Oh my mother,
Like you there is no other,
Through love and humility,
You fill our souls with tranquility.
Dhan Dhan Mata Sahib Kaur Ji
Being a British Sikh, I have grown up torn between two cultures. From the colourful chaos of the East to the traditional mannerism of the West, discovering my identity as a young Sikh women in England was a journey that was not straightforward.
The identity of Sikhs is one that is visually empowering and emits strength and dignity. I was tied between pressures of altering my appearance and battling my ingrained belief of remaining just as I was blessed. Growing up, I sought comfort in seeing my own mother embrace a more natural and simplistic existence. From attending a predominantly white girls school, I was unable to share the turmoil of living with a dual identity. Once the kesh (uncut hair) began to blossom all over my body so did the pressure to ‘groom’ and remove it. As this burden intensified so did my urge to seek more knowledge and understanding about what my faith reinforces so I turned to my Guru (teacher) for guidance…
Sun man mitr piaariaa mil velaa hai eh ||
Listen, O my mind, my friend, my darling: now is the time to meet the Lord.
Jab lag joban saas hai tab lag ih tan dheh ||
As long as there is youth and breath, give this body to Him.
Bin gun kaam na aaviee ddeh dderee tan kheh ||1||
Without virtue, it is useless; the body shall crumble into a pile of dust. ||1||
Mere man lai laahaa ghar jaeh ||
O my mind, earn the profit, before you return home.
Siree Raag – Guru Nanak Dev Ji – Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji – Ang20
… and then the feeling within me rose. My mind had become so obsessed with this mere mortal form and less so with connecting my mind and soul with Waheguru (God). It was this realisation that drew me more and more into Sikhi. If my Guru ji created my physical being so perfectly, who am I to question his creation?
“… I would never be consumed by the opinions of other as long as my Guru was with me”
As I developed from a teen into a young woman my search continued. I learned of the great Singhnia that had once graced the earth, leaving such inspirational legacies of courage and heroinism. Mata Khivi Ji, Mata Bhag Kaur Ji, and Bibi Sharan Kaur Ji to name just a few. As I started A-Level study, I began to cover my head at all times and this was particularly difficult as I went to a Sixth Form within my secondary school. I felt fear as to how my new outward projection would be perceived by my childhood friends. Walking into the common room I felt the presence of Waheguru and with my head held high, I was fazed little by whispers and giggles that surrounded me. From this day onwards I was sure that I would never be consumed by the opinions of other as long as my Guru was with me. Little did I know that years later, this experience would replay once again.
Throughout my whole degree, using creativity I once again open up the issues surrounding my identity. Unveiling truths about my own journey and also seeking familiarity with the women around me. Even all the way up to the day of my Anand Karaj (blissful union – wedding) my identity was tested with immediate family questioning my choice of outfits. It was only after marriage that I began to consolidate answers and find peace within myself wholly. I had now embraced another mother in the form of my husband’s and little did I know there would soon be a third.
A month after marriage I was blessed with Amrit Di Daat. And this is when I discovered the realm of Mata Sahib Kaur Ji.
The personification of a female Gursikh; I was awestruck by their jeevan. No longer just known to me as the ‘Mother of the Khalsa’ but the definition of devotion and unconditional love. My love for them continues to flourish through their example of humility and selflessness and this is why this movie is so much more than just another screenplay to me. The Motherhood movie immerses young Sikh females and also males through awareness of Mata Sahib Kaur Ji within our eminent history.
Please continue to support this project with all that you can and let’s help our younger generation discover their true identities through Sikhi also.
– Charanjit Kaur, 24 (Photographer and Teacher)