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Has the Anand Karaj Lost its Significance to the Afterparty?

Hey readers…I accidentally deleted the post on Sikh weddings and we are in the process of trying to retrieve it. I may attempt a reconstruction if we cannot, but in the meanwhile – We’d still like to hear your thoughts on the question posed in the title.Anand_Karaj.jpg The question is prompted by this article in the NYTimes about the trent of having ridiculously expensive weddings going on in Afghanistan currently. Reading the article made me think about our own wedding traditions and how much of the Sikh wedding has lost its meaning (particularly the anand karaj itself) and the focus has really shifted to the afterparty and in the case of Sikh weddings in Punjab the “before-during-after party” where many guests bypass the anand karaj altogether and head straight for the wedding palace.Recently the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee even mandated simple Sikh weddings (without extravagant parties that include alcohol) for the Sikhs to whom it was to issue marriage licenses.So, what do you think – has the anand karaj lost its significance to the afterparty?

P.S. some of the comments also were deleted with the post so if you commented, I apologize for losing your thoughts.

A list of do’s and don’ts?

Initially I was going to post about self-loathing and its role in gurbani….so I went to trusty old I accidentally hit “search” without typing anything in the search box. Up came this list of “Sikhi favorites” on the left pane. At first I started clicking on what peaked my interest. Here’s just a few of them:

  • See truth with your eyes
  • Serve and respect your parents
  • Forever remember death
  • Believe in one God
  • Gurbani is the Guru
  • Eat, Sleep and Talk little
  • Accept Nam as true religion

Then it got into the “Do Not’s”

  • Do not be greedy
  • Do not be proud
  • Do not be jealous
  • Do not get attached to the world
  • Do not associate with manmukhs
  • Do not steal or gamble
  • Do not see bad in others
  • Do not slander anyone

I’m not even going to pretend that I know gurbani, or that I can translate it, or that I can remember shabads or anything of that nature. But I am fairly confident that SGGS is not a list of “Do Not’s”. Now, being someone that considers myself a sikh (whatever that means…) I tend to discuss the openness and the LOVE and I repeat LOVE that Sikhi focuses on. In my limited research into gurbani and the meaning of it, I have rarely seen such blatant instruction as to what we should or should not do. I understand that this may be a result of the translation over to English. But it still doesn’t sit right with me. Descriptions/translations I have seen of “vices” or “bad things” have always discussed the action and then the consequence, or the individuals that have these characteristics.

I know Sikhi is often presented as a list of Do’s and Dont’s; that’s how it was presented to me anyways. How can that possibly be encouraging? Someone that is questioning their Sikhi – how would they see this list? Would it perhaps just further deter them from experience the immense resource that the SGGS is? Is this a correct reflection of Gurbani?

Domestic Violence In Elderly Couples

A couple of months ago, maybe it was many weeks, I saw on the TV show, “Cops” with utter disgust a Bapuji and Biji, being a form of “entertainment” for a domestic violence assault. Along with my disgust, anger, and sorrow I had a well yea it happens you think its that shocking attitude. I wasnt shaken or shocked by the show because I knew this story was a reflection of what happens in many Punjabi Sikh homes in America. The only shock I had was that it was an elderly couple whose situation I was seeing aired on television. As the Bibiji cried and the camera focused on the knife and their small-living quarters (I think it was a labor camp in the Central Valley in California), while Bapuji was drunk, his hair and/or parnaa (i.e. casual turban) all ruffled, and handcuffed, I thought this never ends its not just an issue affecting young or mid-age couples, but also older ones too you never just grow-out of it and become sayanna (i.e. wise). I also thought about them living at what looked like a labor camp and how hard they must work, probably after many years in Punjab, to better their economic lives for themselves and/or their children. Then I thought Bapuji will come back home and probably do the samehand.jpg thing again what if Bibiji needs to leave him, permanently or just for a while, but has no family in the United States are close to the Central Valley where she may be working where will she go? Plus, just the utter embarrassment she may feel because in their budhaphaa (i.e. older age) they are still facing this issue and she has to ask for help.

