Are we flirting with other religions?

As a Sikh in America, I would be lying if I said I didn’t celebrate the holidays over here....

My last blog was tense, direct, and it offended and hurt a lot of people. And for those people that I offended, I apologize. It was not my intention to hurt or upset you. Like with all of my blogs, it was my intention to make you think. And to me, intentions are everything in this world.
 
My previous blog brought up a topic of much larger magnitude that I believe should be thought about in much greater depth. Do we flirt with other religions and possibly cheat on our own religion?
 
I know what you're thinking. Huh? What is she talking about? Please, allow me to explain!
 
I will start out with holidays. Before I get into the semantics of how we (as Sikhs) celebrate our holidays and how we celebrate other religion's holidays, I want to discuss holidays on a broad spectrum first. Generally speaking, when a holiday comes up for any religion there are two levels of celebration and many different variations. Those two levels in my opinion are: The cultural and the spiritual.
 
1. The spiritual: The remembrance of the holiday. The purpose of the holiday. The original intent behind the holiday. Many holidays of many religions are often the birthdays of their Prophets or Gurus. And on that day the spiritual way to celebrate is to go to that place of worship and pray and remember the Prophet or Guru. Done!
 
2. The cultural: Where do I even begin on the cultural? Let me try: The gifts, the money, the parties, the decorations, the food, the music, the candles, the clothes, the jewelry, just to name a few.  Not done!
 
In every culture and in every country, holidays get highly commercialized and profitable for many people and many large corporations. Is there anything wrong with it? I don't know. I really don't know because I really do love the cultural stuff. But my heart and soul are screaming if I don't get enough of the spiritual stuff.
 
So now lets talk about us as Sikhs. Us as Indian/Punjabi culturally influenced Sikhs. Whenever there is a Gurpurab or anything like that, what do we do? We get all dressed up in our colorful Punjabi suits and go to Gurudwara and listen to kirtan and eat laddoos! Sweet for our soul and sweet for our tongue! Yeah! Is anything wrong with it? I don’t think so. We are blending and balancing our culture and our religion. Good job us! 
 
But now this is where I start getting confused, lost, and absolutely thrown off: when we start practicing other holidays. Wait! I know your defenses are still up from my last blog! But just hear me out. For the Sikhs that live in India, I understand this want and need to celebrate Hindu holidays because that is what you are surrounded with all day everyday. I get it. Plus, it's fun! I mean, who doesn’t like firecrackers, gifts, and sweets? (Well, some people have been burned by fireworks and some people have diabetes, but whatever, you know what I mean.) 
 
As a Sikh in America, I would be lying if I said I didn’t celebrate the holidays over here. Everything from Mothers Day & Fathers Day to Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas. This is where it gets interesting. Mother's Day and Father's Day is totally commercial and culture. So, I’ll get the cards and gifts for my parents and call it a day. Hallmark is happy and my parents are happy. Win, win! As for Halloween, many devout Christians today do not celebrate it because of its association and reference to the devil, witches, ghosts, etc. But I don’t believe in any of that stuff so hey, more candy for me! Now, Thanksgiving. Don’t get me started on Thanksgiving.  I don’t even eat turkey any more so uhmmm, where is my Tofurkey at? And Christmas. Oh dear. Christmas. . . . . 
 
Any devout Christian will tell you that Christmas is the most commercialized holiday of them all. Some Christians will ignore all of the “extra” and just go to church on that day and that’s it. Some Christians will spend hundreds or maybe even thousands on all of the “extra” and not even go to church on that day. Some Christians don’t even celebrate it at all because they believe the actual birthdate of Jesus Christ was not in fact December 25th. To each their own! Christmas completely takes over America in the month of December so no matter what faith you belong to you are celebrating it in one way or another. Even when it comes down to ordering a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks with their Christmas designed cups and snowman cookies. I myself have participated in secret Santa gift exchanges at work and with friends. I sure as heck take advantage of those Christmas sales with my scented lotions and candles. And I'll even give out cards at work, except mine say "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas" ;) A lot of Sikhs celebrate Christmas. A lot of Sikhs even have Christmas trees in their homes with Khandas on the top of the tree instead of a star. Is any of this right or wrong?  I don't know! (Insert crying face emoji!) At a Sikh Camp years ago that took place in December some of the elders got mad at the camp counselors for singing Christmas carols with the kids during free time. Ouch! 
 
What I'm really trying to get at is: Where's the line? Is there a line? Should there be a line to what we can or can't do? To what we should celebrate and to what we should not celebrate. And to what extent? Where is the line between what we celebrate culturally and religiously?  Personally, I do think that it is okay to celebrate and enjoy cultural festivities and holidays with other groups of people as long as we don't ever stray away from ourselves or our path. To what line and degree that is, I will never be able to answer that because it truly does depend on each individual. What I will say is this though: There has to be a line somewhere. Why? So that we don't live in duality. That's why. I'll come back to this in a minute. But remember this word: Duality. It's huge.
 
