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Sikh Foundation Sikhi is not What but How: A 4-Part Series

Discussion in 'Sikh Organisations' started by spnadmin, Oct 20, 2013.

  1. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    All thanks go to the Sikh Foundation International an endless well of knowledge about Sikhs, Sikhism and Sikhi in the real world of the 21st Century http://www.sikhfoundation.org/


    The second image is a colorized photo of kar seva to cleanse the sacred pool of Harimandir Sahib following the carnage and destruction of 1984, source from Sikh Heritage at http://www.sikh-heritage.co.uk/heritage/golden T/gltemple.html


    http://www.sikhfoundation.org/family-corner/being-a-sikh-vlll-kiki-kapany/

    Kiki Kapany

    Kiki Kapany is the Vice President at Kikim Media. The company was founded in 1996 by Kiki Kapany and Michael Schwarz, whose work over the past 20 years has been honored with some of the most prestigious awards in broadcasting including three national Emmy Awards.



    Where were you born and raised?
    I was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1957. We moved to Woodside, California in 1960. I was raised here in the Bay Area but went to India almost every year of my life from 10 years old on. By the way I am still being raised.

    What made you become a Sikh?
    Nothing MADE me become a Sikh. I was born to a Sikh mother and father, and therefore was raised Sikh. As I grew up, I understood more fully what that meant.

    What are the core ideals of the religion or what do you like about Sikhism?
    There are many beautiful core ideals of Sikhism. The one that resonates strongly for me is Chardi Kalaa-ever rising spirit **. I also love the principles of 1) equality of women 2) sewa or selfless service and 3) defense of the defenseless. Last but not least I adore the teachings of Guru Nanak the most – these teachings are “Work, Worship and Charity” and “Gurmukh, Naam, Daan, Ishnan.” Naam refers to the Power, the Energy, the Universal Cosmic Life Force and the vibrant manifestation of God in creation.

    Chardi Kala is an important expression and a central idea in Sikhism for a mind frame that a Sikh has to accept, acquire and practice. Historically, in Punjabi, it is synonymous to “resilience” and is an expression encouraging strength in the face of fear or pain. It loosely means having a “positive, buoyant and optimistic” attitude to life and to the future. Always to be – in “high spirits”, “ever progressive”, “forward looking”, “always evolving,” etc are some other terms used to describe this state of mind. It reflects a focused and clear mental state of a Sikh based on an undying dedication to and contentment with the Will of God. In the face of fear or pain – stay dutiful, stay focused, fulfill your obligations.

    How does being Sikh affect your everyday life?
    Being Sikh makes me so proud and it makes me behave the best I can, as I am representing our religion and our ancestors and our Gurus amongst all people especially those in America. We must walk the walk….not just preach the teachings.

    What does it mean to you to be a Sikh?
    It means that I am a princess and I better act like it. I am representing all the Gurus and the Sikhs that have struggled and have flourished, and have paved the way for my life as a Sikh. It means I get to look upward and be positive and successful. It is a rich wonderful heritage and community. I believe religion is a very personal thing. I don’t wear it on my sleeve, I wear it deep in my heart and it comes out in how I behave, my obligations and my responsibilities. I try to always be a better person.

    Have you ever had to deal with racial profiling and/or prejudice?
    I have felt no racial profiling really. I think I grew up in an age that my parents and grandparents and ancestors paved for me…..where people see me as exotic and rich in heritage and culture….I have only felt special and privileged. As far as prejudice, yes I have felt prejudice towards women but nothing out of the ordinary.

    Is it difficult being a Sikh and living in America?
    No it is not difficult being a Sikh and living in America. Sikhism lives in your heart and in your soul; it is in your actions and in your behavior and in your world.

    After 9/11 have there been any mistaken accusations of Sikhs?

    Yes, please see this documentary about 9/11 mistaken accusations of Sikhs produced by our colleague: “A Dream in Doubt”

    How do you practice Sikhism in America?
    I think my answer to #7 answers this question as well. You can practice Sikhism anywhere- you need to pray every day and walk the walk. Behave according to the scriptures.

