this same topic:


Furthermore, I believe this is a moot point as kesh only refers to the long hair found on the head on both males and females and on the faces of males. It does not refer to body hair. The proper Punjabi word for that is valha. If the Guru had meant for us not to touch the valha specifically, I'm sure that would have been mentioned but it was not, to my knowledge. Please correct me if I am wrong on that count.

Kesh as head hair/male beard makes sense to me as an article of uniform for the Khalsa. My understanding is that long, clean hair was insisted upon because it would be more difficult for a Khalsa to run and hide and pretend to be of another religion.

It would also be difficult to anchor a turban without a joora (top-knot of hair).

I find it difficult to comment on this topic as I have very fair skin and hair -- you wouldn't notice I have hairy legs unless you're really looking. It would be hypocritical of me to insist a dark-haired lady who is being ridiculed for her mo should keep it if she doesn't want to.

If there is so much emphasis on a lady keeping her beard hairs, why isn't there the same insistance on wearing turban? That would be a double standard.

Ishna
 
Nov 14, 2008
283
419
icecreammunda my understanding


Singh means Lion ie with Facial hair , but Lioness ( Princess ) is without facial hairs .

lion-and-lioness-mating-couple-at-rest-masai-mara-national-reserve-rift-valley-kenya-photograph-19124635.jpeg

:grinningsingh:
 
Nov 14, 2010
79
90
And he loves here just as she is. Look at their expressions!

We will conveniently, for the sake of going along with the fun, ignore the reality that both of them will mate with multiple partners, that female lions have no choice in the matter, and that once she is impregnated, he will wander off... :grinningkudi:
 

Mai Harinder Kaur

Mentor
Writer
SPNer
Oct 5, 2006
1,755
2,735
72
British Columbia, Canada
We will conveniently, for the sake of going along with the fun, ignore the reality that both of them will mate with multiple partners, that female lions have no choice in the matter, and that once she is impregnated, he will wander off... :grinningkudi:
Yeah, these analogies can go only so far.

However, he will not wander off. Lions live in stable family units (prides) and the males stick around until another male defeats them in combat.

However, male lions don't do much work. They just wander the perimeter of the pride territory and make babies. The lionesses do all the hunting and raising of the young. He still does the lion's share of the eating, though. It's a great life for him, I suppose, but let us not encourage our Singhs to act like the lion animal, at least not in that respect.

In any case, I do not cut, trim, dye, dilapidate, laser, pluck or otherwise mess with or alter any hair anywhere on my body. A personal choice, based on what I think was the intentions of my Guru. And that is that for me.

Others are free to do whatever they choose.
 
Nov 14, 2010
79
90
SSA, Mai ji gingerteakaur

Interesting ~ is there some sort of scriptural support for the idea of not coloring the hair? I can understand not bleaching it as that removes natural melanin, etc. but there are many dyes (such as hennas) that do not take anything away from the hair, they only add color over it (which, in a way, is not all that different from wearing hairspray or styling gel or even a pretty bow on one's hair). I'm genuinely curious (and appreciative as I'm sure you've answer these types of questions and engaged in similar discussions with others a million times). :happykudi:

I did let my underarm hair and leg hair grow out at one point a few years ago, partly as an experiment to see what it was like. I had a couple of girlfriends who were real crunchy-granola types who never shaved and I was in a place in my life where no one was going to see it anyway so... why not? ;-) It was far more interesting than I had expected -- the way I could feel even just a little air movement on my leg hairs (which are baby-fine and almost invisible because I am very fair-skinned). It became less noticeable the longer the hair was there, but it was really almost freaking me out at first -- like I had spiders on my legs or something. LOL!

Anyway, I could almost see a "that makes sense" argument in favor of not shaving leg hairs if being able to detect subtle changes in air movement was a key survival mechanism.

Thoughts? (and thanks!) peacesignkaur
 

Mai Harinder Kaur

Mentor
Writer
SPNer
Oct 5, 2006
1,755
2,735
72
British Columbia, Canada
Dear Siri Kamala ji,

First be aware that I intensely dislike cosmetics. This is a personal, not a religious, thing. I even refused to wear make up at my anand karaj which sort of freaked everybody out.

To be official, the SRM only speaks of dying the beard.

I really am not into legalisms. I hold my hair to be sacred and try to do nothing that will harm it. I use shampoo and conditioner and hair oil. I guess my only objection to something like henna would be that I prefer the natural and also that I think colouring the hair is usually just physical vanity which is something I personally never liked for myself. If it gives you a lift and helps you feel better, I see nothing really wrong with it. Such things just don't make me feel better or happier.

I guess I am a bit of a hippy in preferring the "natural" !:grinningkaur:

Please notice that I am trying very hard to separate my preferences from Sikhi "rules."

