Kids Corner






I am a young working professional living in the capital city of India. Born and brought up in an average Sikh family, I am fully aware of our rich heritage and culture. This is partly owing to the fact that I have accompanied my mother to various ‘satsangs'.

I have waist-long hair but am not a perfect Sikh. I get my eyebrows trimmed, get waxed and the whole deal.

I have also questioned myself many times, asked myself whether I should get my hair styled? Maybe it would make me appear more hip, more stylish? Yes, I have thought about it many times but I never did anything.

I never had the courage, if I may use the word. I think I could not bear to face myself if ever I did something like this. My parents have made it pretty clear that if I ever do this, I should think them as good as dead to me.

This became very apparent to me when as a kid I got my hair tangled with a calendar (yes, I was playing with it and somehow it got stuck within my hair) and when I was unable to get my hair free from it, I remember telling my mother very innocuously, to just cut my hair, and she gave me an expression of disbelief and anger.

Needless to say, I got an answer.

Is this a hard line to follow?

Parents have always stopped us from doing something stupid but made sure we knew the reasons, made sure that we knew our values, culture, our history and the sacrifices made by our Gurus.

Growing up in a metropolis, I was exposed to different things. Suffice to say that I have met various types of people within my community itself: 'cut-surds' (the name given to sardars who cut their hair); devout Sikhs and girls who had cut their hair.

As a youngster, one is faced with many situations when one is tempted to do something outrageous, just for the sake of it. Especially, in this day and age, when we see many of our youth doing away with ‘kesh', doing away with the traditions after branding them orthodox and dead, it's really no wonder that this is actually happening.

What is required is that there should be more awareness and campaigns to reconnect the Sikh youth with their roots.

I know that it makes me sound hypocritical; I get my eye-brows done, why do I question others who cut their hair? Maybe I do not have any right now but eventually, I want to take amrit and, when I feel the time is right, I'll do it. This is no excuse, still.

I am trying to find it within myself, the commitment to do this.

It is not about the 'hard-line' my parents have followed, and continue follow till today. It is not about not having courage. It is all about the simple fact that I am aware of our values and culture. I do not want to style my hair and become part of ‘that' population, where people come to know about my religion only by my name.

I do not know if it is me, but I do think we do not have any good role models, especially, good women role models, smart, famous and successful women who have retained their identity.

I am not an die-hard; I believe in the "to each his own" policy, but I also believe that we should not renounce our heritage, merely because we are too busy to speak about our culture; merely because the so called 'leaders' of our community today, the politicos, only care about money and not about the fact that the real needs of the community are dire and urgent; or simply because we do not care.

Are we going to sit in our comfortable homes, sipping our hot coffee and criticizing all and sundry as per our wishes.

As a young girl in a metropolis, seeing all this happening around me, I felt I should pen down my thoughts on it and maybe this would lead to some of us talking about it and trying to to find a solution to this.

How do we reconnect the Sikh youth today with their roots?


The author is based in New Delhi, India.

April 1, 2011



Conversation about this article

1: Brijinder SIngh (New York, U.S.A.), April 01, 2011, 10:12 AM.

Excellent article. I think the job of teaching Sikhi to the youth falls on the parents. Like the author has mentioned, many parents simply tell their children not to cut their hair but they don't explain why. This leads children to rebel against what they see as archaic rules enforced by parental figures. In some cases the parents don't even know why we keep our hair unshorn, outside of the obvious explanation: that Guru Gobind Singh told us to. The goal of a Sikh is to banish the illusion of maya and open your eyes to Hukam. Hair-styles are man-made fashion trends which have been changing over the centuries. What was trendy 100 years ago is now ridiculous. Men shave everyday, but the hair grows back. Maybe it is meant to be there? This is our human form. It is how God meant for us to be. As for role models of Kaurs, just look at our history. Read about Sada Kaur, Rani Jind Kaur, Mai Bhago, Bibi Khem Kaur, Bibi Sahib Kaur Phulkian and Bibi Rajinder Kaur. Some of the most beautiful Sardarniaa(n) I have seen wear dastaar. They carry themselves with an elegance and grace which is refreshing. Not all of our youth are cutting their hair. I know of many clean-shaven Sikhs that want to grow their hair back, but are worried about what people will think. I come from a clean-shaven family. I grew my hair out in college and taught myself how to wear dastaar. Like the author, I also wish to take amrit one day, but I also know that one can live with the discipline of an amritdhari without going through the formality of the amrit ceremony, until you're ready. My hesitation about taking amrit is the finality of it. Once I take it, I can't go back on my word. Will I be able to handle the temptations around me? Sikhi is a life journey, and maybe some day, when I'm ready, I will be able to take that final step.

2: Mohan Singh (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), April 01, 2011, 10:40 AM.

