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Another Milestone: The Terrible Two's

by I.J. SINGH is hitting two. 

What could one say to a two-year-old?  And then, between what one could and what one should, lies the whole wide world. 

I was present at its birth and, though not quite a midwife to it, have arguably been a fairly active contributor to its presence on the Web.  So, I have had a hand in nurturing this baby.

And then my thoughts go to my grand-daughter, Inara Piar (Ippi), who turned two this month, just over a week ago.

I have known both and Ippi all their young lives, and many parallels define my relationship with each.

Each has sometimes been a little less than squeaky clean; each sometimes smells - literally or figuratively.  But no matter how messy her little fingers are or how runny her nose, when Ippi makes a beeline for me with a crooked smile and delighted yells, I wouldn't want her to wait and first clean up.

In two short years, I have become totally and incurably addicted to Sikhchic, just as little Ippi has me wrapped around her little finger.  She knows it, as do the readers of Sikhchic.  Often, and sometimes more than once a day, I have to get my fix of both; neither is ever very far from my mind.

Yet there are times that I wonder: where is this Sikhchic coming from?  Sometimes postings on it seem like utter nonsense.  And Ippi, of course, talks nonsense with me all the time. Her vocabulary is extensive and growing by the hour, but the language remains largely alien to me, as yet.  Nevertheless, the communication in both cases makes sense at its own level and is more welcome that pure logic ever was.

Culturally, we are conditioned to look at two years of age as the time of the "Terrible Twos."  Yes, there are times when Ippi, having discovered the power of "No," practices her new-found skill with great gusto, energy and abandon, and to distraction - not hers. 

Surely, there are readers on Sikhchic that I find singularly hard-headed, just because they refuse to acknowledge the logic and wisdom of my unique brand of commonsense.  Then I realize that the only thing that is common about commonsense is that it is so uncommon.  And I don't always have it.   

Both Sikhchic and Ippi seem to have great vision, even if seemingly muddled at times; the goals and methods remain works in progress, as all life is.  Both are the new kids on the block, with the energy and clear-eyed determination, if not always the sense, to define where they want to go and how to get there. 

A two-year-old is expected to stumble.

Sikhchic, since its inception, has served to increasingly knit us Sikhs worldwide in a complex but connected web, even while many of us continue to have diverging opinions.  It is an ambitious agenda, but this variety means that our tapestry is indeed that much richer.

I have often offered the analogy of a marathon race as the metaphor of our journey as Sikhs.  We, who call ourselves Sikh, are all on the same path that defines this journey, but we are not all at the same place on the path at any given time. 

So we will encounter all types of Sikhs on the trek - from the amritdhari who doesn't just look like one, but lives the mandated lifestyle.  Then there is the Sikh who looks like one, but has little idea of what it means to be one.  And let's not forget the Sikh who has but a very flimsy notion of or connection to the history, traditions and teachings of Sikhism, except perhaps that he might have been born as one. 

And how can one ignore the fact that there are many who will not fit any of these categories very neatly.  Square pegs in round holes, are they? 

And amidst all this, a forum such as Sikhchic must navigate its way and find a place for all these Sikhs.

I also submit to you the metaphor of a wheel to consider.  At the hub of a wheel is the center that holds it all together.  That is the axle and there stand those who truly are the keepers of the faith.  So dismiss them not as irrelevant to our times; never label them as fundamentalists or fanatics.  If they do not stand true to the fundamentals of the faith, the center will not hold, and then the wheel will self-destruct. 

The spokes - various traditions and movements within Sikhism - continue to connect the center with the rim at the periphery.  The many and varied religions of the world are like the wheels, their peripheries (rims) meeting those of others, and sometimes even overlapping in practices, if not in belief.  Where rims overlap, they represent mixed practices, perhaps diluted teachings and rituals. 

This, it seems to me, is true of all religions. While all of us rue the weakened and adulterated realities at the periphery, we sometimes chafe at the rigidity that often appears as fanaticism at the central axle. 

I think we need to be more forgiving of what is at the periphery while we continue, at the same time, to nurture and treasure the center that guards the flame.

