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Dear Readers: As we near the end of the year 2016, we turn our minds to the pleasurable task of selecting, once again, THE CHIC SIKH OF THE YEAR. The choice, of course, is collectively yours. We therefore invite you to post your selection in the COMMENT section below. Looking at the stories we have covered on sikhchic.com this year, and the extraordinary persons and projects we have showcased in our various sections -- including CURRENT EVENTS, PEOPLE, SPORTS, HEROES, to name but a few -- there should be no dearth of possibilities. This year, too, so many women, men and children -- individually and collectively -- have made an outstanding mark on the local, as well as the world scene, by living up to the highest ideals of Sikhi in helping make the world a better place for all of humanity. We seek your help in choosing one who you think has best exemplified those ideals within her, his, or its field of endeavour, during the course of this year. - Any woman, man, child, group, institution or corporation may be named. - The nominee may be a Sikh or a non-Sikh. - She, he or it may be based in any part of the world, the achievements being cited can be in any field of endeavour, and the activity being highlighted could be tied to any geographical area. - The nominee could be named for one or more achievements, or a life-time of contribution, as long as the primary reason for naming her, him or the entity THE CHIC SIKH OF THE YEAR 2016 is significantly tied to the year 2016. Please provide, along with the name of your nominee, your reasons -- in brief form -- why you are nominating or voting for the person or entity you've named. Also, please do not fail to provide in the designated space your FULL name, as well as the name of your CITY and COUNTRY -- it helps readers to fully appreciate the context of your support. You may nominate more than one choice, but we request that you limit yourself to one nomination in each posting. That is, your multiple nominations should be through separate postings in order to facilitate the selection process. Please note: The merit of each nominee, not the number of votes in support, will help determine the final choice. Please also note that no one on the staff or any of the boards that shape and guide sikhchic.com is eligible to be selected the winner. The deadline for all nominations is strictly 9.00 pm (Toronto, Canada time), Monday, December 26, 2016. All nominations will be posted on sikhchic.com. The name of the Winner(s) - who will be selected by a panel of judges - will be announced on Sunday, January 1, 2017 on sikhchic.com and other media. The list of past winners includes: Marathoner Fauja Singh Human Rights Activist Gurbaksh Singh Canada’s Defence Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan Harvinder Singh Phoolka (Human Rights Advocate) Jarnail Singh ('The Lion of Delhi') Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Lt Brian Murphy SALDEF Saran Singh (Editor, The Sikh Review) The Sikh Coalition The Survivors of 1984 United Sikhs Designer/Actor/Fashion Icon Waris Singh Ahluwalia. In closing, a suggestion: you may wish to skim over the postings from this year on sikhchic.com in its various sections to remind yourself of the rich goings-on during 2016. We look forward to your participation in this year‘s selection. Editor November 16, 2016 http://sikhchic.com/article-detail.php?id=6618&cat=12
Toronto-based style consultant and eligible bachelor, Harjas Singh http://sikhchic.com/article-detail.php?cat=6&id=6432
Read Between The Lines AJITPAL SINGH As a Sikh today, one often encounters questions and doubts that dont seem to be addressed directly in Gurbani. The world is ever changing and brings along with it new issues and problems with every generation issues our forefathers could not even fathom, let alone pass along their wisdom to address. When we seek the solace of gurbani to face such issues, one may not always find the answers written in plain text to consume easily. One is left with two choices at such times. The easiest one is to approach 'godmen', mahants, babas and similar charlatans, for their narrow versions and interpretations of gurbani. The other requiring a little more effort, but far more fruitful is to gain a deeper understanding of the gurbani and its basic philosophy and try to seek the answers ourselves. It might be a tougher path to follow, but it is definitely worth it. And the lessons you will learn from it will stay with you forever. Similarly, one can build upon the basic concepts of Sikhi to gradually apply to ones daily life as a way to avoid the aforementioned issues in the first place. For instance, Sikhism prohibits the consumption of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs harmful to our bodies. But is this just the list we should stick to diligently, and no more? What about the greasy fast food pizzas, burgers, fries - we drool over and consume every