For the past two days I have been getting to know my flat mates in halls of residence. They are really nice people and very easy to talk to and have a laugh with. As I am a Senior Student for the Block where I am living (it's like being a Warden or helper for the residents), people have been coming up to me and asking about the Freshers Events i.e. student events during the week at night-clubs.
People have been asking me "are you coming?", "did you go last year", "where's the best pub around here", and "what you do tonight?". Society expects us to "fit in". I felt awkward when people ask questions about clubbing, because I feel will they understand if I say I don't go clubbing, I don't go to pubs and I don't drink?
I was standing outside guiding the students to their rooms on the first day of people moving into Halls. A group of boys came and asked, "Excuse mate. Do you know which the best pub is or bar around here?" I said, "err... I wouldn't know. I don't go to pubs or bars." The group of boys were puzzled and showed an expression of shock when they heard me say that. One of them then said, "You can't be a student and not know about pubs!?" I smiled and thought it was bit humorous how they expected me to go to pubs and clubs and by not doing so found me to be odd.
Today in the kitchen my flatmates saw my Kirpaan and so they asked me about it. I explained about the Panj Kakkaar being a uniform of the Sikh who is a 'Saint-Warrior' (Santi-Sipaahi), and how each Kakkaar has a symbol (i.e. a meaning) as well as a practical function. The flatmates took a keen interest and were pleased to hear about why I wear a dastaar and Kirpaan etc.
Then one the flatmates asked, "So do you have trouble going to clubs?" You feel the pressure of Kaljug, the pressure of society to conform and you are made to feel out of place for being different. However, I was direct and straight and said, "I don't go clubbing or go to pubs". The flatmates where surprised and there faces expressed a bit of confusion of how I enjoy myself. It is difficult to explain to someone who hasn't experienced the path of the Guru that you can have fun without clubbing, pubbing, drinking sharaab or in sangat with people who doing those things. You can enjoy "anand" in Saadh Sangat and doing other things which don't involve alcohol, smoking or provoking the Panj Chor. But, the flatmates respected my principles and Sikh way of life and showed support. The conversation concluded with one of the flatmates saying: "We are lucky to have a Sikh living with us in our flat."
Even yesterday morning, a Panjabi boy from a Sikh family asked, "Bhaji are you going to the Freshers event at Inverse (the night-club)?" I had to bite the bullet and be honest with him without giving a round about answer (which society's pressures push us to do). I said, "I am Amritdhari and don't feel going to those places." However, the Bhaji seemed okay with me and respected me for the way of life I choose to live.
I learnt that as long as a person respects their own way of life, respects themselves and respects the principles he or she stands for and is proud of them, then others will admire and respect you for that and not be judgemental. However, if we ourselves are unsure of our way of life, unsure of our principles and not able to give our Rehat the respect it deserves, then you will be swooped into following others like a sheep and compromising what you stand for in order to "fit in" and "not be awkward".
Thank you to my Guru who gave me the name "Singh" (meaning 'lion') and reminding me to stick out of the crowd and be unique and distinct and not to follow the crowd like a sheep.
The Guru is great, and great is His Sikhi!