So I think there’s a typo in this article on NJ.com:Three days of celebration at new temple for Sikhs. Any idea what a brightly colored Jagwinder is? I’d say this is a generally good article, except for a few errors. Mr. Bajwa is quoted as saying Sikhism is basically an offshoot of Hinduism. Though almost anything that appeared in the same region as Hinduism can be ostensibly called an offshoot–I think the term is too heavy to apply to Sikhism. It implies that we take major beliefs from Hinduism and just change a few things here and there, when in fact Sikhs do something completely different. We have our own Scripture, believe in One God, have a unique identity, and foster a radically different world-view.
Great News! The Sikh Coalition Library Project is coming to a library near you! Have you ever been to a library, looked for Sikh books, and found almost nothing? I have! Well, now, for just $165, I can donate 10 books and 2 DVDs to the library of my choice. This is an outstanding program and is a practical way for anyone to make a difference. The hard work in selecting books and DVDs and creating a package for libraries is done–you just need to pony up some cash and pick a library. This is a really outstanding, smart project, and I’m proud to support it.
Divided We Fall is an outstanding movie documenting the American experience shortly after 9/11. It follows the adventure of Valarie Kaur, as she travels America as a girl with a camera documenting the strife and the experiences of Sikh Americans and others in the months following the disaster. It’s a must see and gets a high rating in my book. I first saw the film in October 2005 at the Spinning Wheel Film Festival in Toronto. Please watch the movie–check out the site for a screening near you, and tell us what you think. I’ve met Valarie Kaur–in fact I knew her before she was famous–as I was in touch with her regarding the Sikhism course she created at Stanford University. I can vouch for how wonderful she is, and I am inspired by her example of following her spirit and doing what she knew she had to do.
Anita’s the newest, coolest Punjabi singer on the bhangra scene. She sings in Punjabi pretty well! Check out this article and the accompanying photo of her at the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India.
Go Sikh Coalition! There are so many Sikh organizations doing good things. The Sikh Coalition is one organization that is good about getting the word out about its achievements. Check out this YouTube video of Sukhvir Kaur’s case. The EEOC found in her favor. I think this video does a great job of making the larger American Sikh Community aware of what’s available to them. We have rights, and we should exercise them!
One of the reasons I love the Sikh religion is that we don’t have a creation story. We believe that evolution is just a way of understanding God’s work. Sure, you can believe in it, and I do, because there’s clear evidence for it. As far as I can tell, the Sikh path doesn’t make any claims that conflict with mainstream physics or science. Here’s a detailed article on the topic, after the jump. (more…)
SALDEF is out doing its job again, protecting the first amendment rights of Sikh Americans. Go SALDEF!
The New York Times recently published an article on Sikh youth in India giving up their identities. As a turban-wearing Sikh myself, I would like to share my experience with the Sikh identity.
I will say that the uniqueness afforded to me by being a Sikh has helped me in my life. Because I’ve had to stand out, I’ve had to know who I am. I’m more likely to take an unpopular viewpoint or do something unexpected, and I’m more likely to get attention when I speak.
What we need to remember is that the Sikh identity–the turban, the uncut hair, the five k’s–is a modern identity. If religions had version numbers, Sikhism is one of the newest versions. The gurus weren’t kidding when they said revolutionary things like men and women are completely equal, practices like female infanticide should be banned, and that anyone is free to read the scriptures. The Sikh identity is another modern piece of the Sikh framework that the gurus have given us. We often think it’s from the deep dark past, but it’s not. It’s the latest thing. It is modern on the time scale of the world’s religions.
I can also say that I’ve grown up in the United States, and I’ve never been to India. I’ve kept the Sikh identity this entire time. I’ve attended some of the best schools in the nation and had every opportunity. I can do whatever I want. I’ve been on the largest rollercoasters, windsurfed, snowboarded–you name it. My Sikh identity is not the smallest obstacle to the things I can do.
So my identity has helped me, it’s modern, and it’s never been an obstacle. But at the end of the day, religion is ultimately a personal thing. Don’t live the life that other people expect of you. Live the life you want to live. If you’ve been born in to the Sikh way of life, take a minute and consider the Sikh path, and think about its strengths and weaknesses. Does the life you want to live include following the Sikh path? If it does, please learn, question, and walk on the path to be a Sikh. That’s a path I’ve chosen, and so far I am happy and proud of that choice.