Thursday, April 15, 2010

Happy Vaisakhi!

Today is Vaisakhi, a Sikh high holy day. April 14th was the day the Khalsa was created - a collective Sikh body of sant-sipahis (warrior-saints), armed to overthrow oppression and injustice of any kind. The Sikh scriptures are one of the only religious writings with equality for all races, castes, classes, and *genders* written directly into the text.

I grew up with a devout mother and an atheist father (that's where Sharan, the main character's mom in SHINE got her atheism--from my dad :P). My father would drive us to the temple and sit outside until my mother was ready to go. We had the choice of going in with her or staying in the car (listening to lefty radio) with my dad. My brother and I would go in or stay out depending on whatever our mood was that morning. It gave us a bit of insight into different ways of seeing the world. But both my parents were outspoken advocates for justice. Still are.

I would say I grew up "culturally Sikh". We were a mish-mash of Hindu, Sikh, atheist, agnostic, and just plain open. I'm grateful to have grown up in a home where the religious scriptures were about equality. I had those words in my vocabulary early, in both Punjabi and English. Don't know if this made things easier for me, or harder. But what it did do is give me a basis for rebelling. Ha! Not sure if that's what my parents were hoping I'd glean from the writings in the holy book, but all the founders of the faith were rebels (maybe this is true for all faiths...?).

In any case, wishing a hearty happy Vaisakhi to all.

ETA: I just discovered that April 15th is Pohela Boisaakh, the Bengali New Year. Given that many Sikhs pronounce Vaisakhi with a 'B', as in Baisakhi - the similarity in names is making me ask ALL sorts of questions. But whatever - Happy Pohela Boisaakh, as well!

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