Huffington Post Religion's Person of The YearHUFFINGTON POST
Huffington Post Religion is proud to announce that our 2012 Person Of The Year is Balpreet Kaur.
In past years we have made lists of 'most influential' religious leaders which have included the Pope and the Dalai Lama. However, when the HuffPost religion editors thought about the person we admired most in the last year, the unanimous choice was Ms. Kaur.
Ms. Kaur became an internet sensation when a photo of her standing in a line was taken by an editor at Reddit (a 'Redditor) who posted online under the subject heading 'funny,' apparently based on her unique appearance.
Balpreet Kaur responded to the intentional denigration by explaining who she was, why she looked the way she does, and the tenets of her Sikh faith with a remarkable generosity of spirit:
"Yes, I’m a baptized Sikh woman with facial hair. Yes, I realize that my gender is often confused and I look different than most women. However, baptized Sikhs believe in the sacredness of this body - it is a gift that has been given to us by the Divine Being [which is genderless, actually] and, must keep it intact as a submission to the divine will ... When I die, no one is going to remember what I looked like, heck, my kids will forget my voice, and slowly, all physical memory will fade away," Kaur wrote. "However, my impact and legacy will remain: and, by not focusing on the physical beauty, I have time to cultivate those inner virtues and hopefully, focus my life on creating change and progress for this world in any way I can."
Balpreet's ability to express herself and to disarm ignorance with wisdom led to a sincere apology by the original editor who expressed his true change of heart:
"I know that this post ISN'T a funny post but I felt the need to apologize to the Sikhs, Balpreet, and anyone else I offended when I posted that picture. Put simply it was stupid. Making fun of people is funny to some but incredibly degrading to the people you're making fun of. It was an incredibly rude, judgmental, and ignorant thing to post ... I've read more about the Sikh faith and it was actually really interesting. It makes a whole lot of sense to work on having a legacy and not worrying about what you look like. I made that post for stupid internet points and I was ignorant."
Balpreet Kaur enriched all of us on the internet with knowledge of her own faith and showed that grace, kindness and goodness are the best antidote to ignorance online as well as offline.
For this HuffPost Religion is proud to honor her as our Person of The Year.
December 28, 2012
Conversation about this article
1: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), December 28, 2012, 11:38 AM.
I get goosebumps when I encounter Sikhi in any form displayed like this! Balpreet's faith and demeanour are Sikhism at it's awesome best.
2: Dupinder Sidhu (Jersey City, New Jersey, USA), December 28, 2012, 11:58 AM.
3: Jagdeep SIngh (Punjab), December 29, 2012, 12:29 AM.
This Kaur has done something unmatchable and unbeatable ... I salute you.
4: Harpreet Singh (Delhi, India), December 29, 2012, 1:25 PM.
Very good. Congratulations. Keep it up. Actually, after knowing the impact of Balpreet Kaur's reply on the world, many of my worries about the future of our commmunity have ended (although I myself fail to implement gurbani's teachings in my life). I recently read a book of poems by Jogi Allah Yaar Khan about the sacrifices of the four sons of Guru Gobind Singh Ji in which the learned author has mentioned about the brave answers, speeches given by the two younger sons before the rulers, listening to which the whole assembly fell silent, trembling with fear. We can and must learn more from such great Sikhs. Balpreet's views, thinking, actions are really commendable; otherwise women and even men of her age are spending hours/thousands in "beauty" parlours. I feel proud of such gursikhs.
5: Kavi Raj Singh (Chino Hills, California, USA), December 31, 2012, 2:45 AM.
Congratulations, Balpreet, for standing strong and so beautifully and gracefully handling the entire situation. Kudos to the gentleman who realized his mistake and had the decency to apologize.
6: Sarjit Kaur (Bethel Park, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.), January 01, 2013, 2:07 PM.
Pretty girl with a bright future, and blessed, as her heart walks with the Guru feet!