Sikhi in Punjab and experience after Sep. 11
by Manvir Singh Khalsa

Vaheguru Ji Ka Khalsa
Vaheguru Ji Ki Fateh

UK, Nov. 20, 2004

Below is a something, which I wrote roughly three years ago. I used to log my experiences on the computer. The article below is my experiences and thoughts just before and during my time at Sixth Form College.

Vaheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Vaheguru Ji Ki Fateh.

Once again, I come back here to write my experiences. It is now early November 2001, summer holidays have past and school has started again. I am now in Sixth Form (in the first year). Before my GCSEs I decided that during my long summer holidays, I wanted to go to India. My dad didn't seem to keen or enthusiastic, however my mum was happy about the idea. I made plans to go with my eldest Bhua Ji (aunt) because she is retired. It is nice when you have someone to go with you, and she also had a wedding to attend in October. So the plan was made for the two of us to go to India. My Bhua Ji was planning to stay for 3 months.

The tickets had been bought and I was excited to go to Panjab, to visit the family and to pay my homage to Siri Darbaar Sahib and other historical Gurdwaras. My dad wanted to me to get a job, but I wanted to go India. Before I went to India I applied for a telesales job. If I got the job then I planned to start once I had come back from India.

The holiday was great. We travelled in Panjab and Delhi. I preferred Panjab to Delhi. In Delhi we stayed with some of my Bhua Ji's friends. I noticed Sikhs in India, especially Delhi wearing caps instead of dastaars (turbans). It was strange. How can the people born in our native country wear caps? People preferred to speak English than Hindi or Panjabi. Even Sikhs or Panjabis who live in Panjab speak Hindi or English. No-one speaks Panjabi. When I spoke Panjabi I was laughed at (in a polite manner). I couldn't believe that people were drifting away from the language given by our Gurus.

In Panjab I saw alcoholics, people who had cut their unshorn hair, Radha Soamis, Nirankaris and other self-proclaimed Satgurus. On the other side I saw inspiring Gursikhs. Generally, Sikhs outside India appreciate Sikhi more. The children of Panjab are gradually speaking Hindi instead of Panjabi. Parents are trimming their children's hair and youngsters are ignorant about our recent Sikh history. It was disturbing to find elderly men had either trimmed their beards or cut their unshorn hair. Children know little about real Sikh practises and principles, and parents don't bother about religion, however instead they were caught up in pity rituals and superstitions.

Sikhs in the villages are more concerned with celebrating Sangrand, Pooran Mashee and Masiyaa rather than Gurpurbs. In some Gurdwaras, there would be a Baba wearing a white pagh and clothes and people would be treating him differently than the normal sangat. It seemed that people were drifting away from seeing Guru Granth Sahib Ji as the eternal Guru and as the light and soul of the Ten Gurus. Instead people flock to people who call themselves 'Sant'.

With Guru's Kirpa, when I arrived back in the UK, straightaway I started the telesales job, which I earlier applied for. Also thanks to Vaheguru Ji I got respectable GCSE results.

At school children and students seemed more tolerant and found me less curious than before. The September 11. attack had not occurred and the English people's curiosity had got triggered on again. Instead of wondering why I was wearing a turban, now they wondered if I was a member of the Taliban or one of Osama Bin Laden's followers. I have had stares from people in streets, cars, at school and down town staring not with curiosity but staring with hatred, 'nafrat' (intolerance), racism and disgust. Some people have even hauled abuse from their cars, and put fingers up while I walk to work or walk back from school.

At school I was walking to school across the field past one of the school buildings. As I was walking a boy dropped his football outside on the field from the classroom on the second floor. To grab my attention to pass the ball, the boy shouted "OIH MATE". I kept walking because I didn't want to throw a football into the classroom. He shouted "OIH, OSAMA BIN LADEN, YEAH. BIN LADEN!" I kept walking and he shouted again "BIN LADEN". I shouted back with frustration and anger.

