Archive for the ‘Activism Opportunities’ Category

Hey friends! I’ve posted the presentations from the Sikh Seminar Titled “Gurudwara and Sangat, Nurturing Sikh Heritage in Our Youth,” held at the Philadelphia Gurdwara last weekend. I also just recorded my presentation and have posted it as a YouTube video for your comment and review.

Please review the YouTube video and the other presentations and add your feedback in the comments.

The presentations were largely well received. I will add one anecdote–the Gurdwara Bhai Sahib, who has just finished katha before we took the stage, listened intently and had some comments on our presentations after we finished.

Here’s my English translation of the excellent story he told:

About 30 years ago, a group of Sikhs in England raised funds to purchase a church as their first gurdwara building. They were all very excited. Just before the Sikhs moved in, they had a meeting with the church’s pastor to get the keys. The pastor was fighting back tears.

“Why are you crying?” asked the Sikhs.

“You’ve purchased my church, and here you will build and wonderful and beautiful Guru Ghar,” said the pastor. “But what I ask of you is that while you build your gurudwara, you must also build interest in your youth. That is why we are here today–we built a beautiful building, but we didn’t engage the kids, so we are selling our church to you.”

The story really struck home as I have been to a few gurdwaras that are in old churches in New York and elsewhere. It’s a good point, isn’t it? What’s to say that we are any different?

The Next Seminar is May 4, 2008 at Sikh Sabha Gurdwara in Lawrenceville, NJ. The Topic is “The Relevance of the Sikh Rehat Maryada Today.” If you would like to participate, give a talk, or do any other sewa, please contact sutinder singh [ sutinders at gmail.com ].

Recorded version of my presentation:

I’ve also included the full slides from all of the speakers below.
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Sikhs spread knowledge, good food

Washington Square News has an excellent article on a langar hosted by the NYU United Sikh Association. The article describes a win-win situation for all. The NYU students get some good food and expand their horizons by learning a bit about Sikhs. The NYU Sikhs get to do some seva (selfless service) and serve everyone a free meal in the time-honored tradition of the Sikh faith. I hope many more college Sikh organizations can follow the lead of NYU — they even have a full week of activities planned. Special thanks to Kate Thuma for her well-written article!

The other day I received a powerful email from the Sikh Coalition. They might have hired a professional marketing firm to write the text, because it really caught my attention. It references several Internet comments on Sikh stories in the recent media:

“THERE IS NO DISCUSSION REQUIRED HERE. TAKE THE TOWEL OFF… OUR COUNTRY, OUR RULES.”
Reader comment on Newsday discussion board, August 29, 2007

“Why doesn’t he just sit down and shut up. Doesn’t he know he’s from the middle east. a-hole.”
Comment board, Hoboken 411, February 11, 2008.

“When traveling, can TSA make RAG-HEADS remove their rag like all travelers must remove their shoes?”
Viewer Comments, on LiveLeak.com, February 8, 2008

“They still let these people [Sikhs] on planes? Amazing.”
Reader comment on Newsday discussion board, August 29, 2007

These are just four comments. It’s a safe assumption that there are at least 1,000 people for each comment that viewed the news story in question, thought something similar, but just didn’t bother to leave a comment.

At the same time, there are many more people who thought, “wait, he’s a Sikh, what’s that?” And realized who Sikhs are, and the ideals we stand for. If you surf the comments, there are positive ones too, so there are people in this world that are beyond the ignorance that motivates so many.

We need to support organizations like the Sikh Coalition, SALDEF and others that are teams of mostly volunteers working to create some basic awareness. I’ve included the full Sikh Coalition email. They’re doing something cool — if you donate $100 this month they will send you a keychain and 10 glossy “The Sikhs” brochures to distribute to your neighbors.

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April 6, 2008
11:00 am

The Philly Gurdwara is hosting another seminar. It’s a great topic, and I’ll be the youngest speaker there, so do try to attend. I’ll try to post my talk here and some-post event notes.

Seminar #17 “Responsibilities of Gurdwara and Sangat in Nurturing Sikh Heritage in our Youth”

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa,
Waheguru Ji Ke Fateh,

You are cordially invited, with family and friends, to participate in our 17th seminar “Responsibilities of Gurdwara and Sangat in Nurturing Sikh Heritage in our Youth” in the Sikh Heritage Seminar Series.

