Yasvender Singh Rehill received the British Empire Medal

Sikh, Police Officer Yasvender Singh Rehill received the British Empire Medal. The presentation was made by Sirdar Ranbir Singh Rai, (President of the Guru Gobind Singh Gurdwara) at Guru Gobind Singh Gurdwara, Gobind Marg, Bradford. The “Royal”  presentation at Buckingham Palace will take place in 2015.


Other writers, much better qualified than I, will provide details of Yasvender’s achievements and other awards. Here, I wish to remember one particular conversation with this Sikh, whom I am honoured to know.


It was one Saturday in the summer of 2013, whilst experiencing and enjoying the Bradford Faith Trail that I had the pleasure and honour to walk and converse with (off duty, police officer) Yasvender Singh Rehill.


Yasvender-ji is a devout Sikh and I was interested to learn more about his faith. Whilst our conversation included several faith related topics, much was spoken about Sikhi customs and beliefs.


I expressed the view that I see a conflict between the customs attaching to Sikhi (notably the appearance of an adult male – a full beard and long, uncut hair covered by a dastar) as Yasvender-ji has close-cropped hair and is clean-shaven.


It was quite a dilemma, Yasvender-ji explained, to maintain the long hair and beard of his faith, would increase his chances of injury should his duty as a police officer required him to be in a violent situation, if seriously injured how would his wife and family be affected?


A further matter to consider is that no (‘riot gear’) has been made which may be worn over a dastar; therefore, Yasvender-ji would not be able to support his colleagues in crowd control duties.


What should he do? His love for, and the need to care for, his family, and, support to his colleagues was one side of the scale, the other was to remove the customary (and required) outward signs of an adult male Sikh.


The decision was eventually made, out came scissors and razor and the physical appearance became the man we know today.


With all faiths how one conducts oneself, both at worship and towards humanity in general, is much more important than outward appearances.


Changes in physical appearance do not change one’s beliefs, or relations with other people, or how one worships the supreme, unimaginable being, that we, each in our own mother tongue, call God.


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