In Awe of the Panj Pyaaray

Arvinder Kaur Goomer | Beltsville, Maryland

It was an important day for us. In a world of traditions and age-old customs, five stood tall, majestic in their kaysgees and strongly held their Kirpans, leading us in procession for Vaisakhi.

Panj Pyrayaan I watched as proud mothers, aunts and grandmothers, wiped tears and hugged each other as they proudly marched behind the panj pyaarayaan. Did we break away from tradition and take the sanctity of the chosen Five away? Did we take away from those valiant Spirits? Did we just disregard three hundred years of history? Why is it important for us to have women represent the panj pyaaray? Does it really matter that we will physically replace a tradition? For unless the true spirit of gender equality, in all its aspects is accepted, gestures like these are meaningless. That fateful day, our Guru asked for a sacrifice. He asked five times, and five men stood up to offer their lives to him. The congregation consisted of women and men. I wonder if any women had stood up would Guru sahib have said No? I wonder what stopped the women from standing up, for we are a courageous lot. I only wish to see us have the opportunity to represent your community in every form. I know perhaps this Pandora's box will take a lot to be closed, but I hope it never will be. I am glad that while it made so many people proud, it also upset a few. Without open, honest debates, change cannot be wrought. Change must be actively sought, argued upon and the status quo challenged to ensure that we never become complacent, content in our age-old beliefs, out of touch with reality and drifting away from the true teachings of our Gurus. Did you just set a precedent? Break all rules? Suddenly ensure respect for all women? Perhaps none of the above. But today, you looked glorious, you stopped people in their tracks, you opened dialog and challenged them to think. I am overwhelmed by the strong emotions it evoked in everyone. And, if tears were shed, know in your hearts that they bore witness to an evocative moment. _________________________ The author is a personal banker and mother of two teenage boys. She also is an activist, particularly for Sikh kids, and a budding writer. Commentaries are the opinions of the authors, and not necessarily that of Sikh News Network.

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