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Summary of Question:Why Is It So Important For Sikh Girls To Marry Sikh Guys
Category:Love & Marriage
Date Posted:Tuesday, 12/09/2003 6:48 AM MST


I am a teacher in Newfoundland, Canada and I am presenting a
World Religion course.
Our class watched the movie "Bend it like Beckham" and were asked to submit a journal entry that included a Question about Sikhism.

Could you offer some answers to their questions?

1.What are Sikhs allowed to do career wise?
2. Why do Sikhs have arranged marriages?
3. Why is it looked down upon if they marry people of a different race or religion?
4.Why is it so Important for Sikh girls to marry Sikh guys?
5. Why is their religion so strict?
6. Are women allowed to show their legs ?

Thank you very much
I await your reply

Colleen Manning


Thank you for your questions. Discussion dispells misunderstanding and prejudice. Keep in mind that Bend It Like Beckham was an exaggeration and did not totally represent Sikhism accurately. Also, every religion has to be interpreted by its practitioners. As is the case in Judiasm, Christianity and all religion, the beliefs and practices deviate according to the person living them.

1- Career choice is totally up to the individual, their goals in life, beliefs, etc. For example, it is a Sikh teaching not drink alcohol, but there are many Sikhs who do. For me, owning a bar would be contradicory to my beliefs...but there are Sikh bar owners, who feel no duality at all. It is a Sikh value to honor the body as the temple of the soul. I have many Sikh friends who are health practitioners. The teaching is to "work by the sweat of your brow" (in other words, put in an honest days work) and do so with honesty, consciousness, integrity and love. I'm sorry to say that many Sikhs do not live this way.

2- Arranged marriages have been a tradition in many cultures for centuries. Origionally they were done to maintain the honor of the girl and to arrange matches that were compatible with family education, status, religion, etc. Originally, couples didn't have a say in who they married...meeting the person the day before the wedding. Today, traditons have changed considerably. I talked to a young couple recently that said that their families arranged for them to meet, but the choice was totally up to them. They had time to get to know each other before they made their final decision. With the divorce rate being the way it is...and with marriage being based on sex and superficial things...who knows, maybe arranged marriage isn't such a bad thing...if it is done consciously with the final decision being left to the couple. Its kind of like an internet set up, but the parents are doing the arranging.

3- Probably every religion has this concern. If one marries outside their religion, it can make marriage harder. Which holidays will they celebrate? How will the children be raised? Will the spouses feel alienated and alone in their spiritual pursuits? If one truly beliefs in and loves the doctrines of their religion, it is natural for them to want their children to share that spiritual bliss in their life as well. Personally, I feel that if someone has been raised with a particular religion in a loving way, it will be up to them to choose for themselves when they reach adulthood. We all have our own destinies and missins in life. Parents can't decide that for a child.

4- This is partially due to being protective of their daughter, wanting the best for them, and prejudice, narrow-mindedness and fear. Also, for the reasons I stated in #3.

5- Probably every religion that is lived in the "traditional" way is strict. There are many, many Sikhs that are not living a traditional Sikh lifestyle. Many drink, smoke, cheat, lie, "sleep around" and cut their hairs. The important thing each of us has to ask is "what makes me happy?" Each of us has to choose a lifestyle that supports our identity and values. I was raised a Methodist. I started taking Yoga classes from a Master, Yogi Bhajan, in 1970. He was a Sikh. Gradually, we started asking him why he wore a turbin, recited certain prayers, etc. His words made sense to me and over the years,I evolved into being a Sikh. Is it "bad" to live to one's ideals? I feel it is only detrimental if one is fanatical and judgmental and unaccepting of other ways. The practices of one's religion or "path" are designed to help one feel union with God. Is that bad? I use my practices to also stay centered in a chaotic and unsettling time in history. I can then go out into the community and serve and uplift others.

6- Every society has traditions about what is modesty or not. For example, in India, a woman exposes her middle area (stomach), but does not her upper arms or legs. As I was raised, exposing my stomach was much more revealing that my legs or upper arms. But with the Western influence, you now see Indian girls in pants and sleeveless tops. I personally feel that we females should be modest to an extent. Our projection comes back to us. If I flount my sexuality, that energy will come back to me. People will not see me as I am, but for my body and flesh. In my life, I am trying to "radiant" my True Self from within...not cover it up or deny it with makeup and the fashion of the moment. Knowing who I am within, I try to match that identity externally in my choice of how I adorn my body.

I hope this answers some of your questions. Blessings. GTKK

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