The journey to follow the Sikh way of life is different for every follower, and so was for Manjyot Kaur. Her spiritual journey along the path of Sikhism did not begin with her birth, having been born into a family of another faith. 

About Manjyot Kaur 

Manjyot Kaur, the Assistant Editor and a regular columnist for the online magazine, has established herself as a prominent writer in the Sikh community. Her insightful book reviews and essays have gained recognition not only on Sikh-related websites but also in esteemed publications such as Nishaan, The Sikh Review, and Abstracts of Sikh Studies. Furthermore, her writings have been utilized in the development of materials for "Enlighten," the North American Library Project of the Sikh Coalition. Manjyot Kaur's contributions to the field have solidified her position as a respected voice in Sikh literature and scholarship.

Manjyot, who grew up in the vibrant city of New York, discovered that the turbaned and bearded gentlemen she encountered so often were followers of a distinct religion called Sikhi. This unique faith, often referred to as Sikhism by its adherents, originated in the Punjab region of India during the 15th century, distinguishing itself from Hinduism and Islam.

Little did Manjyot imagine that several decades later, when she reached her mid-40s, she would wholeheartedly embrace Sikhi and become one of the 25 million members of the Sikh faith worldwide. This remarkable transformation brought her immense joy, leading her to join the ranks of believers in the fifth-largest religion on the planet.

Acquaintance with Sikhism 

Manjyot's "date with destiny" arrived unexpectedly one evening while she was conducting research on a topic of interfaith significance through the Internet. The moment she encountered Sikhi, it was an instant and profound connection. She felt a magnetic pull, both intellectually and emotionally.

As Manjyot delved deeper into her exploration of Sikhi, she found herself captivated by a spiritual path that was far from a mere collection of rigid rules. Instead, it revealed itself as a vibrant and timeless journey, embracing universality.

Similar to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, Sikhi stands firmly as a monotheistic religion. Yet, it was the three pillars of the Sikh faith that truly resonated with Manjyot. The idea of constantly holding God in one's thoughts and heart, earning an honest living, and sharing resources with those in need struck her as a simple, rational, and profoundly relevant "blueprint for everyday life." It presented a guide for active engagement and full contribution to contemporary society.

Teachings of Sikhi

Manjyot found strong connections with the core teachings of Sikhi, which refers to God as Waheguru. These teachings emphasize that Waheguru is an omnipresent and all-encompassing Deity, transcending any specific creed, nation, race, color, or gender. Manjyot found solace in the belief that human life offers a unique opportunity to recognize and nurture the Divine Light that exists within all creations.

One particularly revolutionary aspect of Guru Nanak's teachings, the founder of Sikhism, was the concept of complete gender equality. This concept, reinforced by the nine Gurus who followed him, brought Manjyot immense satisfaction as a woman. She discovered that Sikhi grants both men and women the same status before God, equal access to scriptures, and equal opportunities to hold positions of religious and political authority within the Sikh community.

Additionally, Manjyot was greatly inspired by the emphasis placed on selfless volunteer service in Sikhi. This principle resonated deeply with her, as she found it compelling to witness the importance placed on serving others without any expectation of personal gain.

Manjyot's Journey of Spiritual Awakening 

As her initial attraction blossomed into a profound spiritual journey, Manjyot delved deep into the beautiful poetic verses of the Guru Granth Sahib. This sacred compilation of writings holds the revered status of a living and eternal Guru, as declared by the tenth and final human Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, in 1708.

Exploring the mesmerising scriptures and striving to incorporate their teachings into her life brought Manjyot a profound connection with the Divine like never before. She realized that she had reached one of those rare "points of no return" that arise only a few times in a lifetime: her journey towards becoming a Sikh had begun.

To forge a bond that extended beyond the personal and internal, Manjyot recognized the need for a solemn and public commitment. Her longing to become a legitimate and recognized member of the Sikh community, intricately woven into its rich history and heritage, finally came to fruition on an April morning. With the Grace of Waheguru, the day before Vaisakhi, a significant holiday commemorating the establishment of the Sikh nation by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699, Manjyot was formally initiated into her chosen faith.

Challenges faced by Sikh Women 

While there are many joys in being a Sikh woman, there are also numerous challenges that come along. To truly honour the Gurus' teachings of complete gender equality, Sikh women must remain vigilant against any forms of discrimination or encroachment upon their rights. These challenges can arise from traditional Punjabi or Indian sub-continental cultural norms, as well as from other sources.

One important aspect of addressing these challenges is to find effective ways to educate the general public about Sikhi and the distinctive physical appearance of Sikhs. This is crucial in countering misinformation and intolerance that often lead to bullying of Sikh schoolchildren and cases of mistaken identity. Unfortunately, especially after the tragic events of 9/11, where turban-wearing Sikhs were wrongly equated with terrorists, these misconceptions have resulted in violent and even deadly consequences.

Living a life as a committed Sikh involves viewing the body as a divine creation and maintaining all hair intact. This commitment requires embracing concepts of beauty that may not always align with society's conventional notions of femininity. By upholding these principles, Sikh women challenge societal norms and promote a broader understanding of beauty and acceptance.

Sikh women experience both joy and challenges in their journey. They must remain vigilant against discrimination, educate others about their faith, and embrace the power, grace and dignity inherent in the name given to all Sikh females - Kaur, meaning ‘princess’. 

With utmost pride, Manjyot says “I feel truly blessed to be one!”


*Based on an article written by Manjyot Kaur, published in Washington Post on 21st August 2008 

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