Kaur. The surname of every sikh woman. The surname that literally means princess – indicating that we all have a high status and position in the society, we all have equal rights, we all are princesses – what a wonderful surname to have!
Guru Gobind Singh Ji gave this surname to all sikh women who took Amrit (got baptized), to indicate that a woman is no lesser than a man, a Singh, which literally means lion. The Kaur should have equal rights as a man. But why then didn’t guruji give the same surname to women and men? I read somewhere that guruji appreciated that there are some biological differences between women and men, hence a different surname to both genders. However, all the gurus acknowledged that a sikh woman has the same rights a sikh man, even in Guru Granth Sahib Ji, there are a couple of shabads showing that the gurus were against the unfair treatment to women those days in India, and elsewhere in the world. An example is the shabad soh kio manda akhiya jit jame rajaan – Why call her bad, she who gives birth to kings?
But is a Kaur only a princess? Was that the only reason behind this announcement of Guru Gobind Singh Ji? No. The surname Kaur is a symbol for something more. Something great. In the time of guruji all the Indian residents were living in a castesystem. Their surname indicated which caste they were from, and some casts were looked as more superior than others. To marry a person with a different caste was looked upon like a sin – many families abadoned their kids if they had an intercaste marriage. Our gurus were against this – they said that God looks alike upon all and the same attitude should the mankind adopt. This is a reason they gave women the surname Kaur and men the surname Singh, which indicated that everyone is equal, and there is no such as castesystem. Hence, our gurus were not against intercaste marriage. So the surname Kaur indicates that she is not to be called inferior to someone else – she belongs to no caste and beliefs in equality.
Another advantage that follows from the surname Kaur, is that when you get married, your surname doesn’t change. In India there is a custom that when a daugther is married, she adopts the surname of her husband. Why is it that the woman has to change her surname, and not the man? Doesn’t that indicate inequality? Our gurus changed this inequality by giving us a permanent surname.