Half the Nishaan

In 1699, a woman poured sweetness into the Birth of the Khalsa.

At our Vesakhi celebration today in Española, New Mexico, the sevadars who welcomed the Sadh Sanggat into the Siri Singh Sahib’s ranch were women. The food was served and everything later cleared by women.

During the Nagar Kirtan, there were women in the Panj Pyare. Women sang kirtan on the float. Women helped carry the palki that Guru Granth Sahib Ji was on.

At Gurdwara, both kirtani jathas were led by women. When Saropas for community service were presented, 6 went to women, 4 to men, and 3 to children. The Ardas was led by a woman. A woman beat the Nagara. Women served the Parshaad, and the first 5 servings also went to women.

The most beautiful thing? This wasn’t part of some women’s empowerment initiative. No group of people sat around a table and decided that the men had to take a backseat today. It just happened. On some days there are more men at the front than women, and on other days, it’s the reverse.

Most of my life has been spent in Gurdwaras run by Punjabis, where participation from women is restricted. Maybe I come from a small country called Malaysia and we are just an insignificant third-world nation. Maybe India doesn’t count cos gender is an even more complicated issue there. Maybe I just haven’t been to enough progressive Gurdwaras in other countries. Or maybe, just maybe, this is a real thing. Just maybe.

Prahlaad’s mother watched all this, and hoped that he noticed too. Maybe then he will remember that in 1699, a woman poured sweetness into the Birth of the Khalsa, and after that she didn’t just disappear. Her daughters rose after her, and continue to hold up half the Nishaan.

Thank you, Guru Ji, for raising your daughters to stand mighty tall. Thank you, Siri Singh Sahib Ji, for reminding us that we are strong as steel.

Happy Vesakhi, dear ones.

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