Here is a shabad I have always liked. Feel free to skip the beginning lecture if you don't want to listen to it or your Punjabi isn't up to it. My Punjabi isn't really up to it, but I catch "kesh" and "Sikhi" and "Nanak" quite a few times. I am not preaching and saying to take this literally. It is a lovely thought, though, to me.

<object height="344" width="425">


<embed src="http://www.youtube-nocookie.com/v/rnWcEOYR3lE?fs=1&hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" height="344" width="425"></object>
 
Nov 14, 2010
79
90
I will listen to it as soon as I get my banana bread for the company holiday party in the oven. LOL!

Suffice it to say that my Punjabi isn't up to it because my Punjabi is almost nonexistent. (Working on it though -- downloading fonts an' stuff from Billie the Cat's site...)

Thanks for clarifying where the line is drawn between what is "Mai-based" and what is Sikhi rule-based.

And here is your pretty fish just because I love the idea of being able to change colors from one moment to the next like a chameleon. (chuckle) :fish:

Okay -- on to the land of Nannerbread!
 
Nov 14, 2010
79
90
Watching the lecture part of the video now. AH! I've figured out why the cadence and the syllables sound vaguely familiar! I'm a fan of Bhangra music! Dur. So obvious. Now I just have to find a way to make it make sense.

So interesting to me that, of all the musical forms that could have really spoken to me, it was Bhangra that makes me want to dance around the room every bit as much as a Scottish fiddler's reel :sobstory: (I blame my DNA for that one -- I figure the love of Banghra and Sikhi must be fond remembrances of a past life? Does anyone talk about that here at all -- past lives and reincarnations and what access we have to any of that?)

Two thoughts about the video:
Waaah! I want an English translation of the lecture! :acry2:

and

Could they have made the background that's displayed during the refrain any *more* nauseating...? :sigh: LOL I get motion sickness so easy these days. Bleah. (Side note: the little green smiley who looks like he's about to barf has the same number assigned as the "feedback please" sign-holding smiley -- A26 -- I thought as Mistress of Smileys, you'd want to be apprised!)

Thank you for sharing that, Mai ji -- great stuff! Are there more like that out there?

If so, could you please post the link?

:thx:
 

Ishna

Writer
SPNer
May 9, 2006
3,261
5,192
Greetings all

Dear Siri Kamala ji,
To be official, the SRM only speaks of dying the beard.

This is why a rule book without justifications does not do the trick. We can't interpret this as "don't dye the beard". We need to ask ourselves why not? If we don't know why we're doing something, it's blind ritualism.

I doubt the Guru would instruct people not to dye their beards and leave it at that. I'm sure the Divine Energy that created the Entire Universe and multitude of worlds and millions of creatures would be concerned if you dyed your beard or your collar to match the cuffs (teehee, naughty Ishna!).

I spent my highschool years with hairy legs and armpits (I was Pagan at the time). My mum was so angry with that choice. She yelled at me one day "You're a Pagan, you worship a Goddess, at least you can make yourself look feminine!" My response was something along the lines of "this is how my Goddess made me, so this is her standard of feminine, why should I question that?" with ample lashings of teenage know-it-all tone, teehee.

It wasn't until I left my boyfriend that I started shaving, to attract a partner. Now that I am married, I find myself in a predicament -- my husband prefers hairlessness. I don't care either way -- it really doesn't phase me in the foggiest whether I have hairy legs or not. But I don't want to embarris him, so I shave for his sake.

By getting hung-up on keeping my hair as bad as getting hung-up on removing it? I think Kabir ji's point (and by extension, the Guru's) is that it doesn't matter whether you have hair or not, it's your state of mind which is the overriding factor. I can't fathom why we would be told over and over and over again that the physical is an illusion, you can do all kinds of charity but if you don't vibrate Naam it is all useless, yet at the same time be told we need to keep every hair on our body.

I keep my head hair as an outward sign of my committment, which I think is what Guru Gobind Singh ji was intending. No one needs to know what is or isn't under my clothes.

I respect those who keep their hair. More power to you, Mai ji and others who have made this decision.

I fear I'm going off thread topic so I'll be quiet now.

Ishna
 

spnadmin

1947-2014 (Archived)
SPNer
Jun 17, 2004
14,500
19,219
ishna ji

What I am about to say is only a small part of all that I have to say on this subject. And I do not really think that I, as one more person weighing in, would be helpful at this time. So all I want to point to is the cultural component of the controversy regarding kesh. For if it were not true that, in some cultures being smooth is a mark of femininity, and in others shaving is required for cleanliness, and for yet others it means both femininity and cleanliness, we would not be having this conversation at all.

