“Growing up, I went to Khalsa school and Kaur was part of my name. I think it was a generational thing with my parents, I never questioned it because I went to a Sikh faith school. As I got older and researched it, I found more of a connection to it. Now, I think of Kaur as a mixture of power, strength, and equality. As I get older, I use Kaur as more revolutionary in terms of standing up for others in need and more importantly for myself.
I think its also important that as I get older, depending on the stage of my life, the meaning of Kaur also changes and I think it will continue to evolve. During my teens, it was about equality, now its about empowerment.
In my late teenage years, I was shaped by societal, cultural and family pressures. For example, I wanted to go abroad for school and was told I couldn’t do that because I was a girl. These types of roadblocks became the norm and deflated by it. I ended up gaining a lot of weight, like 254lbs. The weight made me feel invisible and I felt captive. That captivity was self-induced and I became anti-social by not attending social events like weddings or hiding in my room when people came over to socialize. I also felt, my family was embarrassed to be seen in public with me.
In 2006, I wanted to start a bhangra team and was told this is not something girls do. It was suggested I do giddha and not bhangra. I had to lie to my parents, saying I was attending my brother’s practice. Little did they know I was coaching my brother’s team. I was the only female ever to teach an all guys competitive team and have now done this for 10 years. My love for bhangra helped me show up and helped me to meet lots of people.
It was during a journey to North Carolina, to a competition I was judging that I had a lightbulb moment. I couldn’t buckle my seatbelt and needed an extender, it was at that point, I knew I had to do something about myself. It was my own decision to lose weight, I wasn’t forced.
So in 2013, I sought out help from trainers and nutritionists to help me get on the right path and lost over 100lbs. I felt like the harder the journey got, the closer the walls got. I kept sane by delving into myself, which means also getting into Sikhi and spirituality. I found myself stopping more frequently at the Gurudwara to listen to paat and kirtan. Without realizing it at the time, the power of the scriptures, the words, kept me going.
It took over a year, but I reached my goal. It was such a weird feeling to have people pay attention to me; to be heard and be given a second look.
So much more value had been placed on me and the words I was saying, all because of the way I looked. The biggest lesson for me though was shattering the belief that losing all the weight would solve my problems, but really it was way bigger. For example, people, even my family were now telling me to get out there, meet people, and get married.
For me though, it was about a personal transformation and to pursue goals that I never dreamed of before. I had always wanted to be an entrepreneur and decided to start two businesses: a clothing line and event planning company. The crazy thing is that I feel like I am just beginning this path to removing barriers, self-discovery, and achieving even bigger goals.”