What is Sikhism? | wusa9.com


“People have really noticed me at an airport or on a plane, haven’t they? We are noticeable. And at the same time, people have no idea who we are.

Members of the fifth largest religion in the world stand out in America. But ask who are the sikhs and what they believe and studies show that up to 70% of Americans will not be able to answer.

“On the one hand, we are hyper visible with our unique identity, our turbans, our beards,” said Simran Jeet Singh with the Sikh Coalition, a non-profit organization founded after September 11 tragedies.

“People have really noticed me at an airport or on a plane, haven’t they? We are noticeable. And at the same time, people have no idea who we are.

Today there isaround 30 million Sikhs in the world. There are approximately 1 million Sikhs living in North America.

“Whenever I have to explain to someone who I am, what my identity is, I always tell them that Sikhs were warriors.“Said Deb Bhatia, founder of the non-profit association Sikhs of St. Louis.

One of the youngest great religions in the world

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Originating in the 15th century in the region of northern India known as Punjab, Sikhism was established at a time when superstition and social inequity ruled the land.

The founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak, was born into a Hindu family. From an early age he sought to establish a faith that considered all people – regardless of caste or sex – equal.

They called themselves Sikhs, which means “students” in Sanskrit. The term “Guru” translates to “teacher”. During 2.5 centuries there were 10 Sikh gurus. At the beginning of the 18e century, theGurushipwas eventually passed on by the 10th guru to the saintSikhwriting,Guru Granth Sahib, who is now considered the living Guru by followers of the Sikh faith.

“Sikhism is more about believing in humanity. Sikhism means that there is only one God. We see a human race as one race, ”Bhatia said.

The history (and meaning) of the Sikh turban

Early in its history, Sikhs had to defend their faith against the Mughal Empire and tyrannical rulers who persecuted minority religious groups.

It was then that the 10th Guru of Sikhism, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, officially made the turban a symbol of faith.

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“Only Sikhs mostly wear turbans,” said Vik Singh Saluja of Chesterfield, Missouri.

Vik and his wife, Pav Kaur Saluja, are Sikhs living in Chesterfield, Missouri.
They explain that other cultures in the Middle East and Asia often wear headgear that may look similar, but a Sikh’s turban is unique. It was used in part to identify Sikh warriors during battle.

“When [Sikhs] were at war and they couldn’t even identify who were the Hindus or Muslims they were fighting against, Guru Gobind Singh Ji actually turned and said, “The way you will be identified is through your turban.” And if anyone sees a man in a turban, they’ll know that’s the one you need to turn to for protection, ‘Pav said.

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“Nothing has changed after so many years. You see a Sikh standing in the crowd and you need help, you go tell them and say, “Hey, man, I need help. You have to help me, ”Bhatia said.

Before the founding of Sikhism, turbans were worn by the cultural elite and the Indian upper class. Kings and rulers once wore turbans. however, a fundamental teaching of the Sikh faith is that all people are equal.

In order to eliminate the class system associated with turbans, Guru Gobind Singh Ji said that every Sikh – male or female – keeps their hair uncut and wears a turban. Other purposes of the turban include protecting the long, uncut hair of Sikhs and keeping them clean.

“We don’t cut our hair because God told us we should keep our bodies the same way we were gifted by GodBhatia said. Not all Sikhs wear a turban. Some also choose to cut their hair for personal reasons.

The last guru of Sikhism also rejected the caste system by giving all Sikhs the surnames Singh (Lion) or Kaur (Princess). Today, you can find that Sikhs mainly use “Singh” and “Kaur” as their middle name.

Sikhs in America

Singh or Kaur, Sikhs have been in America since the 1890s. So why do so few people know about Sikhs?

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“In our religious tradition, we have no history of proselytizing. Because we don’t advertise who we are or try to convince others to be like us. You know there is no PR effort, at least not traditionally in the Sikh religion and so maybe it has something to do with why people don’t know us too, ”Simran said. Jeet Singh.

Unfortunately, when we see Sikhs in the media, it is often as a result of violence. Recent examples include the mass shooting at a FedEx facility in Indiana that claimed the lives of eight people. Among them, four Sikh employees of FedEx.

Target


FBI hate crime data shows Sikhs are the third most targeted religious group in America – behind Jews and Muslims.


“We have seen a significant increase in hatred and violence after September 11 and this increase has not slowed downSaid Simran Jeet Singh.

“After September 11, on the right, people saw that the face of the person responsible for it was wearing a turban,” Vik Saluja said. “The Sikhs were essentially identified as halfway or poorly targeted and they basically became collateral damage with the anti-Muslim or anti-Islam sentiment that manifested itself.”

Different types of discrimination

The targets of racism in America are constantly changing based on national and international events.

“When my father first arrived in the 1970s, he was seen as the threat because he looked, at least to American sensibility, like the Ayatollah,” said Simran Jeet Singh.

“When I was growing up in the ’80s and’ 90s, the enemy moved to Iraq, and my name was ‘Saddam’. And then September 11 happened and the game changed again and the insults we received were “Bin Laden”, “Taliban” and “Al Qaeda”. Racism is constantly evolving and adapting based on what Americans perceive as a threat. “

While Sikhs peacefully practice their religion, you also find them feeding the hungry and giving back to the communities in which they live.

Through the Langar tradition, the practice of preparing and serving a free meal to promote the Sikh principle of selfless service, Sikhs serve approximately 7 million meals a day around the world.

Meals go to those in need and have helped thousands of people facing food insecurity during the pandemic.

It is a key part of Bhatia’s work with the Sikhs of St. Louis, which has helped serve thousands of meals in the area.

“Wwhen we serve meals, we don’t see caste, we don’t see color, we don’t see religion. It’s for everyone and everyone. We all know actions speak louder than words. Seating a food with someone connects you to them, ”Bhatia said.

Recently, Sikhs in India have established “Oxygen Langars” for covid-19 patients who struggle to find oxygen as COVID cases continue to rise in the country. Drive-thru tents have also been set up outside Sikh places of worship, known as Gurdwaras. No one is refused.

Thanks to these traditions, Sikhs continue to practice their religion peacefully throughout the world. At the heart of their religion is the responsibility to help others.

“There is something really deep about this simple teaching that divinity is also present in all of us,” said Simran Jeet Singh. “Because if you truly recognize the goodness of each other and the world around you, then even in the most difficult times it becomes possible to find silver liners and find hope.”


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