Date: April 6, 2008 (Sunday) 12:00 – 1:30 p.m.
Discussion Session: 3:00 – 3:30 p.m.

Location: Philadelphia Sikh Society Gurdwara Sahib, 6708 Garden Court, Millbourne, (near Philadelphia, PA) PA 19082. Phone: 610-352-4733

Moderator: Manjit Kaur, Southampton PA

Speaker: Satnam Singh, Lawrenceville, NJ
Inderpreet Singh, Lawrenceville, NJ
Savraj Singh, Lawrenceville, NJ
Dr. Harminder Singh, Philadelphia, PA

This seminar is about. “Responsibilities of Gurdwara and Sangat in Nurturing Sikh Heritage in our Youth.”

As members of the Sikh Sangat, we need to have a hard look at our responsibilities in Nurturing Sikh Heritage in our youth. Without Sangat’s involvement, nothing can be achieved. For the future of the Sikh Faith it is very important that we recognize the needs of our future generation and give importance and priority to teaching them Punjabi, Gurbani, and our history. Gurdwaras are our institutions and they can address whatever Sangat’s needs are.

This Seminar will give us an opportunity to remind ourselves and take more initiative in fulfilling our duties. To raise our children as strong and proud Sikhs it’s collective effort of parents, Sangat, and our Sikh institutions.

Please join us and participate in the discussion session after Langer. These sessions are a very important part of our seminars; we can discuss, learn, and have a chance to share our views with each other.

Looking forward to seeing you.

Thank you and Guru Fateh.

Yashpal Singh
And
Manjit Kaur

So I decided to try something different and put together a little presentation on SALDEF. I’ve been a volunteer for SALDEF since 1998, when I helped make one of their first web sites. Since then I’ve represented SALDEF in various settings, trained police officers, and given talks in schools.

Let me know what you think. Do you want more video reports like this? Better yet, do you want to be interviewed? :)

Sikhs Run Across Canada, Summer 2009

The Guru Gobind Singh Children’s Foundation is planning an ambitious nationwide relay run this summer, to commemorate the group’s 10th anniversary. The stated objectives are to raise money for underprivileged kids and promote awareness about Sikhi. As a fairly regular runner, I can say that this looks to be an exciting event. Check out the planning slide deck below for details on the relay (source page) and contact Parminder Kaur [p flora 23 at yahoo . com] for more information.

Read this doc on Scribd: ACR Meeting 5

The Guru Gobind Singh children’s foundation is a youth run initiative has been raising money for underprivileged children in developing countries since 1999. Not only has the foundation raised tens of thousands of dollars, but it has also brought mainstream recognition for Sikhi.

The foundation’s main fund raiser each year is a relay run. In the past they have done runs from Toronto to Ottawa, Niagara Falls to Toronto and 24 hour runs in addition to a wide variety of runs and fund raisers.

To celebrate the foundation’s 10th anniversary in 2009, the youth are planning a relay run across Canada.
The run run will raise money for children as well as raise awareness of Sikhi in Canada.

The initial planning groundwork is in process and now the foundation mostly requires a large source of volunteers to actually take part in the run.

seattle sikh retreatHey folks, the Seattle Sikh Retreat is back for 2008. It’s Memorial Day Weekend this year. It seems like it’s far away, but it’ll be here before you know it. Register by May 15 to get the early bird rates! Why should you bother attending? It’s a forum where you can get together with like-minded people and discuss your connection with Sikhi. You can learn from the speakers, engage in dialogue, and meet exciting people from around North America. We’ll have awesome sports activities (rumors are circulating of a Sikh Olympics), a beautiful campfire, and lots of nitnem, simran, and laughter. Best of all, we’ll create an open forum where we can meet each other on common ground.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the ritual of religion. As children we are taught what it is to “be good” and jump through certain socially acceptable hoops. Many of us have grown up in the United States, and we’ve learned kirtan and attended divaans at the instruction of our parents. We tell everyone that the Guru Granth Sahib is our Guru, and that its teachings will get us closer to God. Amidst all of this routine, we often leave out an important aspect of our Guru — the Guru Panth. Many people will be surprised to learn that the current Sikh guru is actually the Guru Panth and the Guru Granth. What does this mean? Who is the Guru Panth? How can we relate to it? Are we the Guru Panth? All these questions and more will be answered at the retreat. Retreats and conferences like the Seattle Sikh Retreat are a welcome reprieve from the day-to-day, and are often eye-opening and life changing experiences. Make sure you read all the positive comments on the seattle sikh retreat website!