Yet, there are days when I think that those at the hub and those at various points on the peripheral rim are at loggerheads.  They appear like two guys inside a telephone booth, at war with each other - each armed with a razor-sharp dagger, and the will to prevail.

And defining the space for both seems to be the difficult charge of Sikhchic. 

It is like fire-walking.  So the path for Sikhchic is never going to be easy.  Or should I compare it to the art of learning how to play the violin while being on the stage? - painful for both the performer and the listener!  But, nevertheless, essential; may it always remain challenging and interesting. 

Are little people and institutions really so terrible at two?  Surely, these are nothing more than the inevitable growing pains. As they say, "no pain, no gain." 

I marvel at how Ippi changes right in front of my eyes, how she masters new tricks, and how her eyes gleam in triumph when she gets the better of me by one of her clever ruses. 

Similarly, I marvel at how Sikhchic has grown in the variety of issues, people and places that it manages to connect to Sikhi.

I greet Sikhchic two years after its birth with great hope and greater expectation.  If I were to assign it a mission statement, it would be the words attributed to Thomas Mann:

"Even the most contradictory word preserves contact; it is silence that isolates." 

There are many more miles to travel, and many new roads to navigate.  Both Sikhchic and Ippi are moving right along - quite nicely.

December 11, 2008

Conversation about this article

1: Harinder (Bangalore, India), December 11, 2008, 1:07 PM.

Happy Birthday,!

2: Inni Kaur (Fairfield, Connecticut, U.S.A.), December 11, 2008, 3:18 PM.

Happy, Happy Birthday,! May you continue to blossom. May you continue to enrich. May your triumphs be in multitudes. May your failures be scarce. Thank you for listening to our stories. Gur Fateh!

3: Gurmeet Kaur (Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A.), December 12, 2008, 1:19 PM.

A dear Panthic friend brought to my attention a year or so ago, hoping that I would agree with them that this was another website with an anti-Sikh agenda. I was already fed things against it by a few other people also, hence decided to check it out. It took me less than a few clicks to fall for it, instead. I love, for where it truly reflects the diversity of minds, it also refelcts the commonality between the readers and writers alike - the love for life, the love for Sikhi and the love for humanity. I hope it will consider adding an 'Environment/Earth' section; for there is a need for us to be proactive and conscious about visiting our inherently green culture and sharing it with the world.

4: Manjyot Kaur (New York City, U.S.A.), December 12, 2008, 8:04 PM.

Many thanks for your insightful commemoration! Charming little Ippi certainly makes the "Terrible Two's" seem very sweet! Your metaphor of the wheel is indeed well put. When we reflect upon the need for an inclusive attitude towards those with differing levels of Sikh observance, our thoughts often turn first to non-Keshadharis. Let's not forget the need to accord the same respect to those at the other end of the Sikh spectrum. In my opinion, a Sikh who chooses to go about his or her everyday life wearing baana, for example, is as equally deserving of acceptance as a Sikh who chooses to cut his or her hair. Heartiest congratulations to; may it enjoy a long and vigorous life!

5: Amardeep (U.S.A.), December 15, 2008, 10:28 PM.

I know that Ippi is learning day by day. As long as is also learning, it is on the right path. Ippi is beautiful!

6: Bhupinder Singh Ghai (New Delhi, India), December 16, 2008, 7:15 AM.

Congratulations on your Terrific Two's! "You have come a long way, Baby!" ... "But miles to go before I sleep!" It is just amazing that with so many differing opinions on such a vairiety of subjects, thanks to, we have found a platform to express our thoughts. Surely, most of the articles are inspirirng and life changing. Wish you all the best. One suggestion, though. Why don't we have a section where we give suggestions to popularize Sikhi among English-speaking Sikh youth and non-Sikhs? How we can include all of us in the core concepts of Sikhi: Earning an honest living, Meditation, and Sharing with others.

7: Hardeep Singh (Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A.), January 13, 2010, 1:00 AM.

A visionary and pioneering initiative. A great panthic seva by all who started this and who are participating in this movement. Thanks to Gurmeet Bhenji and Dr I.J Singh for introducing this website to sangat members in the Atlanta Metro Area.

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