Posted by: Singh Is King | Saturday, August 4, 2007

Bogey Men

Columnists

Bogey Men

by TEJWANT SINGH

Recently, Annika Sorenstam, the most successful woman golf player of today, started on her first tee at the Bank of America Colonial (dubbed as the “Bank of Annika Colonial” by her fellow competitors, who happen to be all men).

A first for her, she is also the first woman to play in a PGA tour – the exclusive boys’ club.

Around approximately the same time, Mejindarpal Kaur, along with other sisters of the Sikh faith, tried to do seva in the Harmandar Sahib alongside their brethren, the male sevadars.

They were the first women known to have challenged what is now perceived to also have turned into an exclusive boys’ club.

Photos: Top of this page – Bhai Joginder Singh, Jathedar of the Akal Takht, on the golf links; photo by Gurumustuk Singh (www.sikhphotos.com). Bottom of this page – golfer Kiran Matharu. Second from bottom – Hari Bhajan Kaur, by Gurumustuk Sing

The former confrontation – on the golf links – went peacefully. However, lots of bushy eyebrows were seen racing northwards on the lads’ foreheads.

The latter incident, an attempt to perform simple seva at the Durbar Sahib, ended in chaos – pushing, shoving and jostling – as if an invasion of an incurable disease had fallen on the boys.

The PGA (Professional Golfers’ Association) is the boys’ club of the sport. The LPGS (Ladies Professional Golf Association) is the girls’. But there is no law that forbids either men or women from participating in both tours. Personally, I would enjoy seeing guys in real skirts, not just kilts, competing in the LPGA.

Harmandar Sahib, the most sacred shrine in Sikhdom, has four doors, one pointing in each direction, thus unequivocally declaring that all of humankind, regardless of gender (or even sexual orientation), hue, nationality, race or ethnicity, creed or faith, can visit it and participate in every activity, including the performance of seva – a sign of equality and a basic tenet of Sikhi.

As a matter of fact, it is the first religious site in the world where all who enter the precincts have to climb down, rather than up, in order to visit it – a sign of humility, another basic tenet of Sikhi!

Vijay Singh, the third-ranked PGA player, positioned himself smack dab in the crosshairs of the debate over Annika Sorenstam’s participation in the LPGS Tour when, after winning the Wachovia Championship, he told the Associated Press that he hoped she would miss the cut. He also added that he would withdraw if paired with her at the Bank of America Colonial.

He ended up pulling out from the tournament.

My insecure brethren in Amritsar say that ishnaan seva in the Durbar Sahib, after the Guru Granth Sahib is taken away for its nightly sukhaasan, is done by men in their kaccheras, which women cannot be expected to do.

Pray, since when did the kacchera, one of the five kakaars, turn into a weapon and an object of intimidation and suppression, a symbol of oppression and exclusion? Why can’t men wear more discreet vestments to do seva? Is it against gurmat to do so?

Nick Price, last year’s champion, publicly vented his ire over Annika being invited to play at the Colonial.

My brethren in Amritsar have also expressed their unhappiness, anger, and even hatred, towards our sisters who wish to serve at the Golden Temple, as is their fundamental and God-given, Guru-proclaimed right.

Why? Because it is fair play.

The boys of the PGA felt Sorenstam’s presence as an invasion into the playground that they had owned since the start of the Association, about a hundred years ago.

Our Amritsari brothers, who currently do seva at the Harmandar Sahib, have come to feel that it is their birthright, handed down to them on a platter by their forefathers.

Which forefathers? Whose forefathers?

It is a shame that they have forgotten the basic essence of Sikhi, that one is not born a Sikh, but earns the honour … and becomes one.

They also forget that, as long ago as the fifteenth century, Guru Nanak gave birth to Sikhi on the foundation of equality.

The fact that women are not as physically strong as men, makes the boys of the PGA feel more insecure and fearful. What if women like Annika do better than them at the Tour? Then they will be left behind, which would prove shameful and unacceptable! They don’t want to be second fiddles … especially to the “weaker” sex!

Our sisters in Sikhi may not have the bodily strength their brothers possess. However, their Sikhi Spirit is inferior to none. They just want the equal opportunity to do seva, as prescribed by our Guru.

No more, no less.

You go, Sikh women! The Guru is walking alongside you on the fairway of equality. Unfortunately, some of our fellow seekers – some brethren – are dragging their feet by not following gurbani.

In the end, gurmat will prevail with a “hole in one”, over manmat, which can do no more than make mere bogies!

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