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Myths About Sikh Women And Seva


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Myths About Sikh Women And Seva

By Mejindarpal Kaur

Wednesday, May 14, 2003 - 12:38 PM EST

It has been suggested that Sikh women should not be allowed to participate in certain seva. Answers from Gurmat to excuses for disallowing seva are given below.

During seva a Sikh woman would have to endure Eve-teasing, jostling, or she may indeed be involved in sexual misdemeanors.

GURMAT: A Sikh woman is less likely to be a victim of eve teasing at a Gurdwara, let alone Darbar Sahib, Amritsar, than she is at any other public place. Jostling should be brought under control by the management by hiring properly trained and polite Sevadaars who can ensure orderly conduct at Gurdwaras.

To suggest that Sikh women will indulge in sexual misconduct during seva is an insult to the devotion and integrity of all Sikh women. However, should any untoward incident take place, it will involve both a man and a woman and both parties should be appropriately dealt with. Misconduct by Sikh men should not punish Sikh women. All efforts should be taken to punish the miscreants.

A menstruating Sikh women should not be allowed to do seva and it would be difficult to establish if she is menstruating when she requests to do seva.

GURMAT: There is no prohibition in Sikhism on a woman undertaking any Seva or prayer when she is menstruating. Guru Nanak Dev Ji declared in Asa Ki Vaar: Sebho Sootak Bharam Hae….All belief in the Brahminical concept of sootak is mere superstition. Guru Nanak Dev Ji goes on to say….that the superstition of sootak can only be erased by spiritual knowledge…Nanak Sootak Aave Na Utarae Gian Utarair Dhoae.

As a woman has her periods, month after month, so does falsehood dwell in the mouth of the false; they suffer forever, again and again. They are not called pure, who sit down after merely washing their bodies. Only they are pure, O Nanak, within whose minds Vaheguru abides. || 2 || (page-472: Mehla-1)

Sikh men wear their kecchera as an outer garment during the cleaning seva in Darbar Sahib, however, it would be improper for a Sikh woman to do the same as it may be distracting for Sikh men.

GURMAT: There is no need for Sikh men and women to dress alike during seva. A Sikh woman could be asked to dress in a manner, which is respectful of her presence in the Darbar Sahib. Any tradition, which prevents a Sikh woman from exercising her right to do seva, has to be modified accordingly.

Sikh women have never done seva at Darbar Sahib, be it for cleaning the Darbar Sahib or for doing Kirtan. Why start a new tradition? Further, they may distract the Surt (spiritual link) of the male sangat.

GURMAT: There is no historical evidence to suggest that Sikh women did not ever do seva at Darbar Sahib. To the contrary, Sikh history is replete with examples of seva done by Sikh women. Further, since equality of women was recognised by Guru Nanak Dev Ji, there is no theological basis to suggest that Sikh women were prohibited from doing seva at Darbar Sahib.

Sikh women have done Kirtan at all other gurdwaras, including Takht Sahibs where the distraction to the male surt has not been an issue. Why should it be any different at Darbar Sahib Ji?

Due to the weight of the Palki Sahib, a woman would not be able to carry it on her shoulders.

GURMAT: It is ignorant to suggest that no Sikh woman would have the stature to shoulder the weight of the Palki Sahib, assisted by other bearers. It is naïve to suggest that a Sikh woman would attempt to do this seva unless she has the strength to do so.

There is always a heavy rush following the Palki Sahib seva during the Sukhasan and Parkash ceremonies. If Sikh women are allowed to undertake the Palki Sahib seva, they could be 'roughed' up in the rush and could give rise to more problems.

GURMAT: There should be no disorderly conduct during any of these ceremonies as it is unbecoming conduct at a holy place. The SGPC management should engage suitably trained Sevadaars to ensure orderly ceremonies. Therefore, if the ceremonies stewards do their job well, the question should not arise about any risk to Sikh women during these ceremonies.

Types of Seva:

1. Palki

No Sikh woman has ever done such seva previously. Why start a new tradition?

GURMAT: Equal opportunity is not a tradition but a right. We are aware of instances where a Sikh woman has done the palki sahib seva.

The Palki Sahib ceremony is a ritual and no Sikh, man or woman should do it anyway.

