| Opinion | Malaysia | 13 Aug 2017 | Asia Samachar |
My mother was a Chinese, with no specific faith attached to her as she grew up. She believed in the simple things in life. Do good onto others, never wish ill harm onto others and be contended with what life had to offer.
Madly in love, she married a dashing young engineer, who was to become my father in years to come. Because multiracial marriages was somewhat frowned upon in the good old days, by the older generation, they both signed the papers with a couple of witnesses and later had a nice small dinner gathering with close friends. No fancy ceremony, no traditional outlandish costumes and no lavishness. The old photographs suggest that it was a time of the birth of liberal and western thoughts, multiracial and inclusive.
She would later assimilate herself deeply into the Punjabi culture as her role as wife and mother grew. Sewa in the Gurudwara on a regular basis was her foray into the Sikh way of life. Inwardly, she had the basic qualities of a Sikh all nailed down. Kind, compassionate, steadfast, humane and humble. Happiness was a choice she chose, embodying chardee kala-ness until the last few months of her life.
So, her life turned out pretty well.
I’d say she was a testament towards the antithesis that mixed or multiracial marriages were impacting the dwindling number of Sikhs, as opined in another article. She was prove that that argument was clumsy.
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Sikhism was never about being an exclusive race. It was never about the numbers game. It was never for an exclusive race as well. It was always about spiritual growth for anybody who can relate to it, and live it. Anybody from any background and from any race (a concept so old and tired that it is almost an illusive idea altogether). It never mattered if the number of Sikhs grew or dwindled, hence we never cared about converting others nor cared any less about those leaving Sikhism.
Apostasy is a borrowed idea from our Muslim brothers and sisters. You don’t have to be married to a Sikh to be a Sikh, and you don’t have to be divorced to stop being a Sikh. It’s entirely personal and entirely up to you. So, to say that a Sikh marrying a non-Sikh will decrease the number of Sikhs, is hogwash.
Some quarters within our Sikh community have raised concerns about non-baptized Sikhs getting married within the walls of a Gurudwara, with the Anand Karaj ceremony. The concern is that the ceremony in itself is meaningless if both the bride and the groom don’t intend to live out the advise and sermons prescribed in the Anand Karaj.
Sikh tradition has always had a hard stance against meaningless customs practiced for the sake of practicing. And so, some do take offence of non-practicing Sikhs making a mockery of the Anand Karaj ceremony by abandoning everything that was extolled in the ceremony itself. The Anand Karaj being just a ceremony for the sake of satisfying the show and nothing more.
But you could also argue that Punjabis, who majority are exclusively Sikhs by name, don’t really live the proper life of a Sikh. Why aren’t eyebrows raised for these Punjabis? Aren’t they making a mockery of the ceremony in itself? The short beard is shaven for the dinner reception, the turban taken off. These are allowed because traditions demand so. Then why aren’t they allowed for non-practicing Sikhs?
I can’t answer these questions for you. There are no silver bullets. But the fact remains, it really shouldn’t matter. Because it has never been about the numbers game. There is no dwindling of any sorts.
And to say otherwise, would be to go against one fundamental core tenet of Sikhism. And tenet is for us to be inclusive, to remove all classes of society like race and caste, to treat each human equally, with love and compassion. Not a mere statistic.
* This is the opinion of the writer, organisation or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.
[ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs in Southeast Asia and surrounding countries. We have a Facebook page, do give it a LIKE. Follow us on Twitter. Visit our website: www.asiasamachar.com]
Mixed marriages: We can’t stop them anymore (Asia Samachar, 11 Aug 2017)
Sikhi doesn’t belong to Punjabis only (Asia Samachar, 10 Aug 2017)
Mixed marriage dilemma (Asia Samachar, 8 Aug 2017)
Gurdwaras must adopt changes, marriage counselling badly needed, Ipoh Sikh seminar told (Asia Samachar, 23 July 2017)
Mixed faith marriages should be banned in UK gurdwaras (Asia Samachar, 16 Sept 2016)
Mixed marriages in gurduaras (Asia Samachar, 31 Aug 2015)
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