Monday, October 2, 2006

What is the right protocol on swimming for Sikhs?

I was really saddened when I read the following news of these teenagers drowning. As a parent myself of a teenager, I can not even imagine what the families must be going thru at their loss. For a casual and expereinced swimmers, it is hard to comprehend how tempting that water in a lake, river, pool, canal or at the beach could be to a non-swimmer. It looks so natural, calm, fun, exciting etc. and the feeling of well if other people are doing it, it could not be that hard to swim. The first problem is that those people have learned it and have been practicing it for a while and secondly, the water usually looks very calm at the top of a flowing river or canal, but there are very strong hidden currents underneath. Lakes and ocean beaches have their own unique dangers like waves crashing without warning and sudden drops in the news story. I learned to swim in Toronto in late teens and I am glad I did and it was learnt the hard way (i.e. jumping in without reading the deep end or shallow end water marks of the pool, encouragement from class buddies them assuming I knew how to swim but I without knowing how to swim and finally being dragged out with a pole by the teacher).

This whole thing brings a few questions in my mind that I would like to ask the cyber sangat i.e. doing sports activites with turban. I am still not clear as to what is right thing to do and what does Guru Granth Sahib say about this? From the news story, it seems like that they swam with their turbans on. It has been taught that Sikhs have to keep their heads covered with dastaar but I have also met Sikhs that are okay to take it off and tie their hair in back like a pony tail or on top like a jhoora or put on a tight swim cover during a swimming activity etc. Afterall, turban comes off when we wash our hair, dry our hair, during sleep and some contact sports activities.
I wish some Gursikh would tell me what the rigth protocol is on taking turban off? When is it okay or not okay? My feeling is that opinions would differ, but I would like to know for my sake anyways. Do I just follow what I feel is okay to do. To the parents with little kids out there, please enroll your sons and daughters in swim lessons early on like 3-5 years old, then at least they have the necessary skill to swim if needed, it is nice to have an extra tool in your toolbox of learning such as reading, writing, music, gatka etc. and the rest is in the hands of Akal Purukh Waheguru! My sympathies are with the families of these youngsters. Bhul chuk maaf!!OpenDocument

And! I forgot to mention the most important thing, please wear the "Life Jacket"


Anonymous James said...

i hate to admit this but i am here to advertise my blog (in a kind of new age jehovas witness kinda way) 'cause it doesn't have as much of a readership as i would like at the moment; so if you have time please check it out:

2:49 PM, October 02, 2006  
Blogger Prabhu Singh said...

Manjit Singh Ji,
my feeling is the protocol regarding everything for a Sikh is to follow your own consciousness. If your intent is to live in the will of God, as a Gurmukh, the Guru will guide you. The Guru guides us each differently and that is why some find the Guru early and some find the Guru late. Why some study and master a particular part of the Dharma and others study and master another part. Why some become Braham Gyani and why some fake it their whole lives.
I usually don't swim with a turban, it is really the only time outside of my house that I wear my hair out. Though the last time I went swimming (actually this summer) I decided to wear a patka. I didn't tie it real tight and it eventually came off, but it was very convenient for keeping my hair out of my face and under control. My feeling now is to utilize the patka more often :-)
Last year I first learned the stereo type that 'Indians' can't swim. I started asking my Indian friends and nobody knew how to swim. Then I started seeing articles in various news sources about Indians drowning. I don't know how, but I've come across at least three articles in the last year about Indian people playing around in water and getting in too deep and drowning. I think it is important to wear life jackets at the lake and to try and learn how to swim. Though we cannot challenge when God calls us back.

12:25 PM, October 03, 2006  
Blogger Sifar said...

I believe that Guru Granth Sahib jee gives us direction by the virtue of the Shabads of various Gurus we have... I dont believe there is anything written (anywhere) on protocol on how Sikhs should dress (for various occassions like sports etc...). It will all depend on person to person. I have seen and known sports persons who will cover their head while playing either with a patka, or tie a gol dastar which is shorter and lighter than the regular paag. I believe "rehatnama" will give you some information on a general dress code for Sikhs.

1:41 PM, October 03, 2006  
Blogger SikhsRus said...

thanks James!

Prabhu Singh Ji - I agree with you on following one's own consciousness and Guru guiding each one of us differently and at different points and places in life. That's kind of funny! "Indians can't Swim". I heard that in Espanola this year too. I wonder where this is coming from. I had heard of other ones like 7-11, Cab drivering, Truck driving, liquor store, gas stations, engineers, doctors, nerds etc. But this swimming this thing was new for me. I think it may have something to do with the terrain we come from. If India was an island like some other places such as Korea, Bengladesh, Indonesia, Ireland, England, Carribeans, Jamaica etc. they probably would have been better at it. I haven't been to southern India like Tamilnadu, Kerela etc. but I would think those guys probably are better swimmers than us northern Indians. I wonder what other stereotypes are out there? Let's see:

Indians can't Ski
Indians can't roller blade
Indians can't cook Spaghetti

of course I am just kidding! and these are just made up. Personally, I think any body is capable of doing anything if they put their heart and mind into it. Yesterday, we had some vendors come in for some wireless equipment installation inside tunnels for coverage. One of the companies was an Indian telecom company that was started in 1970's. The thing I was most impressed about was that their equipment had features and capabilites that the well known American wireless and telecom competitors had not yet even implemented in their equipment. We would have thought it otherwise. If the contract was out for bid right now they sure would have gotten it, but it is still in preliminary stages won't be ready till 2009. I guess I went off the subject here, thank you for the great insight on swimming and following my consciousness.

Sifar Ji - I am sorry, I may have been misunderstood here when I said what Guru Granth Sahib says. You are right about Shabads and about no mention of how Sikhs should dress.

8:45 AM, October 04, 2006  
Blogger Sikhi Seeker said...

I have nothing to contribute to this post - but it for sure was interesting to read. What an amazing confirmation in the Hukamnama after this - Waheguru answers our queries in different ways...

I really hope Waheguru brings peace to the families who face such grand loss.

8:21 AM, October 06, 2006  
Blogger SikhsRus said...

I disagree and think you have lot to contribute. Just saying that you have nothing to contribute say a lot. You know I was thinking, why don't I see very many articles on issues that affect Sikh women. Not that I give importance to swimming as a sports event, but it is important skill to have for survival in water for both Sikh men and woman. When I was doing this post, I also thought as to how would a Sikh woman train for swimming if she were to take part in a swim competition? Personally, I hate for them to be left out or be treated unfairly in the World. Only they know and can tell as to what would be proper or not proper as to how issues like this should be addressed? Traditionally, subjects like this are kind of taboo in Punjabi culture but they are important not for sports sake, but for living in this World sake. I can't yet figure out why there are not very many Sikh woman writers, poets, singers, granthis, engineers, scientists, mathematicians etc.
Is it the lack of resources or are their voices not being heard or they have given up or something else? Why don't Sikh women say or write more about swimming or other issues that affect them? Not that we care, but It would also show the Western Christian World that Sikhism is as liberal, righteous and free if not more than what they claim it to be. Sorry, I hate to use terms like Christian, Western etc. and feel like I am generalizing.

10:23 AM, October 06, 2006  

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