Im wondering what anti-domestic violence advocacy campaigns and shelters are doing to address the issues faced by elderly women. The advocacy and services they offer save lives and offer hope to help women escape a cycle of violence. It think they tend to be geared more towards meeting the needs of younger women and their children. They may not explicitly state that or have policies restricting elderly women from receiving their much-needed services, but I have a feeling younger women frequent them more often not because more younger women may face the issue of domestic violence or live in the Diaspora. I think its because elderly women may just be more hesitant to reach out for their services at their age. I wonder what services these womens organizations have to meet the needs of elderly South Asian, specifically Punjabi Sikh, women who are primarily of immigrant background? The circumstances of elderly Punjabi Sikh women are similar but also very different compared to those who are younger. Factors leading to these differences range from length of marriage to having grandchildren as well as son and daughter-in-laws. The reasons and circumstances for immigration may be different as well. Some elderly couples immigrate, at times, to help build an economic base and U.S. residency status to resettle their single and married children back in Punjab. Others immigrate after being sponsored by their U.S.-based children and work to add to the family-income.

Any ideas about domestic abuse in South Asian elderly couples, specifically those of Punjabi Sikh background? How about available resources?

A model Asian neighbor

Does this sound familiar? It sounds like it could be many areas in India, including Punjab…


The preference for boys here is centuries old and was rooted in part in an agrarian society that relied on sons to do the hard work on family farms…[A son’s]… elevated status came with certain perquisites men received their families inheritance but also responsibilities. Once the eldest son married, he and his wife went to live with his family; he was expected to support his parents financially while his wife was expected to care for them in their old age.

This sounds familiar too:

In the old days, when there was no adequate social safety net, parents regarded having a son as kind of making an investment for old age security, … It was common for married men to feel ashamed if they had no sons. Some went so far as to divorce wives who did not bear boys.

This NY Times article isn’t talking about India, …. it’s talking about South Korea, where an interesting reversal is taking place.

In South Korea, once one of Asias most rigidly patriarchal societies, a centuries-old preference for baby boys is fast receding. And that has led to what seems to be a decrease in the number of abortions performed after ultrasounds that reveal the sex of a fetus.

Hmm… a reversal of son preference? How did that come about?

The most important factor in changing attitudes toward girls was the radical shift in the countrys economy that opened the doors to women in the work force as never before and dismantled long-held traditions, which so devalued daughters that mothers would often apologize for giving birth to a girl.


Punjabi Sikhs: Divided, United, and Brown?

As I have been thinking about the Sikh communitys mobilization against post-9/11 U.S. racial profiling policies, such as the TSA security guidelines, I have once again been reminded of the identity politics within our Sikh community. To be honest, I really have been thinking about the divisions in our community and how they are reflected in our social activism.

I feel as though the discourse on Sikhs being the targets of racial profiling has really been about keshdari Sikhs. I must preface this argument with the statement that I understand the issues that khesdari Sikh men face every day are quite different than those of clean-shaven Sikhs. The experience of physically looking quite different than the majority of the clean-shaven population, regardless if its brown, white, yellow, or pink, that surrounds you does not make it easy to blend in. I sympathize and, more importantly, respect and admire your actions to keep your khes (i.e. hair) as a symbol of your Sikh identity. Furthermore, I undoubtedly agree that keshdari Sikhs have been the targets of racial profiling and victims of hate crimes following the events of 9/11 because they look like Osama Bin Landen and all the other bad guys in Afghanistan. However, I think about our clean-shaven Punjabi Sikh brothers who could easily pass for looking like the ACTUAL suicide bombers who hit the Twin Towers I dont really remember any of them wearing turbans nor having lengthy beards.

