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Vaisakhi is celebrated through:
1. harvest festivals
2. parades and nagar kirtans commemorating the establishment of the Akal Khalsa and, least importantly,
3. site redesigns!
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A group of athletic and like-minded Sikhs in Texas make up the roster of Team Khalsa. Each player signs a contract promising to abide by the teachings of the Guru Granth: to not smoke, drink, do drugs, or cut one’s hair.
Check out the orange jerseys and all those awesome layups and passes. (Fast forward to 3:45 and you’ll see what I mean.) Now how heavy is that?!
Forget your NCAA bracket predictions. Bet on these guys to make a scene and join the Facebook group instead.
“Having been born and raised as a non-Sikh and imbued since early girlhood with society’s expectations of how a well-groomed woman should look, this acceptance requires frequent rejection of my previously-inculcated notions of femininity, in order to fully embrace a concept of inner and outer beauty that is in alignment with the Divine Will.
As I learn and grow as a Sikh, and find meaningful ways of being part of and serving the Panth, I try my best to keep in the forefront of my mind that my talents and accomplishments come through me, not from me: they are all manifestations of His Grace. I need to be ever-vigilant that my feelings of personal gratification never insidiously morph into smug and preachy self-righteousness…. And, speaking of gratification, although I know that becoming Amritdhari is a significant milestone along the Path but not its end or pinnacle…”
The first novel written in Punjabi has been adapted into an animated film!
If this is the musical score then the movie is sure to rock.
Published in 1898 Bhai Vir Singh’s Sundri (or Sundari) was written with the aim of “boosting the morale of the Sikhs [of their own history and cultural heritage] after the downfall and subsequent annexation of the kingdom of Punjab.” Written with a literary rhythm and flow I could only hope to emulate, Bhai Vir Singh paints Sundri as a heroine who embodies the Khalsa virtues of discipline, courage and compassion through her strength as a woman and her fighting and equestrian spirit.
I’m decidedly indecided to begin the beginning of my spiritual path.
Read that three times fast.
Vaisakhi is around the corner. And in each of the five different gurudwaras I have visited during the past few weeks, Bhai Sahibs have been encouraging their congregations to feel the spirit within, and with Waheguru’s grace, embrace Amrit and join the league of saint-soldiers.
And I’m inclined to do so. I would have walked forward at Guru Gobind Singh’s request. I live the Sikh way of life… well, kind of.
I’d say that I’ve got the seva and compassion aspect covered in some sense. But can I wake up at amrit vela everyday instead of only on days when I have to be at work at 4 AM? Can I do nitnem and reflect on it each day? Can I immerse myself with the sangat as much as possible rather than only on the occasional evening or weekend? Yes, I’m disciplined and guru-centered and I already do much of the above. Yes, I can do this.
Where is the hesitation coming from then? Deep down inside I think about how it would be to stop shaping my eyebrows. I’ve been able to put the razors and wax aside for a few years, but I can’t seem to get over the tweezer-to-eyebrow action completely. Deep down inside I wonder if this would make the circle of guys I may be interested in become even smaller than it is already. That sounds so horribly lame. And it is. I ultimately want to spend my life with someone who considers his spiritual growth equally as important and wants to raise a family of strong, open-minded, confident, and bright Gursikhs. So why am I even considering this notion? Deep down inside I wonder how I could even entertain taking this step if my knowledge of Sikhi just skims the surface and I barely know how to read and write Gurmukhi. I mean, I just maintain a silly and superfluous blog that gets a total readership of 30 on a good day. Deep down inside I wonder if the non-amritdhari community will begin to maintain their distance from me because I am not one of them. I would be deeply hurt by this as inclusivity is what I strive for. But I already feel that way sometimes with those who are amritdhari so there’s another deep down feeling that lacks substance. And lastly, deep down inside I wonder how it would be to give up my family name. All its wonderful history and ties to generations past. The nice ring it has to it. Its uniqueness. And all the forms I would have to fill out to have it officially changed.
I’m decidedly weak. I’m indecidedly strong. I wish I could make a decision. With Waheguru’s kirpa I hope I make the right one in due time.
Working in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) absorbs me both mind and soul. The ICU is not only a sanctuary for those who are critically ill; it is my tent within the camp of caring for others. It has propagated my desire to capture the spirit of Khalsa: to be selfless, noble, and brave while in constant meditation of Waheguru. I am a strong, spirited and optimistic soldier protecting the sick. My ego, however, is tamed as I see Waheguru’s expression in every thought, decision, and action that is made by both myself and others. Although my attending may believe otherwise, I kindly obey the orders of my guru to assist in both the processes of restoration and death.
The ICU can be terrifying and stressful to both young doctors and patients alike, yet it is a place where miracles often happen and it always manages to tug at my Sikhi strings without fail. I feel the rhythm of Khalsa enrapture my senses when I enter the unit. I hear it bounding against me as I make my rounds through each patient’s room. I hear it in the beeps of the telemetry monitors and ventilators. I hear it permeate through the chaotic motions of a resuscitation. I hear it softly emerge behind conversations of end-of-life care. I hear it shout gloriously when a person leaves the ICU alive and well.
“When the Khalsa runs, he is in trance. On the bed of thorns, he lies on roses. Outside is immaterial; it is the aim of life that matters. The Khalsa is he who has found the centre of life and has enshrined God in the temple of his heart. The Khalsa looks at the world from a supreme height, blessing all, helping all, loving all, with his beautiful looks from the inner self of all life.”1
I often yearn to leave my Sahajdhari status and live as a Khalsa, and it usually reaches its zenith when I’m in the ICU. Recently, however, I have noticed the rhythm of Khalsa pulsating within my consciousness even when I’m outside of the ICU. I remember singing “we are the Khalsa, mighty mighty Khalsa” when I was a child and wondering whether a modern Sikh could truly invoke Khalsa and live in a similar fashion. Funny how opinions change over time. Perhaps feeling the rhythm inside oneself is the first step to realization of its possibility.
1 Creation and the Purpose of Khalsa, Puran Singh