Who are sikhs


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This presentation was created by the Sikh Communications Council in 2001 following the 9/11 attacks on the US. It contains basic information in Sikhs and Sikh Americans as well as messages intended to protect Sikhs from the post-9/11 xenophobic backlashes.

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  • Sikhs have lived in America for more than 100 years, and have contributed to our great nation in a variety of ways. Today, you will find Sikhs in nearly every business and profession, serving their communities as physicians and taxi drivers, gas station attendants and rocket scientists, business leaders, community volunteers and teachers. Sikh children attend schools and play sports with the descendents of other great pioneers from all across the world, and they are Americans. Sikhs are permanently woven into the fabric of America, and are proud to be Americans.
  • Sikhs can be identified by their Articles of faith. We call them the 5 K’s. Kesh (uncut hair), often kept covered by a distinctive turban, a symbol of strength and God’s creation; Kaccha (under-shorts), symbolizing modesty and fidelity. These all have deeply religious meanings for Sikhs, and we appreciate it when others show appropriate respect for our symbols of faith. Kanga (comb), meant to promote our neat and respectful appearance; and Kara (metal bracelet), symbolizing equality and eternity; Kirpan (ceremonial sword), symbolizing our dedication to protecting liberty; In addition to the Sikh symbols of faith and our requirement to work hard, remember God and share with others, Sikhs also have a list of activities they are not to engage in – adultery; consuming tobacco, alcohol or other intoxicants; or cutting their hair.
  • In the United States, the people you most often see wearing turbans are members of the Sikh religion. Head coverings originating in the Middle East are typically of a different style and are worn for different reasons. The Sikh turban is a long piece of cloth wrapped neatly around the head several times and looking like a football from the side. Sikhs wear turbans as symbols and reminders of their core values: discipline, honesty, integrity, ethics, spirituality and humility, and to distinguish their unique identity as protectors of the values they revere. The turban covers the uncut hair - another physical attribute of Sikh spirituality. A Sikh wears a turban because he is proud of being a Sikh, and proud of the values that Sikhism represents – including defense of the innocent, equality of gender, race, caste, and creed, and community service. Today, a fellow American who sees a person wearing a turban in America should feel a sense of security, knowing that every Sikh is honor-bound to stand against tyranny and protect all those who need their help.
  • Sikhs feel severely humiliated if asked to remove their turban in public, as this breaks a sacred covenant with God and exposes an intimate part of the body It is very insulting and disrespectful to a Sikh to remove his or her turban Turbans are a mandatory part of Sikh faith A turban is not a hat. It cannot be casually taken on and off. It must be carefully retied each time it is removed Treat the turban with respect
  • Sikhism is the world’s fifth largest religion with more than 22 million followers, including 500,000 here in the United States.
  • Sikhism was founded within the region of five rivers, known as Punjab. This region, where Sikhism was founded, blossomed and formalized as a faith, is now split within the countries of India and Pakistan.
  • The Sikh religion was founded by Guru Nanak, who was born in 1469 AD To give a point of reference, Columbus came to America in 1492. Thus, compared to Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam, it is the youngest and the most modern of the religions being practiced today. Guru Nanak and the nine Gurus, who succeeded him, set a wonderful example of living spiritually, while yet taking an active and secular part in the world. The Gurus provided guidance to the Sikhs for 239 years. They taught the basic values of Kirat Karni, Naam Japna, and Vand Chhakna. These three concepts in a nut-shell, describe how a Sikh balances the spiritual part of life with the material one.
  • The fourth Guru founded the present-day city of Amritsar, where the fifth Guru, Guru Arjan, built the Gurdwaras. The most famous of all the Sikh Gurdwara’s is the Harmandir Sahib which was built in 1588. It was embellished with marble and gold leaf by Maharaja Ranjit Singh in the 1800’s, and is now known, in English, as the Golden Temple. Over the years, the Harmandir Sahib has been the symbol of Sikh sentiments, as it has been repeatedly razed, bombed by those wanting to quell the Sikhs, or to coerce them into conversion to other faiths.
