The Wolf has, made his first howl. His presence shocked me not, Watch and wait I will. Patience, belief and reason, These are my shields. Oh Wolf, I hear you howl
This is an old piece which I wrote over 25 years ago. I was attending a university conference where students across the UK came together to talk about their faith experiences. Share stories, engage in Q&A sessions. The subject of hair came up. A student stood up and asked panel, how do we stop the big bad wolf ? He was referring to Sikhs who kept uncut hair. The symbol of hair (Kesh in Panjabi) forms part of one of the 5ks in Sikhism. For this student the wolf is temptation, influence. I remember coming away and writing this the next day. For anyone who wants to practice their faith fully, across any religion, we have to deal with the wolf every day. The power rests in the individuals hands whether they let the wolf through the door.
On this day, 13th April, millions of Sikhs across the globe like myself, will celebrate Vaisakhi. This day marks a very special event in the calendar of so many of us.
What is Vaisakhi
The Sikh faith was started by Guru Nanak Dev Ji in the 16th century. Based on simple principles, he preached the message One God. After leaving his body for heavenly abode, nine Guru’s succeeded thereafter, each shaping the very core of Sikhism to what it is today. The 10th and final human form Guru, Guru Gobind Singh Ji created the Khalsaon 13th April 1699 through an initiation ceremony. If you’ve met a Sikh before you may have noticed a Turban and unshaved hair. These are just two of the five symbols that were gifted to the faithful. This era was besot with war and oppression, and so the vision behind this historic event was to create a mindset amongst Sikhs of Saint and Soldier. Guru Gobind Singh ji insisted that a Sikh must be able to remain calm, negotiate and show diplomacy in all strands of life. However a Sikh must also be ready to defend themselves and those being oppressed, regardless of race and background. And so we celebrate this turning point in our faith each year. Guru Gobind Singh Ji was a great visionary, a poet, skilled in art of war and tactics and ahead of his time.
Normal practice proceeds that the weekend that follows 13th April, communities across the world partake in a street procession. I live in Kent (UK) and have been attending the procession since I was a kid. It’s grown in numbers, last year around 5000 people attended, maybe more. It is also well attended by other non Sikh communities.
Stay home for now
For the first time in our local history, and probably elsewhere, there will be no street procession. But in the safety of everyone this is the right thing to do. While we will all remain in our homes, technology will play a huge role. Anyone wishing to be part of the event will be able to view live streaming from our local temple, and will also include Vaisakhi messages from all. The key thing is to keep everyone involved and be safe.