chance we get? What about the sodas and coffees we are potentially addicted to? The desserts we wont give up, even though our medical conditions wont allow them? For me, personally, the message would be - anything that affects our health negatively in the extreme should be shunned outright and the lesser culprits eased out of our diets gradually (or consumed in moderation). We are asked to maintain our kes intact and take good care of them by grooming them properly. Kes are considered a gift from Waheguru and hence the need to be maintained. But what about the rest of the body is it not a gift too? A Sikh should also strive to keep his entire body clean and healthy, while keeping his mind pure. After all a healthy mind can reside only in a healthy body. Apart from a good diet, good exercise and an active life is also implied for Sikhs. And what about nutrition for the mind? We do have the Guru Granth Sahib to take care of all our spiritual needs. But do not let it stop you from reading and analyzing books, texts and scriptures from other religions and cultures to further broaden your horizons. You may feel the need to be multi-lingual to be able to achieve this, which would be an added bonus. You may feel the need to travel to other parts of the world for greater understanding and clarity, so be it. If you trace the history of Sikhism from Guru Nanak, all the way to Guru Gobind Singh, you will find that our Gurus were well read, well traveled and well informed members of their society. They analyzed multiple points of view and gave references from various texts in their gurbani. It is only by following their example that we can aspire to get any closer to their philosophy and teachings, and enhance our lives in myriad ways in the process. When it comes to charity, the concept of Dasvandh is familiar to all. It prescribes giving away 10% of your income to charity. But nothing stops us from giving more if we can one can raise the bar in accordance with ones capacity. At the same time, one should research about causes or charities close to ones heart to donate hard earned money, rather than blindly handing it over to any named charity that appears on the horizon. Furthermore, why limit dasvandh to just money why not to our time, our skills or our expertise? Time spent volunteering at an orphanage or a seniors home over a weekend, is arguably more effective than a few dollars you give away. If you hardly make rent and cannot put aside money for charity, you can still spend time teaching kids from underprivileged neighborhoods. Surely, such dasvandh is of equal value. When asked about the status and rights of homosexuals in Sikhism, we seem stumped! We struggle to find exact references to the subject or come up with muddled theories based on obtuse references in Sikh literature. Is it very difficult to understand the basic concept - that Sikhism affords equal rights to all - irrespective of their cast, creed, ethnicity, gender - and expand the definition to cover sexual orientation too? Why does it have to be explicitly mentioned in the Guru Granth Sahib or Rehatnamas for it to apply, cant we do some thinking for ourselves? I could go on and on about this, but I think you get the point. Anything and everything we need answers to, can be found in the Guru Granth Sahib. Even if not directly, perhaps a deeper understanding of the basic principles espoused within it, should steer us to the right path. Furthermore, the lives of our Gurus and their loyal gursikhs are a shining light and the epitome of what we should strive for. Given this broad framework, I would be very surprised if one were still left confused over any of lifes problems and choices. A Sikhs journey of learning never ends. But it is only when a Sikh truly starts applying his mind, given this vast treasure house of knowledge available to him, does his journey truly begin. [Having earned his Masters degree from Virginia Tech, the author now lives and works in Washington, D.C., USA.] July 27, 2014 Source - http://sikhchic.com/faith/read_between_the_lines
Who Needs Miracles? AJITPAL SINGH As adults, we have the maturity and resources to educate ourselves about Sikhi and develop informed opinions based on our research. But what about our kids? They are too young to do it themselves partially because their minds havent developed enough to absorb such complex concepts, and partially because they are distracted by myriad other things the world has to offer them. In such a situation, the onus is upon us to get them started on the right foot. There are many ways to achieve this. The oft used method is reading to them stories or sakhis from our Gurus lives - as these tend to hold their attention far better than long, abstruse lectures on gurbani or ritual recitation of paatths. But in our zeal to encourage and inspire them, we sometimes tend to cross the line. We embellish the stories with elements of folklore and add our own little touches here and there. It is