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I Am Married To A Sardar:
Forty Years Ago, My Husband Announced He Was Converting To Sikhi






First of all, my husband is the writer in our family, not I. When we met T. Sher Singh while he was in Florida recently, he asked me to write about my experiences of being married to a Sardar. So, here I am …

You know my husband, Sardar Fatehpal Singh Tarney, as the regular columnist on these pages of who writes under the rubric, “Janam Da Firangee, Sikhi Mai Mangee.”

I am a Methodist, so religious diversity starts at home for us. I admit that I was initially taken aback by my husband's decision to become a Sikh some 40 years ago ... Long after we had already been married.

I understood fully that Christianity did not work for him. I was also, at first, uncomfortable when he told me that he would no longer cut his hair or trim his beard.

But, this was important to him – end of story! The rest is history.

My husband is actively involved in interfaith programs, both here in Florida and when we are in Michigan at our summer home. He has told me that one common but frustrating thing that happens is that many people look at him and say, “You don't look like you're from the subcontinent!”

The last time this happened was the worst after he told a lady that he was not from Punjab, but was an Italian-American. The lady said, “You don't look Italian either!”

If and when he regains his composure in these incidents, he has the opportunity to remind people that Sikhism is not a race, ethnic group, or nationality.

I recall once when I described one devout Sikh friend of ours as being “clean-shaven,” my husband corrected me, saying “He was not clean-shaven, but beard- deficient!”

We agreed many years ago that we should worship together at the Gurdwara, where I must say have always felt at home. My husband now claims that I have more Sikh friends than he has. Now that I think of it, he is probably correct.

Thanks to my Sikh lady friends, I wear salwar kameez to both religious and social events. It is not that my husband is not a nice person, but many Sikhs are comfortable around me because I guess I am motherly and neutral in terms of Sikh politics and personality issues. Some young Sikh lads whose families are still back in Punjab think of me as a surrogate mother and confide in me in ways they would never do with my husband.

Even my best friend today is a Sikh lady – a retired physician.

All in all, I must say that worshiping together … at the Gurdwara! … has solidified our marriage.

May 10, 2018


Conversation about this article

1: Harnam Singh (Birmingham, United Kingdom), May 10, 2018, 4:07 PM.

Polly ji, enjoyed reading your article. Shows how Faith can keep us (or bring us) together if all minds concerned are open and healthy. Would love to read more about your experiences together ... after all, 40 years must mean a mine-load of interesting stories!

2: Taran Kaur (Oakvile, Ontario, Canada), May 10, 2018, 4:12 PM.

Have long been following your husband's adventures with immense pleasure. And now, here you are ... better late than never. Frankly, would be keen to see you write your own regular column, parallel to your husband's, but purely from your perspective: a Methodist married to a Sikh for much of your lives together. I am sure it had its challenges - and many a hilarious moment. They deserve to be shared!

3: Jit Singh (Delhi, india), May 10, 2018, 6:31 PM.

Very well written, Polly ji. May Waheguru bless you both always.

4: Ravinder Singh Khalsa (USA), May 12, 2018, 2:47 PM.

Love this article. I can feel the love come through. Many blessings and so much love to you two!

5: Arjan Singh (USA), May 13, 2018, 8:08 AM.

Polly ji: Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I have met plenty of men and women from a Christian background who have impressed me with their hospitality and cultural tolerance.

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Forty Years Ago, My Husband Announced He Was Converting To Sikhi"

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