Good inspiration, great thoughts. Congratulations and good luck to you. Guru Arjan: "O my companion, I have prepared everything: make-up, garlands and betel-leaves. I have embellished myself with the sixteen decorations, and applied the mascara to my eyes. If my Husband Lord comes to my home, then I obtain everything. O Lord! Without my Husband, all these adornments are useless. ||3|| Very fortunate is she, within whose home the Husband Lord abides. She is totally adorned and decorated; she is a happy soul-bride. I sleep in peace, without anxiety; the hopes of my mind have been fulfilled. O Lord! When my Husband came into the home of my heart, I obtained everything. ||4||" [GGS:1361]). Guru Angad: "Those who are blessed with the glorious greatness of Your Name, their minds are imbued with Your Love. O Nanak! There is only one amrit (the Nectar of Naam); there is no other amrit. O Nanak! This amrit is within the mind, obtained by the Guru's Grace. They alone drink it in with love, those who are so destined by the Primal Lord. ||1||" [GGS:1238].

3: Amarjit Singh (Ghaziabad, India), April 02, 2011, 1:15 AM.

Pavneet Kaur ji rightly points out when she says, "I do not know if it is me, but I do think we do not have any good role models, especially, good women role models, smart, famous and successful women who have retained their identity." Now, the question arises, Why do many Sikh women shy away from maintaining their Sikh identity?

4: Guravtarji (Johnson City, TN, U.S.A.), April 02, 2011, 7:37 AM.

Pavneet Kaur jio: You don't have to search too much or any longer for a successful female role model living a perfect Sikh life. The person, I am talking about is holding theChair at Colby College and teaching Sikhi. She is Nikky Guninder Kaur Singh, and her information is as follows: I think she has also written a book for Sikh children to understand Sikhi and live by its ethics. She's a good guide and role model.

5: S.S.N. (Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A.), April 02, 2011, 9:01 PM.

Excellent article once again, my sister! I would love to see more comments.

6: Harpreet (Shillong/ Bareilly, India), April 06, 2011, 12:32 AM.

Why don't we try to become role models ourselves for the coming generations? Ours is not a very old religion and each one of us has the duty to become a role model. What I have come to comprehend from my experience is that at any time any Sikh boy or girl can wander away from the path of Sikhi if he/she does not get continuous motivation in the Sikh way of life. As J.K. Rowling says, there is a deadline after which you can't blame your parents. Similarly, we need to realize our responsibility, we need not wait for others to tell us; instead, we have to ourselves become a helping hand in the strengthening of Sikhism. For instance, there can be a Sikh boy/girl in my neighborhood who is confused about studies and/or career choices, so it is my duty to guide him/her. Some of us are lucky to have lived in larger, cosmopolitan cities with a sizeable Sikh population but for others who come from smaller centres, it is very challenging to stick to Sikh fundamentals. There is a good documentary on how advertising is shaping our thinking titled "Killing Us Softly". I saw Part III - it tells us how, by seeing models on TV, every girl wants to be like them. Even in real life, if we see these models without make up, we will know they are not real. ttp://

7: Pavneet (Delhi, India), April 07, 2011, 3:31 AM.

Harpreet ji: I agree with you here that maybe we need to become role models ourselves and it is definitely our job to guide a person if we see them straying from the path of Sikhi. The reason for writing such an article was that I wanted to open a discussion on the ways on how to reconnect the youth of today to Sikhi. At the end of the day, you or I can only do so much. We need to initiate massive awareness campaigns and conferences on our culture. Maybe SGPC can take this up, I do not know. Maybe we can form a group and do this? This needs to happen and we have to start with it, maybe from one city and then slowly take it all across the globe.

8: Harpreet (Bareilly - Shillong, India), April 12, 2011, 7:56 AM.

Link to watch the said movie/documentary online : "" - this will clarify how potent a role media is playing in influencing the self-image of gals in general and Sikh girls in particular.

9: harpreet (Bareilly /Shillong , India), April 19, 2011, 2:38 AM.

Every one readign the above article should also read this article to get a full perspective :

10: Surinder Singh Bedi (Chandigarh, Punjab), June 02, 2011, 6:14 AM.

Pavneet, you have done a good job by expressing your views. I personally feel that the worst position of Sikhi today is in Punjab itself. There are so many cases when amritdhari grand-parents come to gurdwaras with their grand-children who are without kesh. I talked to one of them while having langar. His two young boys ware without kesh. He argued that it was "majboori" because the children's class-mates made comments on their being Sikh. Now tell me, Pavneet, what do we do with parents like this?

11: Prakash Singh Bagga (India), June 25, 2011, 3:11 PM.

This problem is related to the facts that we are unable to give correct knowledge about the roots of Sikhi. I find our younger generation is not convinced about what we expect from them. Thus we need to introspect how to strike a balance in modern times so that our values can be maintained without affecting the requirements of the younger generation. We are required to be sensitive to the expectations of the younger generation; after all, change is a law of nature. We cannot avoid this.

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