Archive for the ‘Schools’ Category

Sikh Kirtan Courses at Hofstra

Good stuff, perhaps I will check it out. These courses are taught by Bhai Baldeep Singh and Dr. Gurnaam Singh, so it’s serious stuff and they are for-credit courses as well.

The first course will be taught by Bhai Baldeep Singh (Delhi, India), a 13th generation Sikh Kirtan exponent (vocalist, percussionist, string player), Instrument Maker, Lecturer, Archivist, and founder of ANAD Conservatory: An Institute of Sikh Aesthetics and Culture. The second course will be taught by Dr. Gurnam Singh, a Performer of Gurmat Sangeet, and Chair of Sikh Music at Punjabi University, Patiala, Punjab, India, and author of a series of influential books and articles, with two decades of experience in research and teaching). The courses are being sponsored by an Endowment gifted by Dr. Hakam Singh to establish a Chair in Sikh Music at Hofstra University in conjunction with the HCLAS. A key attraction for each course will be a public concert that each Instructor will perform (see the concerts).

These two chairs, the Bindra Chair in Sikh Studies, and the future Sardarni Harbans Kaur Chair in Sikh Musicology, alongside subsequent workshops, lectures series, and a developing curriculum, will make Hofstra University’s Religion Department unique in the world, promoting a locus dedicated to the exploration and advancement of the study of the Sikh tradition from religious, philosophical as well as aesthetic and performative perspectives.

hosftra sikh music courses

Full Details at Credit Courses - Sikh Studies

Sarika wins Kara Case

This is the first in a series of quick updates. Quite a bit has happened since I last posted!

So Sarika Singh, a British Sikh girl who was not allowed to wear her Kara because it fell outside the bounds of her school uniform, took her case to the High Court in England and won.

Pretty cool. The following article includes a detailed timeline. Thanks Wales Online!
Sarika Allowed Back to School After Bangle Victory

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.

Update 6/26/2008: Sign this Petition

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

Sikh Boy’s Turban Set on Fire

patkaThis happened only a couple towns over from where I currently live and where I grew up, so I’m particularly shocked by this. Lighting another student on fire is unbelieveable, and lighting a student’s turban on fire is even harder to imagine.

The school has already taken steps to resolve the situation — including the permanent dismissal of the perpetrator. The Sikh Coalition is to be applauded for its quick action in this case.

Princeton Packet: High school incident sparks national attention

Newsday: Sikh group wants anti-bias action after turban set afire

Hightstown teen accused of setting fire to student’s turban dismissed from school

The last time something like this happened, it was in Marlboro, NJ. Here’s the Sikh Coalition’s summary of it, and here’s a decent article about it: Speaker offers insight to ancient Sikh religion –
Incident at Marlboro Middle School prompts lesson for student leaders.
I’d certainly be happy to help in any way I can.

Update 6/9/08: Looks like the perpetrator was permanently dismissed from the school and charged with a hate crime. Click for more details.

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!


In the multipurpose room at the Nyumburu Cultural Center yesterday, a free dinner of traditional Indian food was served to anyone who showed up, regardless of their race, color, ethnicity or religion.

The catch: They all had to eat on the floor.

The dinner was called a langar, a Punjabi word meaning “free kitchen.” An important event for adherents to Sikhism, the dinner was hosted by the Sikh Students Association.

Full Article: A place to sit for all walks of life

A British school with a strict uniform policy has suspended Sarika, age 14, because wearing a kara violates the school’s policy. Sarika’s mom plans to sue the school citing basic human rights acts and legal precendents set for Sikh symbols in the 1970s. This should be an interesting one to follow.

Full Article at the Telegraph

Earlier this year, the Sikh community in California pushed for the revision of a textbook, and the board of education listened. The textbook contained an inappropriate image of Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh religion. Stickers will be distributed to cover the image, and new prints of the textbook will be revised. Wow. All I can say is it’s a great example of Sikhs getting together, pushing for change through the right channels and the right ways, and our government reacting appropriately in response to concerns. Check out the New York Times article: Bowing to Sikhs’ Call, California Wants Textbook Change. What brought my attention to this incident was an article I read in Reform Judaism Magazine, which highlighted the incident as an example for how Jews should take action for similar errors in textbooks. Many have cited the Jewish community as a great community for all minorities to model in the United States, so it’s exciting to see that the Jewish community is giving us props. Congrats to all that made this happen.