I have heard of a few cases of clean-shaven Punjabi Sikh men being racially profiled and harassed as our Arab and Muslim brothers I would not doubt it happening to Latino men too. I remember one clean-shaven Punjabi Sikh gentlemen sharing his experience with racial profiling immediately following the 9/11 attacks in the film, Divided We Fall: Americans In The Aftermath. These stories made me wonder if Sikh organizations, such as the Sikh Coalition and SALDEF, have made a concerted effort to reach out to clean-shaven Punjabi Sikh men to document and represent their experiences in petitions and memos sent to policy makers and politicians about Sikh racial profiling. Or are these men not Sikh enough to be part of the discussion? Some could argue that it is the external representation of Sikh identity that is being targeted for racial profiling, such as the turban and beard; clean-shaven Sikh men dont display either of those markers. However, I would argue, arent the majority of khesdari Sikh men being targeted because they are also brown? They are the ones I have commonly seen being represented in films, commercials, and literature on the fight against Sikh racial profiling. Hence, isnt there a shared history of discrimination and profiling based on dark features along with a common religious belief system, regardless of the varied decisions made by Punjabi Sikh men on keeping their hair?


Re: Relationships – What Guru Sahib Thinks

Many of our recent posts have involved discussion about relationships and gender differentiations in our community. So on Thursday, when I drafted this post, I decided to read the hukamnama from Darbar Sahib Amritsar and see what Guru Granth Sahib Ji had to say that day.

For those of you who are novice to hukamnamas a hukamnama is a royal edict or decree. In the Sikh context, the hukamnama serves as a command from the Guru, a lesson in the Sikh perspective, and is something to reflect upon for (at least) the day. The hukamnama for that day was as follows:

Sorat(h) Mehalaa 5 Ghar 2 Dhupadhae

Ik oa(n)kaar Sathigur Prasaadh ||
Sagal banasapath mehi baisa(n)thar sagal dhoodhh mehi gheeaa ||
Ooch neech mehi joth samaanee ghatt ghatt maadhho jeeaa ||1||
Sa(n)thahu ghatt ghatt rehiaa samaahiou ||
Pooran poor rehiou sarab mehi jal thhal rameeaa aahiou ||1|| rehaao ||
Gun nidhhaan naanak jas gaavai sathigur bharam chukaaeiou ||
Sarab nivaasee sadhaa alaepaa sabh mehi rehiaa samaaeiou ||2||1||29||

Sorat’h, Fifth Mehla, Second House, Du-Paday:

One Universal Creator God. By The Grace Of The True Guru:
Fire is contained in all firewood, and butter is contained in all milk.
God’s Light is contained in the high and the low; the Lord is in the hearts of all beings. ||1||
O Saints, He is pervading and permeating each and every heart.
The Perfect Lord is completely permeating everyone, everywhere; He is diffused in the water and the land. ||1||Pause||
Nanak sings the Praises of the Lord, the treasure of excellence; the True Guru has dispelled his doubt.
The Lord is pervading everywhere, permeating all, and yet, He is unattached from all. ||2||1||29||

Initially, I read the hukamnama for its obvious meaning: the light of the Almighty is in every person. But as I tried to make sense of the hukamnama in relation to the ongoing discussion about relationships, it dawned on me that perhaps the Gurus message is deeper than just acknowledging the inherent God-light in our fellows. Ultimately, if we see the spark of God in every person with whom we interact, we would treat that individual differently.

I realize presenting this hukamnama is no solution to the problem of gender inequality/differentiation/bias, but I think that a lot of the time we lose sight of the point that our Guru demands that we treat others in a certain manner.

If we were given the change to meet and interact with Akal Purakh on a regular basis how would we behave? Would we deceive, abuse, or abandon Him? As a Sikh then, how must we treat each other (especially our companions) in light of the above hukamnama?

1 + _ = ?

I recently had a conversation with a friend whose relationship with his fiance is in a bit of turmoil

Lets call him Jasdeep and his fiance- Palwinder. Theyve been dating for a few years, told both parents who gave their consent/supported the relationship and a formal engagement date was set.

Theyve already been through some minor trials and tribulations thus far (long-distance + demanding jobs) but made it through ok. The formal engagement was set to take place late next year but recently I started hearing that the engagement would be delayed, not because of any familial or community pressures, but by a decision made by the couple themselves From what Ive seen in the past, a delay means an inevitable cancellation at some point in the future.

