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Keski for the Klutz-at-heart

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Okay, first post.

Last night I came home from the gurudwara wearing a dastaar for the first time. I've come to meet GGSJ later in life than some of you, having been raised a Christian in a North American-European home. I'll get to my path in another post, and share my experiences looking in from outside as I did for a while, including feeling the turban-stare for the first time, but first I need some help in getting decently covered, as I should be.

Anyway, the giani helped me after langar in tying my first turban. While it might seem more difficult to get that on straight without an awful lot of practice, it's going nowhere until I get this keski itself on straight. All the examples of videos that I've found assume that the cloth for the keski is longer than it is wide, but the piece that I have to work with is just about absolutely square. I can't get it to stay happily unless I make big knots fore and aft, and without a joora to hang anything on it seems almost impossible.

If anyone has a good example of the keski made from a square, I'd appreciate it. For now, it's sitting on my head like an oversized bandanna. Thanks in advance, and may His light shine on and on ...

- Wallace S.

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Going to Jackson Heights in Queens, NYC this weekend, where I'm gonna be grabbin' dastaar fabric and wolfing down some veggie malaya kofta. Hopefully the grey in my beard will get me by, 'coz I sure know my green eyes look unusual.

Any idea how many meters/yards ideally for a really big head? Mine is at least a size eight -- well, it used to be ... :D

- ws

wjkk, wjkf

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Veer ji,

For a dhummalla, around 8-9 yards minimum, (with a 4 yard keski underneath), and for a modern turban, around 5-6 yards.

Your green eyes are not so uncommon, some Punjabi Sikhs, and more Kashmiri Sikhs also have light coloured eyes (blue, grey, green etc)! I have quite a few relatives with light eyes.

You've probably seen this already, but it's still a pretty good resource for those learning to tie a dhumalla ot turban.


Other thing is make sure you ask for mal mal material, most shops try and rip you off and give you starch laced material that is harder and not flexible, mal mal is a really light, really soft material, pagri material comes with numbers, not sure of hte number for real mal mal. Mal is also kinder on your ears (if they protrude somewhat, like mine) whereas "normal modern" material may cut your ears if the pagri is tied to tightly.

Best thing is to grab a Singh (literally) who's pagri you like and ask him to show you in a conveneient place!

Good luck.

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Somewhat shortish reply describing a long, wondrous, strange day, it's late. Really, I could write a book from today's experiences.

Wish I had seen what you had posted first, shaheediyan. Paid $2 a yard for eight yards each of five colors, and then two different shades of white in smaller pieces for keski in a really nice shop with friendly people, and then got ripped off (I thought) at $2.50 a yard elsewhere. Don't know why I bought anything, probably embarrassment, but got seven yards of a nice medium blue, and then enough for a keski in a shade of sky blue. Both the giani and an acquaintance who owns a restaurant were kind enough to do me sewa and are each giving me a pagri apiece as well.

The two gurudwaras that I went into up there offered unusual experiences. I was literally challenged at langar by a sewadar in the first one (what do you know?, etc.) and then politely rebuffed when I went to purchase a larger karra, after I greeted SGGS and received karhah prashad, then the one that I presently have. In the other one, men were sitting around in the darbar like it was langar, literally with their backs to SGGS -- I was somewhat dumbfounded, because these guys seemed very "old school."

The trip back was long, about two and a half times longer than it should have been because of holiday traffic and road closures due to weather. Stopped twice on the highway and had weird experiences both times, also had a strange one when I got up there, as well as a rather nice one.

The first one was from a Spanish speaker -- I'm bilingual, so while it was a bit rude on his part, I had to give him points for originality. I get out of the car, and he says in Spanish "Give me water, I'm dying of thirst" -- calling me Gunga Din. Nice guy.

When I got to Jackson Heights, a bhai bailed me out of my ignorance, but good. He pointed out all the good spots, told me where to go for the best fabric, who had the better food, explained how to get to the next Sikh 'hood, and then gave me his mobile number and name just in case I got stuck up there.

Then, on the way back, I got the "turban stare" a couple times, once, rather hard, from two off-duty NYPD police officers (they were wearing tell-tale jackets from NYPD police affinity organizations), and then the second time from a rather elegantly dressed older Indian gentleman (apparently non Sikh, not that it matters) who I evidently had quite confused. Frankly, what I'm noticing is that it isn't the outright nastiness or mistrust that is so evident so much, as it is the painfully obvious not-looking-at-you, or the stares that stop as soon as you face someone.

Anyway, lunch was incredible, and priced like it was a necessity, instead of a treat. Competition is definitely a good thing!

Sleep beckons ...

Sat sri akal!

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when I notice a Sikh with white skin (not that the skin colour matters) I often think to myself 'how did s/he get into Sikhi?' A lot of the time these stories are inspiring and make me feel very humble regarding the power of our Guru, they also make me feel a greater affinity for the Guru Khalsa Panth (regardless of who tells the story). I also tend to feel quite happy to have their darshan. my point is, and I'm sure that you know it already, not everyone who 'notices' a Singh is looking in a bad way.

would love to hear your story veer ji, if you feel like sharing it.

