UPDATE: This blog is my commentary on the subject that was discussed on REALLIFEtalks.
Since I am always moderating, I’m constantly looking around to make sure that everyone gets to participate and we acknowledge people’s comments. It’s important to me to make sure that everyone is heard and that we all get a chance to SPEAK UP AND LISTEN!
Now it’s my chance to put my two cents in…
This subject means a lot to me because I was very confused about my identity when I was growing up. But the thing was.. I didn’t know what I didn’t know… that I didn’t have all the facts. I thought that because my parents were Sikh and they went to the gurdwara every Sunday that they knew about Sikhism – which is what I was learning from them. Reality was that my parents were illiterate and they never really learned about the religion. Didn’t know how to read the Guru Granth Sahib and the religion was learned through osmosis which is how we were introduced to it. I thought that the words Sikh and culture were interchangeable. And that’s how I described it to my friends (those that asked) – “Sikhism is more of a culture than a religion”.
For me being Sikh was about going to the gurdwara, speaking Punjabi, wearing Indian suits and eating roti every night. I wasn’t sure if I identified with the culture since language was difficult without a thick Canadian accent, food was not appreciated with us wishing we had KFC every night and we desperately did not want our mom wearing her Indian suit downtown while we were buying our groceries. I didn’t want to be different. I just wanted to be like our Canadian friends because in our mind there was no difference – we were Canadian.
One of the questions we pondered during the Spreecast was about what we wished that we knew about our religion while growing up. I think it was unanimously decided it would be great to have had the opportunity to ask any question without judgement or editorialization. But we all know education is only as good at the teacher we are fortunate or unfortunate to get. However, it would have been awesome to get a consistent teachings of the Sikhism that allowed all of us to answer questions from our friends with authority and knowledge.
As an adult there is still so much to learn especially when my family considers me the expert on Sikhism as my religion and South Asian (Punjabi) as my culture. I have a three-year old son who is a whole wheat baby. I want him to feel comfortable with his identity while he is growing up. And for him to know the difference between his religion and his culture. It is important for Scott and I to expose Tej to the South Asian community as much as we can. If I can find some school to send him to we will definitely make the effort and I think we may know of one that will be able to answer his questions… Which is great.
As I think about the question: Which defines me? I have to say that I am a South Asian Canadian who is educating myself about my religion Sikhism. I want to share everything with those that are curious about the two… because isn’t that what it’s all about – to SPEAK UP AND LISTEN!
REALLIFEtalks is a multi-media talk show that explores diversity and celebrates all cultures — their differences and similarities … teaching one another and learning from each other. We will learn how different and how similar we are at the same time. It is an interactive global talk show