From what I know, they both felt that something was amiss in their relationship, a disconnect, though I dont know what the source of it was. But their reactions to this disconnect are what have left me searching for an answer.

Palwinder is willing to do whatever is necessary to save the relationship. Shes willing to change, to continue long-distance if circumstances demand. Jasdeep, on the other hand, is willing to try only if circumstances make it easy, and hasnt mentioned any need to change himself in any way.

Now, Jasdeep is normally not an alpha male, demanding his way in every small matter, he is willing to compromise in most circumstances… which is why this catches me off guard.

It could be the case that Palwinder is going through something (whether short term or long term) thats harmful to her and the relationship, and it would in fact be healthy for both her and the relationship if she worked through it. Maybe she recognizes that and thats why shes willing to do so much.

But this reminds me of a pattern Ive seen often, even if it turns out that this case isnt an instance of it

Amongst various sets of parents, cousins, uncles & aunts, friends- when something is amiss and in need of change, in overwhelming instances, its the woman who is more than willing to do whatevers necessary to compromise to try to save the relationship. Maybe this partly stems from the traditional assumption that weve grown up with, where the failure of the relationship is considered to be a failure of the woman (I recognize that such an assumption would be false in many ways, but its still out there)

My question is: Why do women work so hard to compromise when the other half of the equation doesnt want to budge?

And how, if at all, is this subtle imbalance in relationships linked to the harsher violence against women in Punjabi (maybe all South Asian) communities?

All you need is love?

I always get asked about how my spouse and I met; those that are aware of Desis and the arranged marriage are always curious as to whether my marriage was in fact arranged. My first thought how do you define arranged? We were introduced, by mutual acquaintances. The introduction was under the pretenses of marriage. So essentially our first conversation was: I want x number of children, and I am x feet tall, and I have the following expectations of a spouse. IM KIDDING!

I digress

Our parents were involved, they spoke before we spoke, but that was the end of their role. Our conversations, and relationship progressed in an organic, albeit SUPER SPEED way. My response to the question is always vague, full of ums and quite honestly, it changes every time I am asked the question.

So this past weekend, when a coworker asked me if my marriage was arranged, I gave my usual: Not really. Um, we were introduced. Our parents were involved. But the decision was ours. etc etc

Usually I get a smile, and a oh thats cool. This time: Im actually pro-arranged marriage.


You, the very liberal, forward thinking, all things unconventional co-worker are PRO the arrangement of marriage?!

Disbelief, relief, confusion. A few things I felt.

Our discussion became increasingly interesting at this junction. Lets call my co-worker Yogi as in one who practices/teaches Yoga, not the bear.

Yogi, having traveled to exotic India, being aware of different cultures (yet extremely American) and has been in a committed relationship for the last 15 years, claimed that love has very little to do with a successful marriage.


According to Yogi (and maybe even BooBoo), it doesnt matter who one marries, as long as both parties want to be part of an open, communicative and authentic relationship, a marriage will work. Love is a romanticized notion that sets up false expectations.

Um why does Yogi all of a sudden sound like my dad?

We got into a fairly lengthy and personal conversation and it still has me thinking. What is making my marriage work? What will guarantee it will continue to work?

Obviously there are examples of toxic relationships in both the arranged and love world. But what is the common denominator?

Does this imply that you dont in fact need time to get to know the person before marrying them? Where do values, habits, likes and dislikes come to play? Is it an over-generalization? Easier said than done?

Or does it hold some truth.

Ji Aiyan Nu (Welcome)

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa
Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh

Welcome to The Langar Hall. This is a space dedicated to the experiences, reflections, and interests of a diverse group of young individuals tied together by our common and varied identities as Sikhs in the diaspora.

Like the many conversations that take place in langar halls around the globe, our blog posts will sweep across a gamut of topics from Gurbani and Seva to Bhangra and Politics. We challenge ourselves to address the myriad of issues we face as individuals and as a community through a progressive lens, and reserve the right to rant, muse, and humor.

Do you have questions or the feeling that some things just have not really been explained? Then join our conversations as we untangle complexities, explore grays, or just share things we find interesting and funny.

Let us conversate!

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