For me personally, that line is this: I will visit other places of worship and I will learn about them and enjoy them and give them the upmost respect. But, I will bow down to none other than my Guru. And I wouldn't expect or mandate a visitor who enters my place of worship to bow down to my Guru either. Bowing down is huge! It means we are willing to sacrifice our very own being for that entity. It means that we want to follow that entity or being.  If I went to a Hindu temple or any other place of worship and bowed down to a Hindu God or Goddess or any other entity, I would seriously feel like I am cheating on my religion. (Again, that's me personally. And again, I repeat, I have no issues with going to a temple to visit and say hi to the Gods and Goddesses, I just can't bow down to them.) 

 

 
There is only one other correlation that comes to my mind to make this concept a little more clear. It's kind of like cheating on your spouse. No it's not kind of like it. It is like it. When you are married, you don't go around sleeping with other people. You don't go around kissing others and holding hands with others. You don't take off your wedding/engagement ring, nor do you turn it around when you see an attractive person. You don't go and have "drinks" with other people. You just don't! I hold marriage, and engagement, and boyfriend and girlfriend relationships very sacred. The moment you step outside of your relationship in this manner, you have disrespected your partner, your families, your Guru, and yourself.  Why would you do that? 
 
And what about flirting? Is it okay? Is it not okay? People think I flirt with them all of the time, but I'm just a very loud, expressive, and extroverted person. It's okay to have friends of the opposite gender but the moment the feelings go from friendship to more than friendship when you are committed to someone else, you are now living a life of duality. 
 
You know, it's kind of like this. When you are learning about Sikhi, it's like you have become friends with the Guru. When you consciously make the decision to become a Sikh, you are now boyfriend and girlfriend with the Guru. When you start keeping your hair, you are engaged to the Guru. And when you take Amrit, it's like you are married to the Guru! So for the love of God, don't cheat on your Guru!!! Of course we can be friends with other religions, but don't go kissing and sleeping around with other religions! Gossshhhhhh!!!!

Here is a little reference chart for some more examples of where I draw my lines. Again, this is just me personally. Everyone will have a different line and a different chart. 

Religion

Just Friends

Flirting / Cheating! 

Christianity 

Putting up a Christmas Tree

Exchanging Gifts/ Secret Santa

Drinking that Pumpkin Spice Latte

Going to Christian Prayer Meetings and participating in the healing powers of Jesus Christ

Islam

Going to a Chaand Raat Mela – purchasing super cute Pakistani shoes and clothes! 

Eating delicious Pakistani Vegetarian Food

Going to and participating in Eid Prayers

Eating Halal Meat 

Hinduism

Popping Fireworks on Diwali

Throwing Colors on Holi 

Bowing down to Idols/ Hindu Gods and Goddesses

Fasting on Karva Chauth 

When we are celebrating other religion's holidays, are we just friends with them? Are we flirting with them? Or are we cheating on our own religion? I believe it would come down to our intentions and the purpose and meaning of that particular holiday. If I eat some candy on Halloween, I don't believe that I am going against any teachings of Sikhi. But, if I practice a holiday or partake in something that directly goes against the teachings of my Guru, yeah, now we have an issue. Now, I'm living in duality. In many of my blogs, I like to define the word that I am talking about. I went to dictionary.com so that I could find the nice American English definition of duality and you want to know what related words I found for duality? Hypocrisy, dishonesty, twosome (huh?), falsehood, deceit, and artifice were just a few. 

Do you know how many times duality is mentioned in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib? 476 times! Here are just a few lines from the Sri Guru Granth Sahib for your reference. When you have a chance read the whole Shabad. They are amazing and soul piercing. 
ਦੂਜੈ ਭਾਇ ਕੋ ਨਾਮਿ ਲੈ ਫਿਰਿ ਫਿਰਿ ਆਵੈ ਜਾਇ॥
No one merges with Him through the love of duality; over and over again, they come and go in reincarnation.Guru Amar Das   -  view Shabad/Paurhi/Salok
ਪਾਖੰਡਿ ਭਗਤਿ ਨ ਹੋਵਈ ਦੁਬਿਧਾ ਬੋਲੁ ਖੁਆਰੁ॥
Hypocrisy is not devotion-speaking words of duality leads only to misery.Guru Amar Das   -  view Shabad/Paurhi/Salok
ਦੂਜੈ ਭਾਇ ਦੁਖੁ ਲਾਇਦਾ ਬਹੁਤੀ ਦੇਇ ਸਜਾਇ॥
In the love of duality, people suffer in pain, condemned to terrible punishment.Guru Amar Das   -  view Shabad/Paurhi/Salok
When you live a life of duality in your relationships or your religion or whatever else it may be, your head, your heart, and your soul are just lost and most of all. . . . . . 
Confused. 
When you live a life of duality in your relationships or your religion or whatever else it may be, your head, your heart, and your soul are just lost and most of all. . . . . . 

Confused. 
 
 
Bhull Chuk Maaf
Christine Kaur

Christine Kaur

Christine Kaur started blogging as an outlet to express the trials of relationships of second generation western born Sikhs like herself.

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