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would love to hear your story veer ji, if you feel like sharing it.

I grew up as a Christian, specifically, as a Lutheran, a Protestant faith whose main tenet is salvation by faith alone -- not acts of kindness, not prayer -- just faith. As a somewhat lukewarm Christian, I found myself, as I passed from being a teenager to being a man out on my own, going from being a congregant with regular attendance to someone with vague ideas about the Creator and a bit of a distrust of organized religions. Basically, I had come to a warm, fuzzy undefined existence as an apostate, incapable of admitting it, and participating in a year-end burst of capitalism towards the end of December.

Part of my issue, as I saw it then, was the general commercialization of religion, part of it was the competitive nature of congregations in building what I saw then as monuments to their own glory, but the greatest part of all was my inability to reconcile the general inability of religions to respect each other's prophets and beliefs. How could different religions claim to have the market cornered on prophets with valid messages, invalidating the belief systems and sacred personages and representations of the divine in other religions? This plagued me, and I could find no answer.

For the longest time, I have been a strong supporter of the guarantees given to US citizens by the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights, most specifically the Second Amendment, which states that US citizens will not be deprived of the right to bear arms in defense of themselves or against a tyrannical government.

In doing research about this issue, I came across article after article about discrimination against Sikhs in the use of the kirpan as a kakar, that this article of faith was seen as an offensive weapon by those who either refused to learn or were prejudiced towards thinking of Sikhs as violent.

My own way of thinking is that objects themselves are neutral, that they are simply tools that can be bent towards the intent of the bearer, good or bad. In the case of firearms in the US, as well as in other places, the possibility for tragedy to me, on the part of an individual against others, always seemed outweighed by the possibility of general tyranny against an unarmed populace.

As I dug further into the issue of the kirpan, I read ancillary materials about Sikhism, and things began to click.

One God. I believe that.

All religions recognizing Him are valid pathways -- I believe that, too.

Once reason is exhausted against a belligerent enemy, it is righteous to raise the sword -- I believe that with all my heart.

All men are equal -- yes, that too, as I believe that gender makes no difference in the worth of an individual neither in society, nor before God.

God, to the Sikh, I learned, is within us and within His very creation, that God is universal, indescribable in His nature, and that the presence of God in others should make their goodness through Him the focus of our concern -- how it affected me, the idea that a religion, no, a way of life, could be so ready to fearlessly defend life in one instant, and stop in the next, without hatred.

That men of mettle and moral rectitude should fight injustice with everything at their disposal -- again, central to my own personal beliefs.

Something was clicking here, as if it were a set of tumblers within a lock around my heart. And then I began to read about the duality of faith and reason, and my interest deepened even more. Faith without reason had always been my concern, and here they were, in tandem.

I began to read sources of general information about Sikhism, about the sacrifices of the ten physical gurus, about the immutable nature of SGGSJ as the eleventh and final guru -- revered, loved, alive, but not the object of ultimate worship. I learned about Guru Nanak Dev Ji, and his vision, of the existence of the Khalsa and the concept of the sant-sepoy of Guru Gobind Singh, and considered the past struggles of the Sikh in supporting, even unto death, the right of others to worship God as they wished, as well as the past and recent holocausts through which they have lived.

And then, as I read, I learned of the drive to remove ego from one's consciousness, to allow more space for the divine, so that one might finally join with Him after the process of karma had been fulfilled.

And finally, I learned that His name was Truth. Truth is always hated by evil men, because their lies are necessary to construct the web of deceit by which they control others. One God, infinitely truthful, shining everywhere, within me, within others, in the trees -- everywhere, cutting through this web of untruth.

I realized that I had to know more, and I read the requirements established by SG Gobind Singh. I ceased cutting my hair, and began to attempt to wade through the gurbani and kirtan that I downloaded, not knowing where to start. Literally, I spent at least two weeks in befuddlement. Further reading revealed what was proper in order to listen to kirtan and read bani, and so, I made arrangements so that I could comply.

I got up at what I know now to be amrit vaylaa the next morning, having decided to begin at what I understood to be the beginning of the day for an observant Sikh.

Listening to Japji Sahib as kirtan, the hair on my arms lifted up, and as I attempted to pace the English translation and transliteration with the audio, I found that it was as if the English were unnecessary. I could make sense of the message on some basic, practically reptilian level, without understanding even the smallest character of ghumurki, and as I sat there, I realized that these were perfect words that were the product of enlightenment that I could never wholly grasp, words that had never before been said, and that would never again be said, except to repeat them endlessly with loving devotion for the Guru and for the Creator.

I cried. I wept for what may have been twenty or thirty minutes, and the negativity of decades flowed out of me like poison from a wound. Here was my reason for being, outlined, perfectly.

