Guru Granth Sahib on Adornment

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SGGS on make-up

There is some confusion within the Sikh community on whether a woman (or for that matter, a man) is allowed to wear make-up or not and if one is allowed to "dress-up" or "decorate" oneself in expensive embroidered Punjabi salwar kameez, Kurtas, sharwani, etc. The nearest word in Gurmukhi to "makeup" or "dressing-up" is "shegar" (ਸੀਗਾਰ or "sīgĝr") which means "decorate" or "adorn". This article deals with the guidance provided by Guru Granth Sahib and some other Sikh practices. The first thing to note is that if decorating was wrong, then we would not decorate our Guru, the Guru Granth Sahib with such beautiful and expensive rumallas.

What does the Guru say about this matter? It must be noted that there is a fine line drawn on this point in the Holy Scripture and one must be prepared to understand the finer points that are highlighted in the holy text. The Guru clear says that by just decorating oneself, you cannot obtain any long lasting happiness thus:


ਆਸਾ ਮਹਲਾ ੫ ॥

ਜਉ ਮੈ ਕੀਓ ਸਗਲ ਸੀਗਾਰਾ ॥ ਤਉ ਭੀ ਮੇਰਾ ਮਨ੝ ਨ ਪਤੀਆਰਾ ॥
ਅਨਿਕ ਸ੝ਗੰਧਤ ਤਨ ਮਹਿ ਲਾਵਉ ॥ ਓਹ੝ ਸ੝ਖ੝ ਤਿਲ੝ ਸਮਾਨਿ ਨਹੀ ਪਾਵਉ ॥
ਮਨ ਮਹਿ ਚਿਤਵਉ ਝਸੀ ਆਸਾਈ ॥ ਪ੝ਰਿਅ ਦੇਖਤ ਜੀਵਉ ਮੇਰੀ ਮਾਈ ॥੧॥

Āsĝ mehlĝ 5.

Ja­o mai kī­o sagal sīgĝrĝ. Ŧa­o bẖī mėrĝ man na paṯī­ĝrĝ.
Anik suganḝẖaṯ ṯan meh lĝva­o. Oh sukẖ ṯil samĝn nahī pĝva­o.
Man meh cẖiṯva­o aisī ĝsĝ­ī. Pari­a ḝėkẖaṯ jīva­o mėrī mĝ­ī. (1)

Aasaa, Fifth Mehl:

Even though I totally decorated myself, still, my mind was not satisfied.
I applied various scented oils to my body, and yet, I did not obtain even a tiny bit of pleasure from this.
Within my mind, I hold such a desire, that I may live only to behold my Beloved, O my mother. (1)

On the other hand, in the following Shabad, the Guru tells us that if one remembers the Lord all the time (ie: "within whose home the Husband Lord abides"), then he or she will be "totally adorned and decorated" by the Lord. So if you live according to the Waheguru's hukam, then you may decorate yourself as you like. But remember that without the remembrance of the Lord, the "sheegar" (decorations) will bring no happiness or comfort.


ਜਿਸ੝ ਘਰਿ ਵਸਿਆ ਕੰਤ੝ ਸਾ ਵਡਭਾਗਣੇ ॥ਤਿਸ੝ ਬਣਿਆ ਹਭ੝ ਸੀਗਾਰ੝ ਸਾਈ ਸੋਹਾਗਣੇ ॥

ਹਉ ਸ੝ਤੀ ਹੋਇ ਅਚਿੰਤ ਮਨਿ ਆਸ ਪ੝ਰਾਈਆ ॥ ਹਰਿਹਾਂ ਜਾ ਘਰਿ ਆਇਆ ਕੰਤ੝ ਤ ਸਭ੝ ਕਿਛ੝ ਪਾਈਆ ॥੪॥

Jis gẖar vasi­ĝ kanṯ sĝ vadbẖĝgṇė. Ŧis baṇi­ĝ habẖ sīgĝr sĝ­ī sohĝgṇė.

Ha­o suṯī ho­ė acẖinṯ man ĝs purĝ­ī­ĝ. Harihĝʼn jĝ gẖar ĝ­i­ĝ kanṯ ṯa sabẖ kicẖẖ pĝ­ī­ĝ.(4)

Very fortunate is she, within whose home the Husband Lord abides.

