On that hot summer morning in Amritsar standing on the crowded holy bridge, holding parshad ( a sweet made up of wheat, sugar and ghee) in hands, altogether a different feeling came over me! I felt like a curious teenage girl who needed some answers immediately to steer her life in one direction. As a matter of fact, the bridge was like a bridge of faith for me-faith in my religion, society and myself; and I was crossing it now!
Untill I was in graduation, I wasn’t even sure what the word ‘caste’ even meant. I had grown up in a secular atmosphere which was secure from this dirty politics of Castism. And here I was, standing in one of the most pious of Sikh shrines; asking my Mom “Did our Gurus create Caste along with Sikhism?” ‘No’, immediately came the reply and I almost sighed with relief. The burden of castism did not rest on my community originally at least!
“But, Sikhs also have castes, How did this result then?” I asked. As expected the answer was that Sikhs had emerged from Hindus and the crude age-old system of Castism could not be eradicated from their minds even after conversion. Somehow other issues like idol workship, fasting and other hard core traditions got refined but Manu’s play was still on here. Then came the big question, “what would be your reaction if I marry a Sikh from lower caste?” Almost immediately, my Mom replies that she would not be happy ofcourse! When I challenge her against the basic connotation of our religion, after an abrupt silence she changes her verdict. “If the boy is well educated and has a good job, we would not mind if you get married to a lower caste Sikh” Mom replied. ‘What determines your acceptance of the groom from a lower caste or even a groom from other religion for your own daughter? Society?’ Yes, Mom agreed. “Then what exactly is Society?”
She looks at me curiously as I define society as age old beliefs of people becoming a way of life for the newer generation! But are they all to be followed? Who would judge that? Who is there to challenge the rules or norms which hurt? I keep wondering about the helplessness of man in a society as the Shabad (Hymns being sung in a Gurudwara) “SatGur Mera Poora’ (God is Complete) plays in the back drop of the serene place.