Archive for June, 2008

Full article here: Keeping the faith, respecting others

Choice Quote:

The panelists started by breaking down barriers, describing their homes and work places — most in spots such as Independence, Raytown, Lee’s Summit and Kansas City. When you recognize a man or woman as your neighbor, you’ve immediately established commonality.

And commonalities flowed through the panelists’ comments.

• Ralph Lesh (Baha’i): “In our faith, you’re always trying to be a better person.”

• Marie Svaglic (Buddhist): “I pray to remove from life all that is not good. … Our main goal is to pursue world peace.”

• Zarrieff Osman (Muslim): “We don’t have bandoliers with bullets, a machete or look like (Osama) bin Laden. Most Muslims here love America. We are here to make a contribution to America.”

• Gurdit Singh (Sikh): “We have three precepts: work, worship service… We pray for the uplifting of all humanity.”

Well said Gurdit. ;)

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  • Check out this amazing video clip from the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric:

    Here’s the full article: Teaching Not Preaching in CA Bible Belt

    Now take a minute to contrast this situation with what’s going on in New York City schools. I present to you the direct quote below:

    But in Modesto, the lessons aren’t about distant cultures, so much as about the student at the next desk.

    “So the only religion that actually requires the wearing of the turban would be what faith?” Taylor asked her students.

    “Sikhs,” students answered.

    Jaskirat Brar, a devout member of Modesto’s Sikh community, may stand out at Johansen High. But thanks to the world religions course he also fits in.

    “Kids get to learn what I am and clear up misconceptions they have about me,” he said.

    “Because we have the world religions course, the students are aware of what’s happening in our community and that certainly is something to celebrate,” Taylor said.

    “Probably the best thing that I learned [is] how to respect the cultures and the religions and what they believe,” one student said.

    Great job Modesto School District! You guys are an example for the rest of the country.

    The Sikh Coalition reports that Gurprit Kaur is the latest victim of school hatred — her hair was clipped by another student. The group has organized a March on June 30 to demand rights for students in New York. Unfortunately I’ll be out of town.

    Excerpt from the press release:

    On Monday, June 9, 2008 at approximately 11:00 am while in English class, Gurprit’s classmate told her that a portion of her braided hair had been cut off. Gurprit did not notice while her hair was being cut behind her back. Given the deep spiritual significance of her hair, Gurprit was extremely upset. She immediately conveyed her dismay to teachers.

    Gurprit’s school conducted an investigation and within hours advised her that a classmate (a juvenile who shall remain nameless) had admitted to cutting her hair during a class they share together and where they sit next to each other. The school returned Gurprit’s hair to her wadded in a tissue. The perpetrator was suspended the same day.

    I’ve also dropped in a JPG of the Flyer below, click to view.
    june30thmarchenglish.jpg

    Update 6/26/2008: Sign this Petition

    surreygill.jpgFriend of sikhswim Inderpal Singh put in some effort and raised $10,000 from the Sikh community to create a $1,000 yearly scholarship in honor of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Excellent work Inderpal Singh!

    Full Story: Surrey Leader.

    Here’s a nice video of Jujhar, Himmat, and Josh Singh. Would be nice to meet them sometime.

    All three of these guys are really sharp. The speak eloquently about Sikhi and and cite their parents as keys to their success. Keep it up boys!

    Here’s the related coverage on other notable blogs:
    spirit born people
    sikhchic

    Disney denied musician Sukhbir Singh a job because he did not have the “Disney Look,” so SALDEF has filed a landmark class action lawsuit. Now I think Disney is one of the world’s most creative and people-friendly companies in the world, so I’m a bit suprised that Disney forced the Sikh community to do this.

    Here’s an excerpt from the official press release:

    Mr. Channa, a practicing Sikh American, applied for a job with Disney in the Fall of 2006 but was not hired and was told that he did not have the “Disney look” – a negative reference to his religiously-mandated dastaar (Sikh turban). Witnesses have filed affidavits in his support. The lawsuit seeks financial damages and a court order barring Disney from ever discriminating against prospective Sikh employees.

    On my last visit to Disney World, little kids, when they saw me, would say, “Hey look, it’s Aladdin!” So I think Disney’s position has no basis. I think Sikhs have the “Disney look” if average people confuse us for some of the popular Disney characters!

    Disney, are you saying that if Aladdin were real, he couldn’t get a job at Disney?

