I travel to and from work in a public train and I have noticed the following:
1) Monnay who are brought up in Canada are reluctant to associate with Keshadharis.
2) Monnay from India have no problem associating with Keshadharis.
3) Keshadharis from Canada shy away from other keshadharis.
4) Keshadharis from India have no problem associating with other Keshadharis.
Many times it is seen that Singhs from Western countries just walk by you without even making eye contact or giving you a chance to say Fateh. In a train or bus, they avoid sitting with you. There was a time, in 1980s, when a Singh used to come running to greet another Singh but now things have changed here in Toronto. Nevertheless, sometimes you do meet a warm hearted Singh and this meeting makes your day. The other day, I was having a walk in downtown Toronto when a Singh who was standing across the street stopped and loudly said fateh with folded hands. He himself was wearing a White dumaala and baana. It made my day. In olden days Singhs used to meet each other even more warmly.
But for the most part, Sikhs avoid each other. Even if two keshadharis from Canada are sitting together, they are almost always talking in English. Once I happened to sit with two Keshadhari (one of them was an amritdhari) persons who were in their thirties. We were coming back from work and sitting in a public transit train. They both kept talking in English and were talking about Hockey, Baseball and other stuff that goray would talk about. I kept sitting as a spectator and in about 10 minutes my patience ran out. I said to one of them, who was acting like a gora, as follows:
Kulbir Singh: ਭਾਈ ਬੱਸ ਕਰ ਹੁਣ। ਮੇਰੇ ਤਾਂ ਕੰਨ ਦੁਖਣ ਲੱਗ ਪਏ ਹਨ ਗੋਰਿਆਂ ਵਾਲੀ ਗਫਤਗੂ ਸੁਣ ਸੁਣ ਕੇ। (O friend, please cut it out now. My ears have started aching listening about baseball, hockey etc). I must say that two fully keshadhari and amritdhari persons sitting together and talking in English about Baseball and Hockey look very absurd.
Keshadhari Number 1: (Getting defensive), what is wrong with speaking English. I have not read it anywhere in Gurbani that speaking English is wrong.
Kulbir Singh: So you must be speaking English at home with your wife and children, right?
Keshadhari Number 1: Of course I do. I am not comfortable with speaking in Punjabi.
Kulbir Singh: At least, you can converse in Punjabi but I have a feeling that your children cannot speak even one sentence in Punjabi. You probably are able to understand and speak Punjabi since your parents spoke Punjabi to you but your children will not speak Punjabi at all because you don’t speak Punjabi to them.
Keshadhari Number 1: As I said before, I don’t think there is any problem with not speaking Punjabi and speaking English only.
Kulbir Singh: But how will you understand the message of Gurbani then?
Keshadhari Number 1: I have access to translations. This is the new age Singh jee. When we can read translations, then what is the need to learn the old language of Gurbani?
Kulbir Singh: But why do you want to rely on a third person to interpret Gurbani for you? Isn’t it better to get the message of Gurbani directly from Gurbani?
Keshadhari Number 1: It does not matter whether I get the message directly or indirectly. As long as I get the message of Gurbani, I will be fine.
Kulbir Singh: How would you have Anand in Gurbani Kirtan if you don’t understand some Gurbani? How will you or your children understand Katha at Gurdwara Sahib?
He kept arguing like this but in the end, after much persuasion, he agreed that we should understand Punjabi and that learning Punjabi can help us become better Sikhs.
I think it is our duty to learn Punjabi and ensure that our kids learn Punjabi. All our scriptures are in Punjabi and if we don’t learn Punjabi, how will we understand them? Why depend on a third person to interpret simple verses of Gurbani?
Coming back to the subject, I think it is really bad that now-a-days, a Sikh shies away from a Sikh and avoids him. In olden days, Singhs used to long for darshan of other Singhs and this is evident from Gurbani pankitis like:
ਗੁਰਸਿਖਾਂ ਕੀ ਹਰਿ ਧੂੜਿ ਦੇਹਿ ਹਮ ਪਾਪੀ ਭੀ ਗਤਿ ਪਾਂਹਿ ॥
(O Hari, give me the dust of charan of Gursikhs, so that sinner like me may be saved).
ਆਇ ਮਿਲੁ ਗੁਰਸਿਖ ਆਇ ਮਿਲੁ ਤੂ ਮੇਰੇ ਗੁਰੂ ਕੇ ਪਿਆਰੇ ॥
(Come meet me O Gursikh, O my Guru’s beloved, come meet me)