  • The Tenth and the last Guru, Guru Gobind Singh (1666-1708AD) initiated the Sikh Baptism ceremony in 1699 AD; and thus gave a distinctive identity to the Sikhs. He unveiled the concept of Khalsa (“the sovereign individual”) in 1699, declaring the Sikhi to be the order of the saint-soldiers always ready to stand up and even take up arms against anyone who acted against Waheguru’s Will or forced others to do so. Guru Gobind Singh prescribed five articles of faith which a Sikh is supposed to always keep on his person. These five articles are commonly known as Panj Kakars or the 'Five Ks' because they start with letter K representing alphabet Kakka (k) in the Punjabi language. Shortly before passing away the Guru ordained that Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh Holy Scripture would be the ultimate spiritual authority for the Sikhs.
  • When the first of the twin towers fell on September 11, Doctor Nijher was at a nearby hospital. A surgical resident there, Singh and several other Maimonides doctors rushed to the scene of the disaster. Once there, he and four other doctors scavenged supplies from an abandoned ambulance, and by early afternoon they had set up the first triage center at ground zero, just in front of one of the collapsed towers. He also helped organize a makeshift morgue in the lobby of the American Express building.
  • Dr Nijher stayed until 2 a.m., mostly treating injured firefighters who had been pulled from the rubble. From there, he went back to the hospital, slept for an hour, and reported for his regular shift at 6 a.m. "When I was working at the scene, not a single thing was said to me. Everyone was working for a united effort. How many of you would call him an American Hero?
  • The next day, Thursday, Nijher went out to run some errands near his apartment in midtown Manhattan; it was the first time he had gone out since the attacks. "Every person was staring at me," he says. "People were saying 'There goes one of them now.' Someone yelled 'Go back to your own country!'" Is this how we treat our Hero’s in America? Of course not, so why was Dr. Nijher given this reception?
  • On September 15 th , four days after the attack on America, Balbir Singh Sodhi had just returned from Costco. He had donated $75 at the store for victims of the September 11 th attack, and had purchased numerous American flags and other patriotic things to put on his gas station.
  • Singh would be killed a few hours later during a Sept. 15 shooting spree that authorities said targeted victims because of their race. The gunman allegedly said he was a “patriot”.
  • Nationwide, more than 200 incidents against just Sikhs have been reported since September 11 th . In San Diego, here is another example of an attack on an innocent American.
  • In summary,
  • So why have Sikhs been the victims of more than 200 attacks since Sept 11 th ? Does Balbir Singh Sodhi resemble Osama Bin Laden?
  • Similarities? There were 19 terrorists None of them had beards or turbans. None were Sikhs. Where are the similarities? Where is the cause for concern?
  • Similarities? Is this really about headcoverings? Beards? And skin color? Take a careful look at the style of the head covering. Sikhs wear turbans. Bin Laden and Muslims wear a headwrap.
  • Muslim religious elders , often wear a headcovering wrapped around a cap known in Arabic as a kalansuwa. These caps can be spherical or conical, colorful or solid white, and their styles vary widely from region to region. Not all Muslims wear turbans. In fact, few wear them in the West, and in major cosmopolitan centers around the Muslim world, turbans are seen by some as passé.
  • Let’s take another look at headcoverings. Can you know see how unique a Sikh turban is from the rest of the coverings worn around the world? Clearly the turban should not be cause for alarm. Sikhs should not be a cause for alarm. We are all Americans working together for a common goal.
  • Any questions?
  • Who are sikhs

    1. 1. Your Sikh Neighbors
    2. 2. Who Are Sikhs?
