Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Struggles of Non-Punjabi Sikhs

Just a forewarning. First of all, I know there are Indian Sikhs who aren't Punjabi. But when I say "Non-Punjabi Sikhs", in this case, I am referring to white, black, Asian, etc. Sikhs. So there's that. Second of all, some of ya'll Punjabi Sikhs will be able to relate to some of the things I say. So it's great that we can all come together and relate to the struggle somehow lol.

Oh, and this might be long. But bless my hard work by reading it anyway. And as always, excuse me for incorrect grammar. Thank you ji πŸ™

The STARES:
Have you ever been the only white/Indian/black person in a room? Feels awkward, doesn't it? You know what doesn't help? When half the room decides to stare at you for a very uncomfortable amount of time. Ok, not half the room but a handful of people in the Sangat. I know I'm black. You don't need to remind me of this lol. But to be fair, how many times in your life will you have met a black Sikh? So that's excuses you....for now. And to my convert Sikhs, if you hang around Sangat for enough time, the stares will stop eventually. So just endure it for now.

Language Barrier:
Now, I already made a blog post about this so I'm not going to go in depth. But I'm going to make a bold claim here. If Gurdwaras don't start integrating other languages into their services, Sikhi is going to start disappearing generation by generation. Now, I already hear some of y'all. "Learn Punjabi Gurpreet!" Yeah, sure. But what am I (and other converts) going to do in the meantime? Learning a language takes time.

Different Cuisine:
Before I became a Sikh, I had zero experience with Indian food. So when I converted and started eating Indian food, let me just say it was a rollercoaster ride. My taste buds were in agreement with the new food, but my stomach....yeah, it wasn't. This resulted in frequent trips to the bathroom lol. Now, I crave for Indian food. Like Maggi and pakoraπŸ‘Œ

Different Style of Clothing:
Growing up, I've always been a shirt and jeans person. I mean, it's normal to wear jeans and a t-shirt here. But not in a Gurdwara πŸ˜‚ Literally almost all the ladies are dressed in traditional Punjabi suits. I don't own any personally, but I enjoy dressing up in them. That doesn't mean though I'm going to give up my jeans and t-shirt. I don't care how much the aunties talk (LOL), it's what I'm most comfortable in. That's probably another reason why a few people might stare. Plus, have you seen how expensive it is to buy suits? Like, danggggg

Sangat:
We would love to think that all Gurdwaras are places of welcome and love. But there are some Sangats out there who are flat out mean, exclusive, and racist/casteist. I've heard multiple stories from several Sikh converts who have gone to Gurdwaras and been flat out ignored, rejected, discriminated against, etc. As Sikhs, we are supposed to be nirvair (without hate). What picture does that paint of Sikhs when they behave in this way? I've been to a few Gurdwaras and been ignored. It is not a good feeling. It drives people away from Sikhi, Sikhs, and must importantly, our Guru. Also, I've had experiences where it's time to receive Prashad in a sangat (not the one I'm attending now), and the guy handing out prashad pretends like I'm not even there and acts like he's going to skip me. Like, you can tell when it's done intentionally versus when it's accidental. And since prashad is one of my favorite foods, that is an automatic way to get on my dislike list. So I make a benti to the Sangat. Please, PLEASE say hi if you see a new person in your sangat, and ask them how they're doing. That could change their whole view on the Gurdwara. Remember, a lot of us converts are coming into Sikhi without our families, friends, and community in general. We are looking for Sangat, a family who can help us grow.

Learning about Sikhi:
Thank God for the internet, because without it, my knowledge of Sikhi would be comparable smaller to what I know now. There should be some Sikh organization here in the US catered toward helping converts learn about this religion (sort of like Basics of Sikhi). Heck, I am an aspiring entrepreneur so might just go ahead and do it myself. So, anybody willing to invest in my project? No? Didn't think so πŸ˜‚

So, I'm going to end this. Hope you were enlightened. As always, if I offended anybody, just know I didn't mean to offend you. I'm just expressing my thoughts, on my laptop, on my blog. I leave you with this funny pic.