She is totally adorned and decorated; she is a happy soul-bride.
I sleep in peace, without anxiety; the hopes of my mind have been fulfilled.
O Lord! When my Husband came into the home of my heart, I obtained everything.(4)

also:

ਫੂਲ ਮਾਲਾ ਗਲਿ ਪਹਿਰਉਗੀ ਹਾਰੋ ॥ ਮਿਲੈਗਾ ਪ੝ਰੀਤਮ੝ ਤਬ ਕਰਉਗੀ ਸੀਗਾਰੋ ॥੨॥
Fūl mĝlĝ gal pahir­ugī hĝro. Milaigĝ parīṯam ṯab kar­ugī sīgĝro.(2)
I will decorate my neck with garlands of flowers.

When I meet my Beloved, then I will put on my decorations.(2)

Other Shabads

1. In this Shabad on page 225, the Guru says that you "may decorate" yourself "with the sixteen adornments, and make" yourself "appear gorgeous, but without meditating on the Lord, there is there is only continual suffering":

ਨੈਨ ਸਲੋਨੀ ਸ੝ੰਦਰ ਨਾਰੀ ॥ ਖੋੜ ਸੀਗਾਰ ਕਰੈ ਅਤਿ ਪਿਆਰੀ ॥ ਬਿਨ੝ ਜਗਦੀਸ ਭਜੇ ਨਿਤ ਖ੝ਆਰੀ ॥੩॥
Nain salonī sunḝar nĝrī. Kẖoṛ sīgĝr karai aṯ pi▫ĝrī. Bin jagḝīs bẖaje niṯ kẖu▫ĝrī. (3)
I may have a beautiful woman with fascinating eyes;

she may decorate herself with the sixteen adornments, and make herself appear gorgeous. But without meditating on the Lord of the Universe, there is only continual suffering. (3)

So just decorating oneself, wearing great clothes and wear the most amazing makeup, without remembering the Lord will only bring suffering. So if you do wear the most latest fashion and the best garments that are available, don't expect these to give you even a little happiness in the long term! These things only boost your ego and give you a temporary lift; as soon as you see someone else wear a better design, you will feel deflated and dejected. Real happiness lies elsewhere and not in these ego-enhancing devises.


2. In this Shabad on page 394, the Guru says that the Lord, my beloved Husband, himself has decorated the Guru thus:

ਮੀਠੀ ਆਗਿਆ ਪਿਰ ਕੀ ਲਾਗੀ ॥ ਸਉਕਨਿ ਘਰ ਕੀ ਕੰਤਿ ਤਿਆਗੀ ॥ ਪ੝ਰਿਅ ਸੋਹਾਗਨਿ ਸੀਗਾਰਿ ਕਰੀ ॥ ਮਨ ਮੇਰੇ ਕੀ ਤਪਤਿ ਹਰੀ ॥੧॥
Mīṯẖī ĝgi­ĝ pir kī lĝgī. Sa­ukan gẖar kī kanṯ ṯi­ĝgī. Pari­a sohĝgan sīgĝr karī. Man mėrė kī ṯapaṯ harī.(1)
The Order of my Husband Lord seems so sweet to me. My Husband Lord has driven out the one who was my rival.

My Beloved Husband has decorated me, His happy soul-bride. He has quieted the burning thirst of my mind.(1)

Real peace and happiness is obtained by remembering Lord and adjusting to his Hukam and quenching the ever increasing thirst of the mind.


3. In this Shabad on page 929, the Guru says that all his necklaces, hair-ties, decorations and adornments (ie. make-up) are singing the glorious praises of the Lord.

ਸਭਿ ਕਾਮ ਪੂਰੇ ਮਿਲਿ ਹਜੂਰੇ ਹਰਿ ਚਰਣ ਸੇਵਕਿ ਸੇਵਿਆ ॥ ਹਾਰ ਡੋਰ ਸੀਗਾਰ ਸਭਿ ਰਸ ਗ੝ਣ ਗਾਉ ਅਲਖ ਅਭੇਵਿਆ ॥
Sabẖ kĝm pūrė mil hajūrė har cẖaraṇ sėvak sėvi­ĝ. Hĝr dor sīgĝr sabẖ ras guṇ gĝ­o alakẖ abẖėvi­ĝ.
All my desires have been fulfilled, meeting the Lord face-to-face; I am His servant, I serve at His feet.

My necklaces, hair-ties, all decorations and adornments, are singing the Glorious Praises of the unseen, mysterious Lord.

When you accept that the blessings are all due to the Lord then let all your decorations, the make-up that you put on and the beautiful clothes that you wear sing only His praises. Remember the Lord has blessed you these gifts!

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