    3. 3. Articles of Faith <ul><li>Kesh - uncut hair: Sikhs do not cut hair or beards to remain in the image that god gave us </li></ul><ul><li>Kuchha – under-shorts (boxers) to represent modesty and fidelity </li></ul><ul><li>Kanga - comb, made of wood - to keep uncut hair neat and clean </li></ul><ul><li>Kara - bracelet, made of steel worn on right hand –a reminder of noble actions, a symbol of eternity </li></ul><ul><li>Kirpan - ceremonial small blunt knife symbolizing freedom, liberty and justice </li></ul>
    4. 4. Sikh Turbans <ul><li>Mideast headcoverings different </li></ul><ul><li>99% of people with turbans in US are Sikhs, not Muslims or Hindus </li></ul><ul><li>Covers long, uncut hair </li></ul><ul><li>Approx. 15 feet of cloth wrapped neatly around the head every time it is put on </li></ul><ul><li>Symbolizes discipline, integrity, humility, and spirituality </li></ul><ul><li>Religious requirement - must be worn at all times in public </li></ul>
    5. 5. Importance of Identity <ul><li>Sikhs feel severely humiliated if asked to remove their turban in public, as this breaks a sacred covenant with god and exposes an intimate part of the body </li></ul><ul><li>It is very insulting and disrespectful to a Sikh to remove his or her turban </li></ul><ul><li>Turbans are a mandatory part of Sikh faith </li></ul><ul><li>A turban is not a hat. It cannot be casually taken on and off. It must be carefully retied each time it is removed </li></ul><ul><li>Treat the turban with respect </li></ul>
    6. 7. Historical Origins Sikhism <ul><li>22 million Sikhs worldwide </li></ul><ul><li>20 million Sikhs in India </li></ul>INDIA CHINA INDIA AFGHANISTAN PAKISTAN IRAN
    7. 8. Guru Nanak <ul><li>Founded Sikhism </li></ul><ul><li>Born in 1469 </li></ul><ul><li>10 Gurus provided spiritual guidance </li></ul><ul><li>Guru Nanak founded Sikhism based on equality and justice for all </li></ul>
    8. 9. Golden Temple, Amritsar Harmandir Sahib—1588 Fifth Guru Sentiment of Sikhs Symbol of strength & endurance Survived tyrannical raids Golden Temple
    9. 10. Guru Gobind Singh <ul><li>Father Martyred to protect the Hindus </li></ul><ul><li>Created the Sikh Nation: Khalsa – legion of the pure with Saint/Soldier qualities to protect anyone from oppression and injustice </li></ul><ul><li>Amrit - Sikh Baptism Ceremony in 1699 </li></ul><ul><li>Prescribed the 5 Articles of Faith </li></ul><ul><li>Declared Guru Granth Sahib as the eternal Guru and ultimate spiritual authority for the Sikhs. </li></ul>
    10. 11. Beliefs of the Sikhs <ul><li>One god/creator </li></ul><ul><ul><li>All humans created equal </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Goal is to be one with god </li></ul><ul><li>Human life a precious blessing </li></ul><ul><li>All carry a spark of divine light: consequently no race, pigmentation, gender, is intrinsically superior to others </li></ul><ul><li>Defenders of social and spiritual justice, </li></ul><ul><li>Truth, fearless,non-hateful spirit are important in attaining salvation </li></ul>
    11. 12. Beliefs of the Sikhs <ul><li>Freedom of speech, religion </li></ul><ul><li>Equal rights in all walks of life for all persons of all faiths and external looks </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Note that many countries still ask require religion, race, or nationality on employment applications </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Elsewhere, people discriminate based on looks </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Compensation based on merit rather than outward differences </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Justice and liberty for all </li></ul><ul><li>Origin of universe is from one light source </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Life is by god’s evolution </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>There are many planets, solar systems and galaxies </li></ul></ul>
    12. 13. Values & Practices <ul><li>Seva : Daily selfless service to humanity </li></ul><ul><li>Vand Chakna : sharing with others </li></ul><ul><li>Langar : Community Kitchen, </li></ul><ul><ul><li>An expression of service to community </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Kirat Kamaiyee : Honest Labor </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Honest earnings by hard work </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Do not become burden on the society </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Daily Prayers & Meditation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>No passive mediation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Maintain channel of knowledge by actively engaging in the society. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Prevent stagnation of social and intellectual skills </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Introspection connect now, don’t wait for later </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Bhai Kanyia </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>pioneer of the Red Cross & </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>humanitarian aide organizations </li></ul></ul>
    13. 14. Respect for All <ul><li>Protectors of social and spiritual justice for ALL </li></ul><ul><li>Believers of non-violence </li></ul><ul><li>Equality of all religions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Give relevance to god rather than religion </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Believers of interfaith diversity </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Equality of persons </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Social, spiritual, political rights for all women </li></ul></ul>
    14. 15. GURDWARA (Place of Worship) <ul><li>Guru Granth Sahib </li></ul><ul><li>Nishan Sahib </li></ul><ul><li>Architecture </li></ul>© 2001 Sikh Communications Council, Inc.