very important to pay due attention to the message being passed at such times. In no time, our kids will grow up and start thinking about the examples we gave them. They will analyze and tear them apart based on principles of logic and rationale they would be fast developing. If some of our stories do not live up to their touchstone, they will be discarded and, worse still, they will completely sideline the countless others in the same vein. The best way to avoid this, as well as ingrain the message in their young minds, is to focus on the moral of the story, rather than the dramatic elements. For instance, we all know that Guru Nanak travelled all the way to Mecca during one of his Udasis to spread the true message of God. On one occasion, he was reprimanded by one of the qazis for pointing his feet towards the Kaaba. In response, th sleeping Guru requested the Qazi to move his feet so that they pointed in any direction where God wasnt present. We all know the qazi couldnt do it. But is it really important to dwell on the fact- that the Kaaba actually moved each time to the direction his feet were moved? Surely that is not the message Guru Nanak or the sakhi wished to convey. What is important, is the moral of the story - the qazi could not point the Gurus feet in any direction where God was absent, as He is omniscient. If our child gets this message, our time was worth it. Is it more important to stress on the milk and blood aspect of the story about Guru Nanaks audience with Bhai Laalo and Malik Bhaago? Or is it important to teach our kids that Guru Nanak chose to partake in the simple fare at an honest mans hut instead of the vast spread at a dishonest, rich mans palace. Surely Guru Nanak did not intend to portray himself as a karaamati baba to his followers; even he would have wanted the actual message to be imbibed instead. Did Guru Gobind Singh actually behead and bring back to life the Punj Pyarey on that glorious Vaisakhi day in 1699? Did he use the blood of a goat instead to fool the audience? Did he even use blood at all? I have seen many an adult belabour pointlessly about this for hours But my question is - Does it really matter? The fact is the Guru asked for the heads of his loyal followers and one by one, the Punj Pyarey came forward undeterred by the risk and danger. They were not scared even in the face of death. They did not care about their own lives, their families and other worldly attachments. When it came to answer the call of their Guru, they answered it in body and spirit. In doing so, they truly understood the message of Guru Nanak, centuries after it was uttered - jau tau prem khelan ka chao / sir dhar tali gali mori aao If you wish to play the game of love, come to me with your head on the palm of your hand. Surely we couldnt have had a better start to the Khalsa. Surely thats the message to uphold in the face of worldly adversities. That is the message one should get from the incident, rather than arguing about the nitty-gritty of the actual goings on. When mentioning these stories to your kids, which aspect of these do you think will stick with them as they grow up? The actual miracles within the story or the message they espouse? Sikh history is replete with such incidents, each one giving us a lesson more valuable than the one before all we need is to pass this glorious history to our next generation by presenting it in the right context. Where else can they learn selfless service to society as with Guru Harkishan; sacrificing your life for truth and justice as with Guru Tegh Bahadar; or the unparalleled valour as with Guru Hargobind? Where can they learn that even as kids be it Gobind Rai at the tender age of nine or, later, his younger sahibzaadey of an even more tender age you can be more enlightened than adults who are far older and more experienced than you? Our kids might also be exposed to other religious texts as they grow up. They may encounter other myths and legends. They may encounter fantastical myths - including the Ramayan and the Mahabharat via television, books or the internet. Do not discourage them to explore these. Rather, give them the gift of an analytical thought process - so they can sift through the dramatic elements, and ultimately absorb the core message, which is the same across all religions, for the most part. With the changing times and circumstances, Sikhism (and other religions) will constantly face new questions and challenges. As our kids grow up in this new world, they will constantly face struggles of identity and existence. During such times, only a deep understanding about ones beliefs, values and culture and the logic behind them will be able to hold their interest. And that realization will come, only if we openly discuss and debate on such matters with them and teach them to think for themselves. Lest we bind them to rigid doctrines and risk losing them .. July 30, 2014 Source - http://sikhchic.com/article-detail.php?id=5190&cat=19