Thursday, August 13, 2009

The significance of kesh

I'll never forget the day my brother cut his hair. It hurt me so much that I couldn't even look at him in the face for several days.

It's been about five years since the event, and I'm still coming to terms with it. I've always wondered why we are so focused on whether or not people are cleanshaven or not. I always used to tell myself that it's the person inside and their actions that really matters. But the tables were quickly turned when "my own flesh and blood performed the act".

At first, I felt betrayed. Then, I felt angry at him. Why did he do that?

We grew up in a predominantly Caucasian town, where most of the boys in Sikh families we knew had cut their hair. I always knew it was hard for my brother to keep his joora. Kids always made fun of his "girl-like" hair, but he had no Sikh friends to look up to to learn how to deal with this problem.

Soon after, I felt angry at myself. Why hadn't I spent more time with him, showing him the importance of his religion?

Slowly, I worked towards acceptance. Despite his drastically different appearance, my brother was still the same caring person that he always was.

I began to think about all the other Sikh people I knew who cut their hair. I began to realize that despite my surface feeling that I did not judge them for not keeping kesh, I really did. Why? I didn't judge my non-Sikh friends, all of whom obviously were clean-shaven.

And why did it make my blood boil when none of the "Sikhs" in the latest Bollywood hit, Love Aaj Kal, had true, uncut dharis?

Finally, why did the youtube video I posted earlier this week give me such kushi when I watched it?

What are your thoughts on this often-discussed issue?

Monday, August 10, 2009