Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Women's Association Meeting (Part 1)


Reading the title you may think "What does Manvir Singh have to do with a Women's Association?" Waheguru. Just to clarify I have not joined a Women's Association nor am I planned to! hehe. Last month, on Tuesday June 17th, Daas was invited to somebody's house to do a talk about Sikhi. At first it was strange that an English lady wanted me to come to her house to do a talk about Sikhi but afterwards she explained that they are a local group called "Women's Association". This group is part of a national network who organise small groups in all towns and communities for women to get together and do community activities. The meetings of the Women's Association are held at different members' house on a fortnightly basis.

I arrived at the house at 8pm and was warmly greeted by the elderly lady whose house it was. I went to the living room and there were about ten ladies in total. Most of them were probably over 40 years old and over. The meeting started with the Women's Association introducing themselves and what their group does. Then Daas was given time to talk about Sikhi with time for questions and answers afterwards.

To begin the talk, I asked, "Have any of you seen anyone wearing a turban?" Everyone said that they had. I asked, "Has everyone heard of Sikhs or the Sikh religion." Everyone said that they had heard of Sikhi but they didn't know anything about it. So I gave the following brief summary about Sikhi:

"I am a Sikh. A Sikh is a follower of the Sikh religion. We are neither Hindus nor Muslims. We originate from the Panjab in Northern India, which is south of the Himalayas. Panjab has the most fertile land in India and is known as the bread basket of India. The Sikh religion is a unique and distinct faith that was revealed through Guru Nanak jee in the late 15th century."

Some of the ladies shared that they had travelled to India but not to the Panjab. They were interested in travelling to Panjab the next time they go on holiday to India.

"Guru literally means "teacher" or "master" but for Sikhs the Light of God radiated to all humanity through the Guru and through whom we can experience the Divine Truth. We have Ten Masters. After the Tenth, Sri Guru Granth Sahib jee, the Divine Sacred Scripture, is the Guru. Our Guru shows the path of living a total, complete, and perfect lifestyle which brings happiness, content, and balance between the mind, body & soul. The Guru teaches a simple message of living in harmony with the Will of God, remembering the God and recognising that God is within all and everything - "See God IN ALL, or not at all all."

The English ladies were pleased to hear about Sikhi's all embracing and loving nature. I went on to explain the three basic principles of a Sikh's life and how a Sikh strive to live a simple, divine, and disciplined life: (1) preserving and maintaining the God given body in its full glory and majest; (2) having high moral character and treating the opposite gender with the respect of a mother/father, sister/brother, or daughter/son; (3) maintaining a healthy lacto-vegetarian diet; and (4) always keep the mind and body pure and sacred through avoiding smoking, alcohol and other intoxicants. This led on to talk about how Sikhs live to serve humanity:

"After September 11th the Sikhs were mistaken to be part of the Taliban and became victims of hate crimes. You may be sitting here and thinking why we wear turbans and why a minority of ignorant people may mistake us for terrorists. There are some similarities between the Taliban and Sikhs. (1) Both Sikh men and the Taliban have beards, although Muslims shave & trim; (2) both Sikhs and the Taliban wear turbans; and (3) both Sikhs and the Taliban are willing to die for their beliefs and principles. However, there is a fundamental difference. That is that a Sikh is also willing to die for another's right of beliefs, a Sikh is willing to lay down his or her life for a non-Sikh."

Everyone was pleasantly surprised to know how Guru Tegh Bahadar jee and the Sikhs throughout history have made sacrifices for maintaining the human rights and liberties of other people, irrespective or religion or race:

"Amnesty International (non-govt. international body for human rights) recognises Guru Tegh Bahadar Sahib jee, the Ninth Master of the Sikhs as the first person in the known recorded history who gave his life for another's freedom and human rights. This is the foundation of world peace. To recognise we are different and not the same. However, to respect our differences, to give each and everyone dignity, love, and to recognise the Divine Light within all."

To end with I went to explain the significance of the Baanaa (Sikh identity) and explained the practical and spiritual meanings of the 5 Ks. I brought a spare Kangha, Kasheraa and Dastaar to show the ladies. Everyone was gob smacked and taken aback at the size of my kachheraa! Waheguru. It seems the most interesting thing they found in the talk was the Kachheraa!! lol

Some of the questions they asked:


To be continued...

7 comments:

gurjeet kaur said...

"(1) preserving and maintaining the God given body in its full glory and majest; (2) having high moral character and treating the opposite gender with the respect of a mother/father, sister/brother, or daughter/son; (3) maintaining a healthy lacto-vegetarian diet; and (4) always keep the mind and body pure and sacred through avoiding smoking, alcohol and other intoxicants."

I really like the way that's worded, instead of saying "Don't cut your hair, don't commit adultery, don't eat meat, and don't take intoxicants."

Sounds much more sophisticated and universal when put in that way.

Anonymous said...

^yeah what bhenji said. i read it twice and then realised it referred to the bujjar kurehits.

bhaji, are you planning on going to khalsa camp this year?

Manvir Singh Khalsa said...

Hanj, with Guru's Kirpaa Daas will be attending Khalsa Camp.

Anonymous said...

bhaji will you be coming to boss camp? :)

Manvir Singh Khalsa said...

I haven't sent me form off yet to Boss Camp!

Wish to attend both Boss Camp and Khalsa Camp.

Anonymous said...

Waheguru ji ka khalsa Waheguru Ji Ki fateh

Veerjio,
You mentioned that Amnesty International recognises Guru Teg Bahadur Sahib's shahidi as first recoded in history for some other faith. Where did you quoted this from? If I can get the citation that would be very helpful.

Daas, Gurpreet Singh

Manvir Singh Khalsa said...

Gurpreet Singh Jee,

I was told that fact by another learned Gursikh in one of the camps I attended a few years back. I will try and track down the official source and post back.

Guru Raakhaa.