By Asia Samachar Team | MALAYSIA |
Arvin Kaur just could not believe her ears when she heard the #godha (knee) story.
She did not attend the most recent Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia (SNSM) AGM, but the senior project manager in information technology (IT) with a Malaysian firm was aghast when she heard the godha comments with regards to women participation in the Amrit Sanchar jatha (group).
As someone who had been involved with the Sikh youth organisation for many years, it was painful for her to hear how women were the subject of ridicule, albeit by a small group.
When making a case why women should not join the Amrit Sanchar jatha, one senior member had suggested the knees of the five preparing the Khandey-da-Pahul (commonly referred to as Amrit) may brush against each other as they are seated closely in a circle around the batha (bowl) in which the amrit is prepared. The rubbing of a woman’s knee may arouse sexual feelings, it was suggested.
Khandey-da-Pahul is the Sikh initiation ceremony. A sweetened water is prepared by a team of five Sikhs, who are themselves initiated, while reading a number of prescribed Sikh verses. The process was introduced by the Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh, in 1699.
This is Arvin’s response, part of which was initially shared as a comment at the Asia Samachar Facebook page:
Shame on any person saying women shouldn’t be involved in the Panj Pyare. Even worse when they say their goddey (knees) may touch the female Panj Pyare member sitting together during Amrit Sanchar ceremony or after. Keep your sexual weaknesses and lack of self sexual control to yourself. SIT AT HOME. Lock yourself in a room. AND let women participate in all areas of SNSM Sikhi parchar (preaching).
Such decadent mentality will only serve to keep women lagging in every area of our lives, including Sikhi parchar. It is actually very sad to be treated as such and openly told to get out of the Amrit Sanchar just because we are humans with a female sex organ. Our lives are dearly affected by such male-driven agendas.
If someone is feeling uncomfortable with the goddey touching, he should excuse himself and leave the Amrit Sanchar ceremony. He should not ask the women to be excluded from the Panj Pyare.
In gurdwara functions or weddings, it is common gesture to say Gurfateh or Sat Sri Akaal and then hug the opposite sex. When such body hugs or side hugs are acceptable, why the concern with the goddey?
When Sikhs marry, as part of the Sikhia (counsel), male Sikhs are advised to treat women other than their wive as a mother, sister or daughter. Likewise, female Sikhs are advised to treat all other males other than their husband as a father, brother or son. This is a pretty standard lecture. Now, do we have an issue if our goddey (knee) touched our father, brother or son. Do we get sexually aroused? Also do we have an issue if our goddey touched our sister, mother or daughter? If yes, this is a serious matter to be discussed outside this article altogether.
For the next two years, SNSM manifesto should include getting 50% ratio of women participation in all activities, including the Panj Pyare. Then we can say that we, as Sikhs, are following Asa Ki Var’s So Kyo Manda Akieh, Jit Jammeh Raajan.
If SNSM starts emphasising on respect for females and hit the 50% ratio, our Sikh homes will flourish with respect for girls and women. Hope you read above with an open mind.
Two other Sikh women had also also come forward forcefully with their views on the issue.
Sunandha Kaur, another active long-term SNSM member, was in agreement with Arvin’s comments shared at the Asia Samachar Facebook.
She added: “If a so called Panj Pyara gets aroused even by the knee of a woman touching his, that clearly means how weak his mind is. He is in dire need of help. Means, he is not focusing on the Bani he is reading. A true Gursikh, a true Panj Pyara would never have such a problem because he would only see the woman next to him during Amrit Sanchar as his sister or mother figure. When a man says such things about women, this speaks a lot about his own character. He needs to work on himself, not others. Doesn’t deserve to be a Panj Pyara in this case.”
On her part, Kalminder Kaur hoped that gender equality will be taken seriously under Harjinder Singh’s jatherdarship. “Also, hoping for a balance of women representation and youth area reps in your exco,” she added.
SNSM elects Harjinder Singh as new jathedar (Asia Samachar, 19 Sept 2020)
Justice Ginsburg on all-women Panj Pyare (Asia Samachar, 19 Sept 2020)