Kids Corner


Bundle of Joy

GURMUKH SINGH [United Kingdom]




In his congratulatory e-mail on the birth of our grand-daughter on Sunday, July 7, the celebrated writer Dr I J Singh of New York wrote: “Congratulations! Do keep in mind that little girls have their fathers (and grandfathers) wrapped around their little finger from day one,  and that's as it should be.”

My youngest  brother, Dya Singh of Australia, wrote: "A baby is a 'bundle of joy' - may she bring plenty of joy to your household. I have always been biased in favour of daughters anyway ..."

I am not "biased" in any way, but cannot resist saying that daughters do have an edge over sons when it comes to affection for parents. We have two sons, both gave us much happiness as they grew up; but my wife has always complained, "If only we also had a daughter, she would have been such great company and help ..."  

My two bhain ji's (our late elder sister) daughters remain close and ever affectionate, even though living away in the US and Canada.

As soon as the global family’s networks started buzzing on the arrival of the little new family member, grand parents on both sides (daadkay and naankay) agreed that the morning's sangat vaak that day from Guru Granth Sahib should be the inspiration for naming the baby also.

The verse started with the words "sukh nidhaan ..." 

Therefore, the letter “S” -- ‘sassaa’ in Punjabi -- will be used to select the baby’s first name.

My interpretation of the two opening words of the verse -- sukh nidhaan -- is "treasure of happiness and contentment", because "sukh" is a peculiarly Punjabi word and I equate it with a state of contentment, bliss and harmony.

The new arrival, our little grand-daughter, is a reflection of sukh nidhaan and has brought great joy to our family spread out across the diaspora. 

The last time I wrote about girls some years ago was about an unhappy issue:  "Female foeticide: The real issue," and also commented on an article in The Economic Times of India titled "Girls Lesser Children of God", by Arun Maira. 

Around the same time, a concerned young Sikh from Birmingham, United Kingdom, invited me to review a short film about the birth of girls in Indian families to give a Sikh perspective.

I recall that the film was well directed and brought home the truth about prejudice against daughters in Indian society, much against the Guru’s teachings and the mores in all civilised societies, not just Sikhi.

Two of my related articles are about the status of women in Sikhism and the active role of women in the Sikh tradition.

As Prof Prabhjot Kaur wrote in a well researched article on the same subject, “It has been said that the status accorded to women is the touchstone of the civilization of society.”

It is not my intention to go into the oft repeated and well rehearsed arguments trying to hail the already well-documented role of honour to women in Sikhism.

The holistic view of gurbani gives a clear head-start to women, who have the natural (psychophysiological) attributes for achieving the full purpose of this life.  Men have to make that much extra effort to develop those qualities.

Our Scripture describes the human soul as the “naar” (female) seeking union with the Creator Lord to attain the status of “sohagan” (the happy bride). The lonely soul in every human being – regardless of gender – is longing to become “sohagan” through union with the “kanth” - the Husband, Creator Being. 

The sohagan remains in a state of harmonious bliss and equipoise (sehaj anand). The sohagan is the “first” in the human family as “sabh parvaaray mahe shrest ...”, with “batti sulakhni” (32 qualities).

These are, according to Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha’s “Mahan Kosh” - beauty, cleanliness, modesty, humility, concord, observance of religion, intelligence, knowledge, service, compassion, truth, dedicated love of spouse, purity of mind, patience, frugality, beneficence, sobriety, chivalry, active life, tending to the house, respect of elders, proficiency in music, poetry, painting, domestic science and embroidery, respectful attention to guests, and bringing up children.

The Groom’s attention (nadar) can only be sought by cultivating these qualities.

A daughter brings deep spiritual joy to a gursikh family. By contrast, boisterous and noisy celebrations announce the arrival of sons in traditional Indian families. Frankly, I find the loud wasteful parties quite boring and keep away from them. 

When patakas (fireworks) explode up to early morning in an Indian neighbourhood, we know that “It is a boy!” We are also reminded that such practices amongst those who linger in them, are uncivilized! 

As a girl-child grows, through her many roles, especially as daughter and sister to her brothers, later as wife and mother, “she is able to change the destiny of a family.” 

Women, as mothers, can change the destinies of communities and nations.

To quote from an earlier article, “A woman must have own personality and must be bold and chivalrous when required. Otherwise, the situation described in gurbani would arise when ‘Women have become submissive, while men have become tyrants’ [GGS:142]. Sikh women like Mata Sundari (wife of the Tenth Master) who took a keen interest in Sikh polity after the Guru’s death, and Mata Bhago who led Sikh warriors in battle, have shown that women should be bold and take action whenever the situation arises.” 

It was the brave Queen Jindaa(n) who actually flung a woman’s garment at the bickering Sikh generals who came to see her during the First Anglo-Sikh War, as a symbolic taunt, urging them to fight to win!

The arrival of a baby girl in a Sikh family, therefore, is nothing but a great blessing. The Guru smiles on the family. 

That is how we feel as grand-parents. As we hold the little bundle of joy in our hands, we do feel that the Guru is smiling on the family.

July 23, 2013

Conversation about this article

1: Dya Singh (Melbourne, Australia), July 23, 2013, 3:44 PM.

Never seen my older Bhai ji with a relaxed smile in a photograph before! Warm congratulations to nephew Inderbir and our niece-in-law Sukhmani for this 'bundle of joy'. Yes, I have three daughters and would not have it any other way! My wife and I brought them up to be able to fend for themselves and as equal to any man.

2: Sangat Singh  (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia ), July 23, 2013, 3:50 PM.

