What is Vaisakhi?

The ignorant call them 'Bengali', some find it funny to address them as 'dut'.

Punjabi is the race, while Sikhism is the religion. Sikhs are those practicing Sikhism.

But some know them as Mr Singh - the respectable doctor, the good lawyer, the smart engineer, the trustworthy policeman / 'jaga', the reliable milkman or the money-lender you can count on.

Despite the stereotyping, not many truly understand Mr Singh and Ms Kaur in Malaysia.

And just because they wear a turban and keep long beards, it does not mean they are linked to any terrorist group.

Here's a brief explanation about the community:

Punjabi & the language -- Research shows modern day Punjab (both in India and Pakistan) was the origin of an Indo-Aryan subgroup. Punjab means land of the five rivers (literally) while Punjabi is classed as one of the Indo-Aryan languages, according to this article.

Vaisakhi -- Vaisakhi (also spelled Baisakhi) is the festival which celebrates the founding of the Sikh community known as the Khalsa. It is celebrated on April 14 each year. Read more here.

Sikhism --  Among the basic beliefs of Sikhs are "believe in one God, he is the same for all people of all religions" and "equality of all people, despite race, religion and gender". For more visit this link.

Five Ks -- The turban and bangle has a symbolic meaning. It forms five of the Sikh symbols - Kesh, Kirpan, Kara, Kangha, Kachera. Read more about the five Ks here.

Gurdwara -- Place of worship.

Guru Granth Sahib -- The holy scripture consisting 1,430 pages and 5,864 verses.

Food -- Capati, dhal, saag (mashed spinach), yogurt, ladu, jalebi, among others. Not all Sikhs these days, especially those in Malaysia, consume milk, ghee and sweet food items on a daily basis, contrary to popular believe. We don't want to be visiting the National Heart Institute (IJN) every day.

Singh -- Is derived from the Sanskirt word Sinha which means lion. In short, Singh is King.

Kaur -- Means princess. It's pronounced as 'kor' and now 'ka-ur' or 'cow'.

Hope this clarifies doubts regarding the community.

To my Sikh brothers and sisters, here's wishing you Happy Vaisakhi. To the rest, go try some capati and saag or some sweet jalebi. They are to die for.

HD says: And I'll be working today and tomorrow...


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