Another day I was walking home from lunch, and a group of girls said to another boy standing near me, "Oih mate, call him BIN LADEN (pointing at me)." I could here them and see them from the back of my eye, but I kept on walking. Then I hear the main girl of the group say something again. She says, "Look at him, look at Bin Laden, people like him shouldn't be able to walk like that. They should have stones thrown at them and chased (while staring and pointing at me)." I felt shocked, and kept on walking. I didn't know what to do. I got home. I felt so angry, I didn't have anything to eat. On the way back to school I saw the group of girls again. I approached the girls and asked them if they had a problem. I told them I could here them laughing, and saying something to me. If they had said something than I said say it to my face. The girls said, "I DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU ARE GOING ON ABOUT (in a cheeky manner)". I said "WELL I DON'T CARE, IF I SEE YOU SAYING ANYTHING EVER. IF I SEE YOU STARING OR LAUGHING AT ME AGAIN, YOU WILL PAY THE CONSEQUENCES." The girls went quiet and the main girl said WE'VE DONE NOTHING." I walked away. The girls had got the message and walked off to their lesson.

One day, in the morning I was walking to school. I got near the entrance door to the Sixth Form, and then I heard someone shout "OIH LOOK THERE'S THE TALIBAN". I could here laughter as well. I walked over to the group of boys and went straight up to the boy and asked him what he had said. As usual to my face no-one would say anything. Walking home from school, I would experience young immature boys shouting 'Bin Laden' or 'Taliban' at me. It was so frustrating, answering them back, going up to them and asking them if they wanted a fight with me and if not then not to say anything.

I find that nearly everyday now that someone is staring at me in a weird manner, or says something like TALIBAN, TURBANATOR, DALER MEHNDI, PAGH MAN, or BIN LADEN, or laughs or jeers when they walk pass me. It seems that Pakistanis or some English boys seem to be racist and cause trouble on purpose. I sometimes its annoying that I have to keep on going up to people and asking them to either shut up or say it to my face or if they wanted to fight me then they can. But then I think to myself oh well Rab Raka.

Going to sleep and waking up I ask Vaheguru Ji for strength and thank Him. Since I came back from India, I started to read or listen on a tape Japji Sahib regularly in the morning, Rehraas Sahib in the evening, and Sohila Sahib at night. Walking to school I recited Mool Mantar and try to do Simran, so that I feel positive and enjoy my day.

I have learnt from all my experiences to respect everyone. To treat people, as you would like to be treated by others. "Naa Koyee Bairee, Naahee Begaana. Sagal Sang Ban Aayee… No one is my enemy, and no one is a stranger. I get along with everyone" (Ang 1299, SGGS). In India a Sikh I met said, "Sikhi and Gurbani teaches that if you give out in one hand, you will receive in the other. If you give out abuse, and hatred, you will receive it back. However it can also be the reverse. If you give out goodness, you will receive goodness." I remember what a Raagi Singh performing Kirtan said: "If Guru Nanak believed in Sarbat da Bhala (praying for good for all) then why don't we? Who are we not to? It does not hurt anyone to be nice. If a person does bad, lie, swear at people, laugh at them and be hurtful then person will never be at peace inside. He or she will always be reminded one time or another of their guilt of doing bad to others and themselves. The guilt will haunt you and keep revisiting you. This will cloud your soul and mind. However if you do good for peope, ask and pray for the good for all and mankind, if you work honestly; share with others; and pray & meditate on Gods name, you will not have anything to feel guilty of. You will sleep and live peacefully and will not lose anything but instead gain everything."

"Nanak Naam Chardikala, Tere Bhaane Sarbat Da Bhala… May the Name of the Lord preached by Nanak prevail, through Your Will may everybody be blessed."

Vaheguru Ji Ka Khalsa,
Vaheguru Ji Ki Fateh.

Manvir Singh Khalsa