Now your mother summed up the cultural reality from where she was standing, from her vantage point.
She yelled at me one day "You're a Pagan, you worship a Goddess, at least you can make yourself look feminine!" My response was something along the lines of "this is how my Goddess made me, so this is her standard of feminine, why should I question that?" with ample lashings of teenage know-it-all tone, teehee.

My mother would often scold me to wear a girdle and rouge -- because in the mid-West United States a proper woman always wore a girdle and rouge. And to show how culturally bound that is -- today we don't even call it "rouge" but "blush," and no one wears a girdle unless they have a hernia. We wear "body shapers."

So in Guru Nanak's time what was the story? Muslims shaved all parts of their body and clipped their hair and their beards because to do so was to be "clean." True even today. This was cultural as much as religious because culture and religion were not then, nor are they now, easy to untangle. I suspect that Hindus had diverse views on the subject of hair, because some ascetics did not shave or clip their hair and others did shave, again as a matter of religious practice, integrated with a particular religious culture.

Shaving and being thin are two hallmarks of femininity in some parts of the western world, as is getting a regular manicure and pedicure. But these are also hallmarks of femininity in parts of the eastern world as well. Chinese women are expected to keep thin, and in Thailand, following the delivery of a child women wear stomach wraps so that their abdomens will snap back into shape and not sag.

In other part of the western world, hair on your legs, armpits, and upper lip are considered marks of beauty, as in Italy or Argentina. Among African American women shaving is not generally pursued.

So in my humble opinion, the discussion of kesh has to acknowledge that some of the expressions of worry are at rock bottom about finding the strength to challenge cultural norms - which can change and do change. And the argument that kesh does not in and of itself lead you to God is kind of like dodging the challenge.

Now back to the question of why practicing Sikhs keep kesh, or should keep kesh. At this point I plan to keep my thoughts to myself - for now. There has been and will always be a wide variety of answers given to this question. It is probably more important for any individual to know why he or she does it, without having to feel the need to give justification, or without having to go to court to defend the right to do it.


And every time a Sikh protests, he/she is only making it that much easier for the courts all over the world to question all of the kakkars required of amritdhari Sikhs.

So I know I have not helped to answer your question, but I think you reflected in a very useful and insightful way. :) I did not say I would be brief LOL
 
Sep 8, 2010
70
74
Los Angeles
Hardip Singh Ji,

I think it is perfectly fine to remove such unnatural growth of hair from her face.

Key word out here is unnatural. Take an example of a benign tumor that grows on somebody's forehead. If the tumor is benign(non-cancer) then it isn't really harmful to the person's health. But such growth would still be surgically removed because it is unnatural.

My father is a keshdhari sikh and an established surgeon. Couple of times a month he gets such a patient who wants to have a surgery done to remove a benign tumors or excess skin growth from face or other body parts. Last year he got a patient who happened to be a devout sikh lady. Her tumor was just above her right ear but was neither painful nor malignant i.e. it was completely harmless. But she wanted it removed.
Now to perform the surgery my father needed to at least shave the region where he was going to make the incisions in the skin. It became an issue when she stated that she didn't want any of her hair cut.
My father being a sikh himself understood what here thought process was but her demand was impossible to meet. So my father asked her that since both- her hair and the tumor are a gift from God why was she doing away with one while trying to keep the other. Her response was because the tumor is unnatural. Anyhow she finally agreed to having small amount of hair shaved around the tumor and surgery went well.

If removing a benign tumor is not wrong then removing unnatural hair isn't wrong either, since both are gifts of God.
 

spnadmin

1947-2014 (Archived)
SPNer
Jun 17, 2004
14,500
19,219
I was thinking of changing the thread title because it is actually misleading. How is hair on any part of the body "unnatura? " I asked before, and no one has explained that yet. There is always hair on a human face, sometimes nearly invisible down, and other times heavy, on both men and women. Get out a magnifying mirror and check - you may have light lip hair. Others may have a heavier coat.

At what point does facial hair become abnormal though benign? Is it more abnormal for women or more un-natural for men to have a heavy coat of lip and chin hair?

So I think what we are really talking about is "excessive." But wait -- What is excessive? Excessive facial hair. What does that mean? What standard, and whose standards are used to determine "un-natural" or "excessive?" What model of natural or acceptable do we use to decide whether hair is either un-natural or excessive? I think I will leave the title alone.
 

Ishna

Writer
SPNer
May 9, 2006
3,261
5,192
Spnadmin Ji

No one has responded to your question because it is very tricky to answer!

There can't be one kind of "normal" amount of facial hair for women, because everyone's body is different so some may produce more and others may produce less. The average of this is the amount which would be "normal", but since so many women remove their hairs then this is an impossible average to calculate.