Update (7/21/2018): I honestly love this blog post. Now that I've 85% integrated myself into the Sikh community, I can help other converts integrate into it as well. And lol, that lady though. 






8 comments:

  1. Thank you Gurpreet! As a new convert myself I'm trying to navigate the whole experience. Your blogs are really encouraging to me!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I’m glad that I can encourage you Rambir! The journey for you won’t be easy, but I believe you’ll have the strength to make it.

      Delete
  2. Thank you for sharing.. so enlightening for us all ... the cultural/regional aspect need to be somewhat detached from the spiritual/religious aspect to make Sikhi a more universal faith that it is meant to be...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is exactly what I’m getting at! Thank you Harbhajan Ji for summarizing my thoughts. I will hopefully be seeing you this Spring Break

      Delete
  3. Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh. Language is a big issue when it comes to Sikh parchar. Since most parcharaks are Punjabi therefore Punjabi is the language used by 99% parcharaks. However, time is changing, we now have Basics of Sikhi, Nanak Naam, Bhai Sukha Singh Ji who use English as medium of parchar. Their videos can guide you. However, sooner or later you will have to learn Punjabi since all Sikhi related literature is in Punjabi language. As for sangat, try and avoid old age Punjabis, they are the ones who have racism in their eyes especially against blacks. Try sangat with younger generation amritdhari kids. They are actually nirvair.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello sir. Thank you for your comment. Yes, we do have Basics of Sikhi, Nanak Naam, Bhai Sukha Singh, etc., but do you notice one thing they share in common? They are all based in the UK. So unfortunately, I’m limited to whatever they post online. And if I have deeper questions, unless they come to Texas (yeah, probably won’t happen), I’m stuck. The US has only one parchar group I can think of. That is quite sad. And Punjabi literature can (and has) be translated. And about the old Punjabis, I would like to give my experiences with them. When you first meet them, yeah, they don’t trust you. They are suspicious of you, distance themselves from you, and really don’t know how to react to you. BUT, over time, as they see you week after week, get to kind of watch you, see what kind of person you are, etc. a miracle happens. They actually warm up to you. They start to talk to you in the few English words they know, they greet you, and they appear no longer suspicious. It takes time, but that’s what has happened with the old people in my Sangat. And brother, sadly we do not have younger generation Amritdhari kids. Im going to guess you’re not from the US.

      Delete
  4. I guess I should also say that is not targeted at my Sangat (nor my Sangat back home). Sure, I experienced a little bit of this at first, but over time they’ve become like family to me. This post is elaborating on experiences with other Gurdwaras within the state. But I should also say there’s some haven’t visited yet as well.

    ReplyDelete
  5. The STARES: I can identify with you in this. In 1975, I landed in Sao Paulo, Brazil with my black turban on at the age of 21. They had not seen a Sikh before.For me, a turban has always been my asset, in the UK at first and then all over where I went/lived including Brazil.
    It was all very positive though. I left Brazil in 1985, went back a couple of times and still have many of my "Brazilian families" who come and visit me.
    Having said that, I understand the kind of staring you are talking about.

    Language Barrier: This is the achilles heel in all aspects. I used to explain the Hukumnaama in English at the Gurdwara and did that for some years till the projectors came along.
    Now, Bhai Sahib and I choose a Shabad of the week which he sings with his partners and then I elaborate it. This happens in the middle of the program. We have many non-Sikhs that visit our Gurdwara. Perhaps you may convince the management to do the same.

    Learning about Sikhi: You may visit Sikhphilosophy.net where we welcome all kinds of people. Many of our members are converts. In fact our main Admin was a convert who was born in an Italian family and was head of the Psychology Department of a University in the east coast. Sadly, life was snatched from Narayanjot Kaur too early due to cancer.

    Lastly, I would like to add that this is the first time I have read your blog and loved it!
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts

    ReplyDelete

Two Different Journeys, One Destination

With the blessing and a request from the author, today I will be giving my opinions on the written piece called "Sikh Spiritual ...