SALDEF is out doing its job again, protecting the first amendment rights of Sikh Americans. Go SALDEF!
The New York Times recently published an article on Sikh youth in India giving up their identities. As a turban-wearing Sikh myself, I would like to share my experience with the Sikh identity.
I will say that the uniqueness afforded to me by being a Sikh has helped me in my life. Because I’ve had to stand out, I’ve had to know who I am. I’m more likely to take an unpopular viewpoint or do something unexpected, and I’m more likely to get attention when I speak.
What we need to remember is that the Sikh identity–the turban, the uncut hair, the five k’s–is a modern identity. If religions had version numbers, Sikhism is one of the newest versions. The gurus weren’t kidding when they said revolutionary things like men and women are completely equal, practices like female infanticide should be banned, and that anyone is free to read the scriptures. The Sikh identity is another modern piece of the Sikh framework that the gurus have given us. We often think it’s from the deep dark past, but it’s not. It’s the latest thing. It is modern on the time scale of the world’s religions.
I can also say that I’ve grown up in the United States, and I’ve never been to India. I’ve kept the Sikh identity this entire time. I’ve attended some of the best schools in the nation and had every opportunity. I can do whatever I want. I’ve been on the largest rollercoasters, windsurfed, snowboarded–you name it. My Sikh identity is not the smallest obstacle to the things I can do.
So my identity has helped me, it’s modern, and it’s never been an obstacle. But at the end of the day, religion is ultimately a personal thing. Don’t live the life that other people expect of you. Live the life you want to live. If you’ve been born in to the Sikh way of life, take a minute and consider the Sikh path, and think about its strengths and weaknesses. Does the life you want to live include following the Sikh path? If it does, please learn, question, and walk on the path to be a Sikh. That’s a path I’ve chosen, and so far I am happy and proud of that choice.
CNN has posted a great story on arranged marriage that takes a Sikh wedding as an example. I’ve never been to India, but it seems so familiar. Both the bride and groom have MBAs. I’m not sure how my life is going to play out. This video paints a fairly rosy picture of arranged marriage. Make sure you watch it.