Some info from the first Google result I found... http://www.hormonehelpny.com/column/hormoneshair2.htm

"Because I see many women with increased hair growth in my practice, I am often asked how much hair is normal for a woman. There is no absolute answer. Half of American women remove facial hair at least once in a while and ten percent remove it two or more times a week. Many of the women I see in my practice remove even more often. Some even use a razor once or twice a day because their facial hair grows as quickly as a man’s. Heavy hair growth on women is not as rare as people think because women with this unfortunate problem do all they can to hide it. "

"
There is no sharp dividing line between normal and abnormal amounts of hair. Facial and body hair is a very personal matter and so a personal definition is appropriate: hair that is enough to make a woman afraid that it will show is too much. However this does not mean that a medical problem is present. A few hairs in the following locations are normal for a woman: outer corners of the upper lip, the chin, around the nipples, between the navel and pubic region and the tops of the thighs. If a woman has more than light growth of hair in these places or if there is wider coverage of face and body, then the condition of hirsutism can be said to be present. This degree of extra hair is reason for medical evaluation, especially if accompanied by irregular periods or weight problems."

If so many American women remove their hairs, that suggests the hair being present is actually normal, to me anyway.

My step-daughter is quite dark haired. She is constantly removing her arm, leg and lip hairs. At first she was saying its because she likes how it feels and looks. Now she's getting older and the novelty is wearing off, she's come around to the logical reason "because society tells me I have to remove it to be accepted".

So I guess that's the crux... a woman is free to keep her most likely biologically normal facial hair if she's willing to be unaccepted by (a high percentage of Western) society. Looked at sideways... thought to have a social disorder... thought to be a bit mentally slow... thought to be dirty... thought to not care enough about herself or too dumb to realise... those are big pills to swallow, and would be more of a block to someone's spirituality I think than putting ones foot down against societal "norms".

Unfortunately I don't see society changing anytime soon with regards to facial (or other!) hair on women (unless it's on their head!!!).

Ishna
 
Last edited:

spnadmin

1947-2014 (Archived)
SPNer
Jun 17, 2004
14,500
19,219
Thank you very much for your incisive answer Ishna ji

So I guess that's the crux... a woman is free to keep her most likely biologically normal facial hair if she's willing to be unaccepted by (a high percentage of Western) society. Looked at sideways... thought to have a social disorder... thought to be a bit mentally slow... thought to be dirty... thought to not care enough about herself or too dumb to realise... those are big pills to swallow, and would be more of a block to someone's spirituality I think than putting ones foot down against societal "norms".

It is all about bucking the system. That is something that Sikhs have done throughout history.
 

Ishna

Writer
SPNer
May 9, 2006
3,261
5,192
Bucking the system is a lot easier when you have a strong Sangat behind you. I look around my local sangat... most of the women there have preened eyebrows and I haven't seen any mustaches or beards on the ladies yet... Most of them wear makeup and really pretty salwar kameez and I overheard an older lady saying (within earshot of me, the white girl who wears the same salwar kameez to Gurdwara week-in week-out because it's the only one she owns and they're not cheap where she lives!!) you should always wear your best clothes because you're in the company of Guruji... made me feel self conscious and wonder briefly if I should be wearing makeup too so I "look my best".

Of course, I don't, but perhaps some Sikhs have this idea now?

It has to start with the Sikh community accepting hairs, and sadly this doesn't seem to be the general case. I would love to anonymously survey my local sangat!

Spnadmin ji, can we run a poll on the acceptance of bodily and facial hair on women for this online sangat?

Ishna
 

Mai Harinder Kaur

Mentor
Writer
SPNer
Oct 5, 2006
1,755
2,735
72
British Columbia, Canada
I hate make up. This is personal preference, not part of my religious belief. I just don't like painted faces. When I am told that I'd look so much better with make-up, "I always reply, "Not better, just different. More socially acceptable. The make up comment is usually followed by how cute I would look with a sexy, fluffy hairdo. The response to the is, "Hey, lady, I'm 58. I'm way past cute." By the time they're ready to tackle my facial hair, they have almost always given upon trying to "improve" my appearance.

I did once give myself a virtual make over to see what I'd actually look like. The hilarious - to me, at least - results can be found at https://sites.google.com/site/thanksandchardikala/improving-on-perfection
 

Ishna

Writer
SPNer
May 9, 2006
3,261
5,192
I'm with you on the make-up Mai ji! The best anyone can get out of me is a smear of lipstick occasionally. I swear I look like a raccoon if I try to put anything around my eyes!

And also, thanks for the link to your site! "Can I improve on perfection?" Good title, teehee!! cheeringkudi

Ish
 
📌 For all latest updates, follow the Official Sikh Philosophy Network Whatsapp Channel:
Top