Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh,
So I know many people will be wondering why I suddenly turned to Sikhi, or why I ‘suddenly became religious’, and I can understand why people are so curious. I used to fit the stereotype for Asian boys perfectly, I used to drink all the time, I used to smoke shisha all the time, I was constantly worried about my appearance and how I looked, and I always wanted to go after girls. I was known as a ‘wasteman’, and I myself will admit it, I was one. I decided that life was too short to have such a lifestyle, and that I wanted to change myself and better myself as a person.
At the student halls I live at I always see one Singh, I don’t know his name and i’ve never even spoken to him, but he was my biggest inspiration to turn to Sikhi. I would see him everyday wearing traditional Indian clothing and holding bags with his tabla inside it, it was obvious to me that he was going to the Gurdwara from the way he was dressed. But seeing him dressed like this changed the way I thought. I admired the way he did not care what people thought about him, I know shallow people would have laughed to themselves, but to me I respected him as he was proud of his relgion and he did not care what people thought about him. This made me begin to realise that life is too short to care about what people think about you, and that it did not matter to have all the best things in life and to be dressed in head to toe in designer clothing. This motivated me to start growing my hair, something I always wanted to do but never had the guts to do, as I was always too bothered about how I looked.
In my family my grandmother was the only Gursikh, she always wanted her children and grandchildren to be Gursikhs but none turned out to be. Me being the first grandchild she asked my mum to raise me as a Gursikh but my mum refused. I grew up in a predominantly white city, I was the only asian in my whole school, so for the sake of bullying I tried to hide my Sikh identity as much as I could. When my grandmother passed away I began to think that maybe it was time to fulfil my grandmothers wishes. I moved to Birmingham for university which was a big change for me, I was around Singhs. Being around Singhs motivated me to want to grow my hair and have the identity of a Sikh, as I knew I wasn’t alone. I knew I had people around me to support me and help me. By spending time with Singhs, I saw the lifestyle they lived. I saw that they did not have all the best things, but they weren’t bothered about materialistic things, they were happy with what they had, they had a lot of love in their hearts for everybody, they were willing to accept anyone no matter what their past was and they did not talk disrespectfully towards anyone. I envied them. They proved that materialistic items does not create happiness.
When some people I once called friends came to learn that I was going to grow my hair and turn to Sikhi they laughed, and said things such as ‘you will never be able to get girls with a beard and turban’, I myself pitied them because they saw getting girls as a high priority thing in life. I knew myself that I would find someone who would want me for my heart and not for my looks, so that did not bother me in the slightest. What bothered me was when ‘friends’ would say to me, ‘oh you wont be able to grow your hair, you’ll cut it soon’, this itself motivated me to want to prove them wrong and to grow my hair.
I began to read and listen to the Sikh prayers more and more. I began going to the Gurdwara more. Instead of just listening to the prayers and not understanding them, I started to read them in more detail. I processed the prayers semantically, by doing this I learnt the true beauty and meaning behind them. By actually understanding what I was reading it gave a lot more meaning to them, and it made me want to change my lifestyle. Furthermore I began to do research into Sikh history, I learned about the sacrifices the Gurus and other martyrs made, they made these sacrifices for us, for future generations of Sikhs to live in harmony with people of other religions. These people went through all that torture and pain for us, and what was I doing? I was distancing myself from my religion. I saw what I was doing as disrespectful. I began to feel ashamed. This was another contributor towards my decision to turn to Sikhi and to better my life.
The only thing I have done is keeping my hair, I still eat meat and drink alcohol occasionally. However eventually I will stop these aswell. But I did not want to give everything up altogether because I knew that I would go back to my old ways quickly. I believe that I have to do this step by step and at my own pace. People keep on bringing up my past, but I don’t understand why? It’s in the past for a reason, I know I did a lot of bad things before, but i’m trying to make myself a better person. The funny thing is, it isn’t even Singhs who are bringing up my past. I am grateful to the people who are supporting me, and are motivating me to carry on going. I guess not everyone will be happy for you, and will bring negativity towards you, but at the end of the day this happens with everything. I’ve just learnt to overcome it, and to look past it.