It was a lovely morning. Birds were chirping, the sun was a bit hazy but the sky was clear. I woke up and went to the kitchen to get some water. I heard some loud sounds outside my house. A lady was speaking loudly to her family in a typical Punjabi accent. She was carrying huge and bulky bags with her. We figured it was the new family that was coming to stay in front of our home.
After breakfast, my mother and I decided to visit the new neighbors. My mother was about to ring the bell but suddenly their teenage son wearing a polka dotted turban came out shouting and then disappeared. We were a bit shocked and decided to go back home. Just then the mother came out. As soon as she noticed us she greeted us formally. She called us inside and was very hospitable. She offered us water and the mothers got talking. In the course of conversation, the mothers got to know about each others family and hometowns. Finally my mother decided to return back home. They hugged each other and said good bye. I was a bit surprised. We hardly knew them.
Next day I went to our new neighbors to share a new recipe that my mother had tried. As I was leaving I saw their 13 year old daughter. I was thankful to God for giving me a friend of my age.6 months passed and our friendship grew stronger. Soon we started spending a lot of time together.
And then on a New Year’s Day, my family decided to visit the temple nearby. As were ready to leave we saw our neighbors leaving for Gurudwara. We greeted each other and decided to go together. We have gone to Gurudwara’s before but this time we experienced a new way of being there. Holy prayers, colorful turbans all over and yummy! hot halva. Well that’s the best part of a Gurudwara according to me (my mouth was watering badly).
After a month or so, my friend and I were coming back home from the market and we saw a temple nearby. I prayed from outside while my friend just stared at me. She did not pray along. When I asked her why was she staring at me she stated “ I am told as per history, Hindu’s have somehow always tried to rule over Sikhs. They have never given Sikhism the respect that it should be given.” I was shocked and confused to hear what she said. She did not say it with any bitterness however she was very hesitant in that moment. I wondered, if she really believe in the negativity of religions or she was just repeating what she had heard / been told.
That night I shared the whole conversation with my mother. My mother believes in peace and humanity and not so much in religion. She tried to help me understand but I did not. Sooner or later I observed that my behavior towards Sikhism has also changed as did my my behavior towards my friend. I didn’t know that my mother was keeping an eye on me.
One night she came and sat beside me. She talked to me and made me realize that I was being offensive towards our neighbors. She shared a few lines with me and I realized my fault.
“Religion is something people follow by birth. It is something which involves lots of prayers, communal works and activities. Communities and people vary but our faith should be one. We are all humans first. Our religion should not act as a barrier in our relationships, our friendships.”
These lines acted as a healer in our friendship. Our friendship is a few years old now. Now every morning we visit the temple and the Gurudwara to worship together. My mother has instilled in me the act of respect for all religions but above all a faith in humanity. No religion is greater than humanity.
Believe in it. Preach it. Practice it.
This story has been shared by a high school student. This is a real life incident that the student had originally penned down and shared at her school as part of the sharing project on culture, religions and faith. At Chatoveracuppa, we have voiced against discrimination of different sorts. Religion is also one of them. We have to teach the future generations to be tolerant to other cultures and beliefs. We have to make them believe in humanity.