I choose to wear a Mala. I have always had a connection to it and it reminds me of my Grandma, who was Catholic and has now since passed, she carried a rosary. I also wear it because I enjoy the grounded feeling it gives me. Recently, while volunteering at a local Langar for needy and homeless people, the Sikh man running the Langar told me I shouldn't be wearing my Mala because of it's ties to Hinduism and ritualistic counting. I felt discriminated against, and felt as if I was being judged and told I wasn't Sikh enough. Is it against Sikhism to wear a Mala, even If I do not use it for meditation? Please enlighten me on my choice of wearing a simple beaded necklace.
Guru Granth Sahib Ji instructs us how to be One with God. Guru Granth Sahib Ji does not instruct us what to wear as it is irrelevant on our journey to become One with God. Guru Ji does mention that by practicing rituals, wearing Mala (Rosary Beads), having Tilak on forehead, and other customs, one cannot attain spirituality and be One with God.
Guru Granth Sahib Ji mentions 'Mathay Tilak Hath Mala Bana, Logan Raam Khilona Jana', meaning wearing a tilak on forehead and having a mala in the hand, people consider God as a toy. Further means that by wearing a mala and having tilak people pretend to be spiritual and play with the notion of God.
Spirituality does not come by attending a monastery, wearing mala, having tilak, shaving your head, or going on renunciation. Spirituality is only attained by meditation. Fellow Sikh might have had a wrong impression when he saw the Mala, he might have thought that you believe that having a mala makes you more spiritual or will assist you in being One with God. You can tell him that you do understand that only mediation helps you become One with God, not any article of clothing and that the mala is a token from your grandmother and it reminds you of her. Mala is a part of a memory of your grandmother and not a medium to become spiritual.