Check out this neat video:

Disclaimer: I’m one of the organizers of the Seattle Sikh Retreat, and have been since 2005. :)

Sikhpulse reports that the Pew Forum’s U.S. Religious Landscape Survey omits Sikhs. I checked it out and sent the following email to feedback@pewforum.org. I encourage you to do the same.

Hi Pew Forum!

I’m very impressed by the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey. Interviewing 35,000+ people is quite a feat.

But I’m suprised to see not even a brief mention of Sikh Americans–the most visible religious minority in America.

Please take a look at this recently released US Department of Justice video titled “On Common Ground” for some detailed info on Sikhs:
http://www.usdoj.gov/crs/video/ocg-video.htm
quotes: “…world’s fifth largest religion…there are over half a million Sikhs in the United States…distinctly separate from Hinduism and Islam”

Is there anything we can do to be included–in an appendix or a revision? It seems that you’ve produced some historic research, and we would love for Sikhs to be part of it–is there anything we can do going forward? What do you recommend?

Thanks for your help!

- Savraj Singh

United Sikhs petitioning France

United Sikhs, the most prominent international Sikh group fighting for the rights of Sikhs in France, has issued an appeal. Write to your embassy.

At issue is the sad fact that Sikhs like myself cannot attend public school in France. Yes, it sounds incomprehensible, but it’s true. In a progressive world that has taken many steps in favor of human rights and equality over the last several decades (see the US civil rights movement, for example), why do they want to exclude Sikhs and others from attending public school? What a shame. I have been to France on vacation, and I will say that I met many friendly people there. Let’s hope these nice people will have some sense and fix their laws which ultimately divide instead of unite. This is hatred, racism, and intolerance at a rather prominent level (as much as we Americans like to point out how backward and lame France is, we should probably help them in this case since the French are oppressing their own citizens by denying them an education.)

To view the memorandum, please click
http://unitedsikhs.org/memo-to-french-embassy/

Instructions to use the draft memorandum:

* Copy the drafted memorandum onto your organizations letterhead and print it.
* Request the authorized signing authority of your organization to sign the memorandum.
* Make an appointment to give the memorandum personally to the French Consular or Ambassador in your country.
OR
Fax or email the signed memorandum to your local French Consulate in your city/country. To find the fax number or email address of your Consulate/Embassy, click on http://www.french-in-france.biz/ingles/fr_embassies_a.html .
* Email a copy of the sent memorandum to UNITED SIKHS at rtt@unitedsikhs.org , or send it as a fax to 001-810-885-4264.
* [IF YOU HAVE ANY PROBLEMS EXECUTING THE ABOVE AND NEED ANY ASSISTANCE, CALL 001-646-315-3909 OR WRITE TO rtt@unitedsikhs.org ]

The Essence of Japji Sahib

January 13, 2008
11:30 amto3:30 pm

I’ve been invited to the following event to speak on the essence of Japji Sahib. If you have any suggestions for my talk, let me know and I’ll credit you. :)

Seminar #15 “Essence of Jap Ji Sahib”

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ke Fateh,

You are cordially invited, with family and friends, to participate in our 15th seminar “Essence of Jap Ji Sahib” in the Sikh Heritage Seminar Series.

Date: January 13, 2008 (Sunday) 11:30 – 1:30 p.m.
Discussion Session: 3:00 – 3:30 p.m.
Location: Philadelphia Sikh Society Gurudwara Sahib, 6708 Garden Court, Millbourne, (near Philadelphia, PA) PA 19082.
Phone: 610-352-4733
Moderator: Manjit Kaur, Southampton PA

Speakers:
Kathakar Bachiter Singh Ji
Karmanpreet Singh, Philadelphia, PA
Savraj Singh, Lawrenceville, NJ
Upneet Kaur, Southampton, PA

Happy New Year to all of you. Let us start this year by understanding the most important Message of Guru Nanak: Jap Ji Sahib

Please join us and participate in the discussion session after Langer. These sessions are a very important part of our seminars; we can discuss, learn, and have a chance to share our views with each others.

Looking forward to seeing you.

Thank you and Guru Fateh.

Yashpal Singh and Manjit Kaur