GURMAT: Rituals or Karam Kaand are prohibited in Sikhism. But if a Sikh, man or woman performs a religious act as an act of love for the Guru, it is not a Karam Kand. A Sikh should be made aware of this and the SGPC should not allow any act of the ceremony to take the shape or form of a Karam Kaand. If any aspect of the palki seva is ritualistic, SGPC should end it.

2. Panj Piaré

Panj Piaré seva: In 1699 when Guru Gobind Singh Ji called for volunteers to be one of the panj piaré, no woman rose to the challenge and so she should be excluded from the panj piaré seva today.

GURMAT: The social realities of 1699 were very different from today. However, it must be remembered that Mata Sahib Kaur was bestowed the custodianship of the Khalsa. An Amritdhari Sikh woman partakes amrit from the same crucible and ceases to be seen as a woman or man in her spiritual role as one of the panj piaré.

Since women were not one of the panj piaré in 1699, are Sikh women, therefore, not to take amrit today? Further, since there were no European Sikhs in 1699, should European Sikhs be disallowed from being one of the Panj Piaré too? Using historical events to distort Sikh principles is a sign of ignorance.

mÚ 1 ijau jorU isrnwvxI AwvY vwro vwr ] jUTy jUTw muiK vsY inq inq hoie KuAwru ] sUcy eyih n AwKIAih bhin ij ipMfw Doie ] sUcy syeI nwnkw ijn min visAw soie ]2] {pMnw 472}

pd ArQ: jorU-iesq®I [ isrnwvxI-nHwauxI, mwhvwrI ^Un [ vwro vwr-hr mhIny, sdw [ jUTy-JUTy mnu`K dy [ jUTw-JUTw [ eyih-Ajyhy mnu`K [ sUcy-su`cy, piv`qr [ AwKIAih-AwKy jWdy hn [ ij-jo mnu`K [ soeI-auhI mnu`K [ ijn min-ijnHW dy mn ivc [ soie-auh pRBuU [2[

ArQ: ijvyN iesq®I ƒ sdw hr mhIny nHwauxI AwauNdI hY (qy ieh Apiv`q®qw sdw aus dy AMdroN hI pYdw ho jWdI hY), iqvyN JUTy mnu`K dy mUMh ivc sdw JUT hI rihMdw hY qy ies krky auh sdw du`KI hI rihMdw hY [ Ajyhy mnu`K su`cy nhIN AwKy jWdy jo inrw srIr ƒ hI Do ky (Awpxy vloN piv`qr bx ky) bYT jWdy hn [ hy nwnk! kyvl auhI mnu`K su`cy hn ijnHW dy mn iv`c pRBU v`sdw hY [2[

If one accepts the concept of impurity, then there is impurity everywhere. In cow-dung and wood there are worms. As many as are the grains of corn, none is without life. First, there is life in the water, by which everything else is made green. How can it be protected from impurity? It touches our own kitchen. O Nanak, impurity cannot be removed in this way; it is washed away only by spiritual wisdom. || 1 ||

FIRST MEHL: The impurity of the mind is greed, and the impurity of the tongue is falsehood. The impurity of the eyes is to gaze upon the beauty of another man's wife, and his wealth. The impurity of the ears is to listen to the slander of others. O Nanak, the mortal's soul goes, bound and gagged to the city of Death. || 2 ||

FIRST MEHL: All impurity comes from doubt and attachment to duality. Birth and death are subject to the Command of the Lord's Will; through His Will we come and go. Eating and drinking are pure, since the Lord gives nourishment to all. O Nanak, the Gurmukhs, who understand the Lord, are not stained by impurity. || 3 ||

- Interpretation of a passage from page 472 of Sri Guru Granth Sahib

Law student Mejindarpal Kaur is a former journalist who has a home in the United Kingdom. Denied the right to participate in seva at the Darbar Sahib in February this year, Kaur's visit to India has turned into a campaign for implementation of the equal rights of women recognised five hundred years ago as part of the Sikh faith.

The article appears courtesy New York based human rights group Voices For Freedom who facilitated a seminar in Washington earlier this month on Sikh Women's issues. This paper was presented at the seminar on behalf of Mejindarpal Kaur, who continues to remain in the Punjab.

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fatehh!! great replies to each "claim"

if it is such a big deal to them - why not have all bibiya doin seva one day - and singhs the next day on a rota scheme... ehmy :roll: :roll:

fateh

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