ੴ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ
ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ ਜੀ ਕਾ ਖ਼ਾਲਸਾ, ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ ਜੀ ਕੀ ਫਤਹਿ ॥
Dear Bhenji Neeru Bajwa,
First and foremost, I would like to congratulate you on your successes with the movies Jatt & Juliet, Jihne Mera Dil Lutteya, Mel Karade Rabba, and now Jatt & Juliet 2. As a young Punjabi woman, I can sincerely say that I admire you for having the courage to pursue a career that is considered unconventional—even taboo for some—in our Punjabi culture. I know that many girls and young women look up to you now, with dreams in their own eyes of being on the same silver screen as you. It’s hard for Punjabi girls to come across a role model who is not only successful, but also independent and self-sufficient. Today, you are a woman who has the power to influence and perhaps change what tomorrow looks like for our global community; I think that’s a very honorable position for a woman, it confers responsibility, and also requires meticulous self-analysis on a regular basis.
When you look at yourself in the mirror, Neeru Bhenji, you might see yourself, but when a Punjabi-Sikh woman from a middle-class family, looks in the mirror, she sees you. She sees the personality that she wants to morph into. She wants to imitate your clothes, your speech, your hairstyle and your body language; because for her, that is the definition of a strong, successful, attractive woman.
You are a star, Bhenji. Before the age of technology, lost travelers used stars as a guide in finding the right way. Through the movies that you have starred in, you’ve become a Punjabi icon, as big as Karina Kapoor, Katrina Kaif, Rani Mukherjee, and any other glittering Bollywood names. I didn’t really associate you with any religion until I saw photographs of your Gurbani tattoo. “Jao tao prem khelan ka chaao, sir dhar tale galee meri aao.” If you wish to play this game of love, come to me with your head on your palm, ready to be sacrificed is a close translation of Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s words. It’s been determined that Gurbani tattoos will not be allowed and I respect your written apology to the jathedaars. I believe that you must have Gurbani somewhere in your soul if you chose to have it painfully engraved into your arm.
Bhenji, if we were to count how many Gursikh men, women, and children have died for their faith, it is easy to understand that this Gurbani line is the essence of Sikhi captured in twelve words. Sikh philosophy, history, and lifestyle are all encapsulated in these few words. What a beautiful, powerful composition, don’t you agree?
In Gurdwara Sahib, Guru Granth Sahib Ji, our “Shabad Guru” is regally and respectfully wrapped in beautiful fabrics and is installed on a throne grander than a king’s throne. Gurbani is framed high on our walls, Gutka Sahibs and Pothis are wrapped in crisp cloth in our houses. When we cover our heads to do Paath and take our shoes off to enter a gurdwara, we know we do it out of respect. But what exactly are we respecting? Is it the marble walkways, high-rising walls and pillars, and vast halls? No. Our respect is for the words that came to our Gurus from Waheguru. “Dhur ki bani” is what we bow to.
Neeru Bhenji, though you have apologized, the tattoo is likely to stay on your arm for a very long time. You have Gurbani on your body, going everywhere you go, touching everything you touch. I don’t know about your personal life, but I do hope that you will keep the sacredness of Gurbani in mind while making decisions in your life and career. Gurbani is a part of your body now and I hope that you will also choose to make it a part of your life.
You’re already a star and you’re in a position to change many, many lives; please use that power for the good of our Punjabi culture and Sikh community. Today’s women alone can influence the women of tomorrow—I hope you will allow your talents and prestige to start a revolution that empowers our future and preserves our golden past.
I genuinely apologize if my words have hurt you in any way, my intention in writing this is simply to speak to you as a Punjabi woman, a Sikh, and as a sister. I wish you all the best in all your endeavors.
With much love,
ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ ਜੀ ਕਾ ਖ਼ਾਲਸਾ, ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ ਜੀ ਕੀ ਫਤਹਿ ॥Sikh24 Editors can be reached at email@example.com