"Baal kannyaa kou baap pi-aa / bhaa-ee kou at bhaa-ee" [GGS:596.2] - There is a special bond between father and daughter and more so when a granddaughter arrives. Gurmukh Singh ji, you are ruined. Here is something I had saved for such an occasion. On the first day of their marriage, a wife and husband decided and agreed not to open the door for anyone! On that day first, the husband's parents came to see them, they were behind the door. The husband and wife looked at each other, husband wanted to open the door, but since they had an agreement, he did not open the door; so his parents left. After a while the same day, the wife's parents came. The wife and the husband looked at each other and even though they had an agreement, the wife with tears in her eyes whispered, "I can't do this to my parents," and she opened the door. The husband did not say anything. Years passed and they had four boys and the fifth child was a girl. The father planned a very big party for the new born baby girl and he invited everyone over. Later that night his wife asked him what was the reason for such a big celebration for this baby, while there were none for the others! The husband simply replied, "Because she'll be the only one who will open the door for me!"

3: Manjeet Shergill (Singapore), July 23, 2013, 5:43 PM.

I have four boys and am totally in love with my husband but not blessed with a baby girl. My husband insists that our granddaughter will be the one to open the door for us. Would name my baby girl - Sukhi.

4: Jamel Kaur (Melbourne, Australia), July 23, 2013, 7:00 PM.

Taaya ji, the daughters of your youngest brother, Dya Singh, have always yearned and craved your affection and love. We have been brought up as strong, bold and chivalrous women. But also compassionate and patient. On behalf of my sisters, I can truly say, "we will always open the door for you". We love you and Taayi ji with all our hearts. May the new addition to our family show you the affection and love we were never given the opportunity to show you. Hopefully one day the little bundle of joy, the newest addition to our family, will be able to grace her Bhuaji's with her presence.

5: Gurmukh Singh (London, United Kingdom), July 24, 2013, 7:18 AM.

True, Sangat Singh ji! Indeed, daughters never close the door to their parents. Our elderly mother is an outstanding role model, having looked after Nana ji in old age. His village folks believed that he was over 110 years old when he passed away in January 1996. I was also reminded in another e-mail that sons belong to their mothers before marriage and to their wives after marriage! So be it. As for parental love, like our Bapu ji, we too believe that growing children become "friends" after about the age of 16 plus. They are free to make own choices. However, it is only love with a sense of responsibility, with due regard for family heritage and values, that keeps traditional families together. One reason why families are breaking up today is when both ingredients are not there.

6: Rup Singh  (Canada), July 24, 2013, 1:05 PM.

Children are a blessing for sure; life is a miracle. A girl or a boy, the Guru's blessing is the same, whatever reasons have created the differences among the genders. It's a bit ironic that the fathers and grandfathers are sure the daughters will always open the door for them. Why think the boy will not 'open the door' for his parents, or believe every girl will?

7: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), July 24, 2013, 6:40 PM.

In my own household we put the female first! She's Numero Uno! Why? Well, it's to do with Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh and being the Guru's Sikh and Khalsa.

8: Sangat Singh  (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia ), July 25, 2013, 2:49 AM.

Guru Hargobind's first born was a son, Baba Gurditta. Mata Ganga - Guru Hargobind's mother - as all mothers do, exuded her joy with an aasees (blessing) and patted her son Gur Hargobind: "Jori ralay" - May you have a second son. "Mata Ji," Guru Sahib replied, "if you wish to bless me, grant me a gift of a daughter!" Bibi Viro was born after five sons. She was deeply religious and, as well, a warrior like her brother Tyag Mall (later to become Guru Tegh Bahadar). She was married to Bhai Sadhu and became mother of five sons: Sago Shah, Jit Mall, Gulab Chand, Mahri Chand and Galiga Ram. All five took part in the Battle of Bhangani between Guru Gobind Singh and Raja Fateh Shah of Srinagar (Garhwal). Sango Shah and Jit Mall died in action. Such was the contribution of the daughter, Bibi Viro. There is a historical gurdwara named after her. Talking of daughters, where would one find the likes of Bibi Bhani, who was the daughter of Guru Amar Das, wife of Guru Ramdas, mother of Guru Arjan, grandmother of Guru Hargobind and sister of Guru Tegh Bahadar?

9: Harinder Pal Singh (Patiala, Punjab), July 25, 2013, 5:25 AM.

I think children are a bundle of joy, boy or a girl, so long as they don't give pain in the wrong end. But I share the sentiment that girls do get that extra bit more of heart. My father had three girls and a boy as grandchildren. Though he doted on the grandson, I suspect the girls got more attention. Yje status of women is a matter of serious opinions. But on a lighter note, I would share a couple of actual experiences. A doctorate in Astrophysics was undergoing a Caesarian section when she heard the baby cry. Squeezing my hand, she asked: Doc, is it a bill or a cheque? I would leave the readers to guess what community she belonged too! Second, it was a family friend of ours who had three good-for-nothing strapping sons. She came to my father complaining: "Bhaa ji, tin mushtande ne. Ik kurri hi ho jaandi. Kite changi thaa(n) viah dendi. Eh kanjar te saari umar gal paaye rehange - I have got three vagabonds. Wish we had a girl who I could marry off to a good home one day. But these three I'm stuck with for life!"

10: Amrik Singh Ahdan (Heston, United Kingdom), July 25, 2013, 6:16 AM.

Many congratulations! Sincerely hope that you enjoy playful time, full of love and affection, with her as I am fortunate enough to be with my little granddaughter (Shree) who is almost five now.

11: Jatinder Singh Sethi (Gurgaon, India), April 20, 2017, 6:09 AM.

When a boy is born, Indian parents distribute ladoos. When a girl is born in India, burfi is distributed. Why the difference? It is only now that Indians have come to realize that daughters are more dependable than boys. It's not that sons are not dear to parents, but they get more involved with their own families like, I believe, most of us did. Children - boys and girls - both are equally God's gifts. Let's enjoy all of them.

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