    15. 16. Inside the Gurdwara <ul><li>All welcome </li></ul><ul><li>Hymns </li></ul><ul><li>Heads covered </li></ul><ul><li>Shoes removed </li></ul><ul><li>Sit on floor; meditate </li></ul><ul><li>Community kitchen </li></ul>
    16. 17. Gurdwara Functions <ul><li>Education </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Initially schools were started in Gurdwaras. Now Khalsa schools are held in Gurdwaras, where religion, language, history, art, and other subjects are taught </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Shelter for stomach, mind, and soul </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Community kitchen: shelter from hunger </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tranquility: safe place to stay to travelers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Prayers, meditation, & introspection for soul </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Implementation of equality </li></ul><ul><ul><li>4 doors: one on each side </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Open to all persons without from all directions, religions, </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Even the holiest Sikh shrines are open to persons of all faiths </li></ul></ul></ul>
    17. 18. September 11, 2001 <ul><li>Sikhs grieve with America . Like many, Sikhs lost friends, loved ones and colleagues </li></ul><ul><li>Sikhs unequivocally condemn the recent terrorist attacks </li></ul><ul><li>Sikhs continue to donate blood, food, and money, and participate in memorial services </li></ul><ul><li>At the WTC, Sikh doctors were first on the scene helping save lives </li></ul>
    18. 19. First to Help Dr. Navinderdeep Singh Nijher, a fourth year resident Set up the first triage center at ground zero, just in front of one of the collapsed towers. He also helped organize a makeshift morgue in the lobby of the American Express building.
    19. 20. An American Hero? Dr Nijher stayed until 2 a.m., mostly treating injured firefighters who had been pulled from the rubble. From there, he went back to the hospital, slept for an hour, and reported for his regular shift at 6 a.m.
    20. 21. A Hero’s Welcome? &quot;Every person was staring at me&quot; &quot;People were saying 'There goes one of them now.' Someone yelled 'Go back to your own country!'&quot;
    21. 22. Mesa, Arizona Balbir S. Sodhi Former Bay Area Resident Small Businessman
    22. 23. Why? &quot;On Sept. 11, America was attacked from abroad,&quot; said Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley &quot;However, with the murder of Mr. Sodhi, we have now been attacked from within.&quot;
    23. 24. Facts More than 200 Incidents against Sikhs alone have been reported since Sept 11th Swaran Kaur Bhullar's car was idling at a red light when two men on a motorcycle pulled up beside her, yanked open her door and shouted, &quot;This is what you get for what you've done to us!&quot; And then, &quot;I'm going to slash your throat!&quot; She was stabbed in the head at least twice before the men, hearing a car approach, sped off.
    24. 25. Victims of Sept 11 <ul><li>Victims : Sikhs have been victims of a hate backlash and harassment because of their appearance </li></ul><ul><li>Profiling : Sikhs have been victims of racial profiling at airports & on highways </li></ul><ul><li>Discrimination : harassment, racial profiling and employment discrimination is making it much harder for Sikhs to wear turbans and other articles of faith - a basic constitutional right </li></ul>Mr. Balbir Sodhi was killed in Arizona
    26. 27. Similarities? 19 Terrorists 0 with Turbans 0 with Beards 0 were Sikhs Where is the cause for concern?
    27. 28. Similarities? Head Coverings? Compare the Turbans
    28. 29. Muslim Headcoverings <ul><li>Mideast headcoverings different </li></ul><ul><li>Not a mandatory religious requirement </li></ul><ul><li>Very rarely seen in the western hemisphere </li></ul><ul><li>Viewed as passé by some Muslims </li></ul>
    29. 30. Summarizing
    30. 31. Questions?