“I think of Kaur as being the daughter of Guru Gobind Singh Ji and as one who upholds the Sikh principles. I didn’t really understand the concept of Kaur until I was given Amrit and was born into Sikhi in 2002. Prior to this, I didn’t know what it meant and its importance was not clear to me. Since then, it has been a learning process in understanding my role in society as a Kaur.
I think a lot of my internal conflicts stem from being the only daughter in my family and growing up as first generation Punjabi in Canada. While trying to maintain Punjabi culture, my parents were unsure of how much western culture we were allowed to observe within our household. My brother and I both had many challenges in understanding our identities within the Canadian culture as a result. Simply by being a girl however, I was placed in a weaker status in Punjabi culture. It was clearly apparent that I was thought of as the weaker gender and constantly told, “girls don’t do this or that etc.” This thought never made sense to me and I struggled with trying to understand it, as there was never an explanation. I had no choice, but to accept it within my family and culture.
I think this is the beauty of the Sikh faith, it is an egalitarian religion and there is a level playing field for both men and women. Really, there should be no status differences between the two genders, but culture and other factors play into things and make us believe otherwise.
While practicing medicine, I see many Sikh women being drawn to me as patients. As a practitioner, I try to use this opportunity to educate them on the importance of taking care of themselves and their bodies. Even with subtle changes like diet adjustments, they can make huge personal strides. As Kaurs, we break down our bodies, on many levels. I think this has to do with never being given any importance or value on nurturing ourselves and it all comes back to that lower status that was deeply imbedded into our psyche. I think this is why I use medicine in this population to convey the importance of self-care and self-worth. Our bodies are vessels that house the light of the Creator. It is so important to respect it. We as Kaurs are blessed with the ability to nurture the creation of a new being and through this process too, we give so much of ourselves. It is the norm for Punjabi women to be the foundation of their families and to continuously give and give until there is a complete mental, emotional and physical breakdown. My hope is that I can create awareness in the younger women to avoid having this breakdown through emphasis in health.
My role as a Kaur…through my medical practice and hobbies is to help other women find their strength, externally and internally. I believe being fit and healthy externally is an extension of internal strength and health and vice versa, they are interrelated. Finding and maximizing your body’s physical potential is instrumental in its functionality and longevity.
I teach fitness class at the Guru Nanak Academy, which is a Sikh community centre with many great services. As a women’s only fitness class, this gives me an opportunity to connect with a community of women on a weekly basis. My teaching style focuses on creating a safe environment where no one is there to compete and no one is being judged. Instead, we empower each other and focus on being strong and push our personal limits. The women in the class share the commonalities of being curious about fitness and for wanting a way to be more control of their health.
I understand all the hats women wear. My life includes parenting my son, running my medical practice, being a supervisor/clinic faculty at the Naturopathic College, coaching Crossfit, leading fitness classes at the GNA and training in Crossfit/Olympic weightlifting. Some have gifts with Gurbani, Kirtan/Katha or Gatka, I have no virtues like that. Where my strength lies is taking all my interests, personal and career focused and empowering other women, that’s my seva as a Kaur.