The rest of the day passed as if it were gilded, from one sublime moment to the next. Nothing was as it had been before -- never, ever in my prior life had I felt like this.

That night, I listened to the Kirtan Sohila. Again, I was overwhelmed with emotion without being able to precisely put my finger on the source of what felt like a resonating presence within me. These, I remember above all, except for one:

%ua17%ua17%ua28 %ua2e%ua48 %ua25%ua3e%ua32%ua41 %ua30%ua35%ua3f %ua1a%ua70%ua26%ua41 %ua26%ua40%ua2a%ua15 %ua2c%ua28%ua47 %ua24%ua3e%ua30%ua3f%ua15%ua3e %ua2e%ua70%ua21%ua32 %ua1c%ua28%ua15 %ua2e%ua4b%ua24%ua40 %u965

Upon that cosmic plate of the sky, the sun and the moon are the lamps. The stars and their orbs are the studded pearls.

%ua27%ua42%ua2a%ua41 %ua2e%ua32%ua06%ua28%ua32%ua4b %ua2a%ua35%ua23%ua41 %ua1a%ua35%ua30%ua4b %ua15%ua30%ua47 %ua38%ua17%ua32 %ua2c%ua28%ua30%ua3e%ua07 %ua2b%ua42%ua32%ua70%ua24 %ua1c%ua4b%ua24%ua40 %u965%ua67%u965

The fragrance of sandalwood in the air is the temple incense, and the wind is the fan. All the plants of the world are the altar flowers in offering to You, O Luminous Lord.

The infinity of the universe as mere decorations placed by God within his own cosmic temple -- the microscopic, to Him, nature of looking at the beauty and perfume of the wonders of His planet as further adornments -- I was reeling.

And then, after absorbing more of the vibrations of this wondrous sound, incompletely keeping pace with the translation, I came to the end of the Kirtan Sohila, and I felt my cares, my worries, my vexations with my own poor health lift off of me and disappear:

%ua28%ua3e%ua28%ua15 %ua26%ua3e%ua38%ua41 %ua07%ua39%ua48 %ua38%ua41%ua16%ua41 %ua2e%ua3e%ua17%ua48 %ua2e%ua4b %ua15%ua09 %ua15%ua30%ua3f %ua38%ua70%ua24%ua28 %ua15%ua40 %ua27%ua42%ua30%ua47 %u965%ua6a%u965%ua6b%u965

Nanak, Your slave, begs for this happiness: let me be the dust of the feet of the Saints.

What more could man desire, but to fulfill His will?

I slept, dreaming vivid, if indescribable visions of peaceful scenes, and woke up the next morning feeling a lightness of being within me.

That day, I made arrangements to meet with the assistant giani of our local gurudwara. Nothing since then has been the same, and I still find myself glowing.

waheguru, waheguru, waheguru, waheguru, until my lips stop moving and the sweet air moves its last from my lungs ...

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Just for information purposes:

All the traditional orders of sikhism agrees with the below concept of God within Sikhism:

Basic spiritual beleive in Sikh Dharam

Sikhi beleives in God does not incaranate fully but God transcedents his attributes in his creation. For eg- Guru's had most not all attributes of Nirgun Paratama(God which we cannot see).

- Sikhi beleive in advait(non-dual) worship - worship only one creator, seeing that one creator in his creation (Parbhram Upasana).

- Sikhi beleive God has two forms- one form which does not change (Nirguna-orginal form) ie- God- indescrible, unreachable, limitless ,timeless etc, and second form is sarguna (the one which we can see), God transform it's attributes in sargun form. Sargun form can be considers as Guru Avtar, Nit Avtar (Sants/Saints) etc.

- Sikhi beleive only way to get to God, is via Grace of Guru from social religious perspective- grace of Satguru Nanak in Sikh Dharma, from spiritual aspect meaning of Guru can be broaden to any person who brings one from darkness into light. But that does not mean, one should not make a effort by thinking - i m going to get grace one day regardless without making any effort , that means one should defaniately make a effort to acquire grace of Guru by listening and following discourses of Guru.

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Beautiful. I do ardaas that your journey is as beautiful as your initial search and discovery.

Be warned, within the remits of the panth, there are negative people, negative practices, hypocrisy, ego imbued intelligence and division, do not be perturbed by this, as in this way Sikhi is no different to other faith movements, but focus on and pray to meet Guru's real children within this world and panthic web, Vaheguru never, ever, disappoints.

In my experience no "section" of the panth, traditional or modern holds completeness, Guru's diversity has spread amongst his children, try not to get caught up in any patriotism to any jathaa or samparada, just focus on Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. on your own journey (through history and research) and individuals (rather than their historic group or lineage).

When you meet (you may already have done so), true Sikhs, in who's actions, words and eyes you see Guru, the negative elements encountered will no longer recide in your thoughts.

I pray Vaheguru parm-atma blesses you in your path.

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