    Now I just want to be clear — Sikhism is a 550+ year old, distinct, peace-loving monotheistic religion that originated in Punjab in South Asia, and Sikhs like myself wear religiously mandated turbans as articles of faith. Sikhs have no relationship or connection to “Aladdin” beyond a distant similarity in choice of headwear.

    It will be interesting to see how this plays out — word from some of the top people at SALDEF indicates there will be large amount of press generated around this story tomorrow.

    no-turbans-at-disneyworld.jpg

    Update 6/16/2008: Angry Asian Man coverage
    Update 6/17/2008: Fox 7 News, Article and Video Report
    Update 6/17/2008: Full complaint PDF
    Update 6/18/2008: SALDEF latest Press Release
    Update 6/18/2008: washington times article
    Update 7/23/2008: WESH.com Article and Poll: Should Disney allow Sikh Workers to Wear Turbans?

    Washington Times: Sleek Sikh

    cole-model4.jpgThe Washington Times belief blog posted an interview with Sonny Singh. Here are some choice quotes:

    “I’ve heard from thousands of people around the world on how they appreciated this,” Mr. Caberwal said. He hopes his day in the sun will encourage Sikh youth, whose unusual headcovering makes them stand out in a crowd.

    “Having a unique identity can be a very lonely road to walk down,” the model said. “Fighting against a negative stereotype is consistantly tough.”

    All Sikhs know what it’s like to be harassed, he said, and his brother-in-law has endured worse: physical threats, job descrimination and taunts just for being confused with Muslims. Kenneth Cole had heard of what Sikhs endure, he said, and wanted to include a Sikh in an ad campaign to introduce the concept that Sikhs are normal folk who wear cool clothes and think like us.

    Nirmal Singh opened a session of the Pennsylvania Senate yesterday. PennLive has an article with details. Here’s the audio, and I quickly transcribed what he said here. I really like what Nirmal Singh put together, check it out!

    Join me in the prayer. Ek On Kar, Sat Nam, There is but One God, True is His Name.

    We pray, to the One God, Who created this universe, with all its colorful diversity, rang, as we call it
    We pray to the One God, under whose Divine Ordinance, Hukam, this Universe abides
    We pray to sabna jia ka ik data, the one god who provides for and sustains all this creation
    Pray, give us the understanding that this world is a dharamsal, an arena for righteous living –
    much of what people can accomplish in life, happens through their own Kal, their endeavor
    We pray for kirpa, thy divine mercy, to enable us all to be prayerful, to enable us all to provide for our families,
    enable us all to share with those in need, and enable us all not to shy away from doing what is right
    that truly is the righteous way

    Help us pray help us nurture a society, where we all live as a fraternity, with none feeling excluded or treated as a stranger
    Where we say some, and listen some, where we bring harmony peace, caring and sharing to our corporate, communal lives, and help each and every one of us, to grow, develop, and contribute towards a common good.

    We pray for this sangat, this assembly, heavy is your responsibility and difficult are the choices you have to make as leaders of the people.
    We pray for you individually and collectively to be blessed with the wisdom to conduct your business today and everyday in service of and for the well being of the citizens of this commonwealth.
    We close this prayer as always seeking tere bhane sarbat ka bhala — that the well being of one and all in this world be thy will.

    Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh!

    West Coast Camp - Aug 23-29, 2008

    The West Coast Sikh Youth Alliance is putting on its 14th camp this year. It’s for kids age 10-25, and will be in Vancouver Island, BC. I attended West Coast camp as a counselor in 2005 and have been raving about it ever since — this is an amazing camp that is not to be missed. Canadians work hard and play hard, and this camp is a great example of that! Check out the photos (they are awesome!) in this pamphlet, which is posted on their website, wcsya.com.

    Jagmohan Singh attacked in New York

    Another Sikh child, Jagmohan Singh, was attacked in school. He was brutally punched in the face by a fellow student, according to the latest reports. The Sikh Coalition had a press conference about the matter a few days ago.

    This is an interesting case, because the school knew about the problem, according to the coalition press release:

    Jagmohan’s tormentor has a long history of harassing him at school. He pulled on Jagmohan’s beard in class and squeezed his jurdha (hair top knot). He continually made fun of Jagmohan’s patka and jurdha, asking Jagmohan if he ever washed his hair and demanding that Jagmohan remove his patka and show him his hair.
    Jagmohan reported this harassment to teachers, but the tormentor was not stopped by teachers or administrators at Richmond Hill High School.

    Here’s the latest writeup. Watch this post for updates.
    Another Sikh Boy Suffers Hate Assault in New York City School