Monday, November 13, 2006

A Long Saturday

On Saturday I was at work and sitting at the cashier desk. One of the members of staff came to the cashier till and asked me "HOW LONG IS YOUR HAIR?" So I said, "I think it comes up to here". I explained that before I used to cut my hair and used to be a NON-PRACTICING Sikh and now I am a PRACTICING Sikh. The Gora repeated what I said, "So you're saying before you were a non-practicing Sikh and had cut hair? Right? And now you are wearing a turban and have long hair and are a practicing Sikh?" I said, "Yes". Just as I said that I hear a loud voice "You are either A SIKH or NOT a Sikh - there is NO SUCH THING as practicing Sikh or non-practicing Sikh." I was SHOCKED. I turned around (to where the customer stands to be served) and saw a middle-aged Gora standing there. He was dressed in worn work overalls and wearing a baseball cap.

He said to me, "What are you saying mate? Either you are a Sikh - keep the hair, wear the turban and follow the Path, or you are not a Sikh. There is NO INBETWEEN. A SIKH IS A SIKH." I felt overwhelmed and was gob smacked like I have seen a GHOST! The small town I live there are about 65 Panjabi families out of which only about 5 or so elderly people are Keshdhari. I was taken aback about how he knew about Sikhi. The customer's interruption to the conversation made my mind keep on contemplating on the words of Guru Gobind Singh jee in Bhai Desa Singh jee's Rehitnaamaa:
ਰਹਿਣੀ ਰਹੈ ਸੋਈ ਸਿਖ ਮੇਰਾ ॥ ਉਹ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਮੈ ਉਸ ਕਾ ਚੇਰਾ ॥
rehiNee rehai soee sikh meraa.
ouh saahib mai us kaa cheeraa.

One who lives Rehit (the way of life) is my Sikh.
That person is my Master and I am his disciple.

ਰਹਿਤ ਬਿਨਾਂ ਨਿਹ ਸਿਖ ਕਹਾਵੈ ॥ ਰਹਿਤ ਬਿਨਾਂ ਦਰ ਚੋਟਾਂ ਖਾਵੈ ॥
rehit binaa(n) neh sikh kahaavai.
rehit binaa(n) dar chottaa(n) khaavai.

Without Rehit (the way of life) one cannot be called a Sikh.
Without Rehit (the way of life) one will struggle (in life).

(Rehitnaama - Bhai Desa Singh jee)

I felt very shameful that I had to be reminded by a random customer that a Sikh is one who walks the walk, talks the talk and is someone who is striving to live Sikhi. I accepted the man's statement and told him that he was right. The customer stood there talking to me for about HALF AN HOUR. I asked him how he knew about Singhs and he said, "If you have a thirst for knowledge then you will find out some how." The poor man was so caught up in the conversation that he forgot his credit card in the shop! (I tried going after him but couldn't see him the dark!).

Afterwards the young boy working with me said, "Manvir, Manvir... I can show off what I know about Sikhism... Let me tell you what you are wearing on your hands." I said, "Go for it." He said, "You are wearing a GURDWARA on your hands." I couldn't stop but laugh! lol. I explained that the Gurdwara is a building, bit like a place of worship and that I was wearing a KaRaa. He said, "O Gosh! Yeah, yeah... I knew that" (with an embarrassed face) :)

In the evening I was going to go to Southall but had a problem with the car. The Road Recovery people had to be phoned and within 20 or 30 minutes a young man arrived with his recovery truck. Although it was cold and frustrating, but seeing this man was very inspirational. He was someone who exemplifies KIRAT KAMAAYEE ( honest livelihood).

The man was GENUINELY trying to help us rather than thinking of money. The way he was working reflected the respect he had for the customer. I was very impressed by his work attitude, genuine concern and honest nature. The man told us that he lived with his wife, children and his DISABLED FATHER. Him and his wife care for their father. I was pleasantly surprised to see a Gora living with his parents and selflessly caring for his disabled parent rather than choose the option of leaving his disabled parent in nursing care as one would generally perceive the attitude of wider society to be. He said his wife always has food ready on the table and that his children go to a Church School and that he tries his best to live an honest and hardworking life. Out of a bad situation Vaheguru caused us to meet a GOOD SOUL.


Anonymous said...

haahahaha i can relate to your incident in store with some of my experiences. The best is when you get kids just stare at you as they walk across - even little babies lean out of their prams to see me!

Anonymous said...

It is lovely to meet good souls, especially those that radiate their virtues. I know most cultures/races have their stereotypes, but what you said here "I was pleasantly surprised to see a Gora caring for his parents, let alone disabled parents" is quite patronising, I won't mention how racist it sounds--although I'm sure you had good intentions. I think it's prudent to see what we are publishing and more importantly to realise that just because the majority of people do things a certain one it doesn't mean that is how everyone acts...

Manvir Singh Khalsa said...

Anonymous - I didn't wish to cause offense. I based that on what I have seen. "Most" people "GENERALLY" don't wish to live with their parents or even if they do they see it a negative because of how society portrays it.

Guru Rakha

singhu said...

People use their own mat instead of gurmat, parents sewa is first, if we want gurujee blessing....


rsingh said...

novtej thats just because your so good looking bruv. haha
Im just glad you got to London on Sunday lol

Manvir Singh Khalsa said...

I was surprised that I got to South Gate as well! I was worried I might get lost but I put on Keertan full blast and did VaahiGuroo simran... so what could possibly go wrong :D

I remember when I was younger I used to look at London trafic and say "When I get older how on earth would I drive through this." With Guru's Kirpaa it ain't that bad driving through traffic however sometimes in Southall I rely on doing Ardaas (if not, I am sure I would have had an accident by now!)

Guru Rakha

Anonymous said...

Manvir Singh - great post. I had more people in Germany come up to me and say "sat sri akal" within the 9 months I was there, than the 20 years I have been in North America. Point is, especially in Europe one would be surprised how many people know about our faith. Whether UK counts as Europe...that's a debatable topic! ;-)

P.S. - Is it your mother that is featured in the recent issue of Kaurs magazine? Great inspiration!

Carhdi kala!

Manvir Singh Khalsa said...

Vahiguroo... hanjee its my mum in the Kaurs Magazine.

Davinder Singh said...

Akhand Jaap 10 will take place on the 25th November in Birmingham UK.

Visit for futher info.

singh khalsa said...

So parents seva is automatically assumed to be happening because someone chooses to live with Mummy and Daddy Ji!!!

How hilarious and naive!!!

Actually have a look at the so-called seeming do-gooders who stay and home with their parents - it's a hotel service they desire (free food on the table and a roof over their heads) in the name of some so called tradition and supposed 'seva'.

Guru Nanak Dev Ji didn't live with his parents after his marriage - perhaps have a read up about that rather than listening to the fairy tales punjabi granthis like to tell in Gurdwaras.

Also consider the fact that many live with their parents because of financial and economic reasons - it is becoming well documented in the UK that the 'wider society' is returning to extended family arrangements, it is a simple function of economic standing, not because they wish to do 'seva', please let's look beyond what we would 'like to see/think' and actually at what happens.

Finally, with all the noise that gets made today about how Punjabi culture and Sikhi are mutually exclusive (typically from those who are neophytes themselves), it is always hilarious to see "Sikhs" arguing that extended family is a "Sikh tradition" and "walking holding hands with one's spouse" is anti-Gurmat because "what will others think!!!"