    Do you visit gurudwaras often? Why or why not?
    No I don’t visit gurdwaras often. In the 1960’s as a child, my mom and dad took us to kirtans more as there weren’t any gurudwaras then. We generally attend more social community events than gurdwara events.

    How can Sikhs educate Americans about Sikhism, and/or prevent discrimination against Sikhs?
    As I have always thought that producing a PBS documentary about Sikhism that would have a serious outreach plan into K-12 educational system would be a marvelous start. Educating America about Sikhism would only help Sikh youth to be accepted in this nation.

    How can we educate the youth about Sikhism?
    I think we should get Sikhism in the educational system so ALL children would learn about the religion. That would help Sikh youth to be understood, accepted, and proud. Sikh mothers have a big job in educating the community around her children and making the children proud.

    Do you think the dress code is still prevalent here in America compared to Punjab?
    I think the dress code is changing in America- it is more American, a bit more acceptable to wear American clothes vs. the salwar kameez or sari-but it is still important to maintain all other attributes of Sikhism.

    How do you think Sikhism has progressed here in America?
    Sikhism has had to change a bit to exist in America. I believe that Sikhism in America has grown to have less regimented and requirement of the visual attributes promoted by Guru Gobind Singh such as the turban and uncut hair.

    What are Sikhs?
    The Sikhs are a colorful, happy people of Punjab originally; they are the result of the struggles and beliefs of Guru Nanak over 600 years ago to survive beyond the restrictions imposed on life by Hindus. They originated in order to survive the caste system, vegetarianism, poverty, sexism, and classism. They are proud, strong, honest, upward spirits you can always rely on.
     

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  3. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    by Misha Kapany Schwarz

    Faith Interview - Prof. Pashaura Singh Phd
    Prof. Pashaura Singh Phd

    http://www.sikhfoundation.org/family-corner/being-a-sikh-vll-–-prof.-pashaura-singh-phd/

    Professor Pashaura Singh is the Dr. Jasbir Singh Saini Endowed Chair at UC. Riverside, California. He combines a command of classical and colloquial Punjabi and Hindi languages(including a working knowledge of Sanskrit) and a sound knowledge of traditional Sikh learning, manuscripts in archaic forms of Gurmukhi script and Indian religious traditions, with a mastery of contemporary issues in textual studies, canonicity, hermeneutics, literary theory, and history of religions.

    Where were you born and raised?
    I was born in Punjab, India and raised in a village there. I attended the village school, and we had a college and hospital there.

    What made you become a Sikh?
    I was born in a Sikh family. My mother was a very devout Sikh, and her influence was quite large on me. I also chose to be a Sikh, and have been a very proud Sikh right from the beginning.

    What are the core ideals of the religion or what do you like about Sikhism?
    You have to be a very honest and truthful person, and you have to earn your living through truthful means, remember God all the time, and share. Being Sikh means to be in high spirits all the time, to be a confident person, who can survive in difficult circumstances.

    How does being Sikh affect your everyday life?
    It affects profession, status in the family, almost everything depends on being a Sikh. You have to a truthful and honest person in the workplace, and loving and affectionate family person. Being a Sikh has been an effort in my life, and I have passed down Sikh ideals to my children. My daughter is now a doctor at Stanford doing research in bipolar medicine. She is very accomplished and worked very hard, and followed my example. My son in Chicago also follows Sikh ideals. You have to live by your religion, and pass it down to the next generations.

    What does it mean to you to be a Sikh?
    To me it means to belong to a religion which is worldwide at this moment. This religion is very scientific, and it encourages a rational thinking, and living a practical way of life. It means to belong to community of Sikhs around the world, who are highly accomplished. Even though we are a minority, we stand out because we are soldiers, doctors, scientists and highly accomplished people. It gives you a sense of courage. You will not find any beggar in India who is a Sikh. Sikhs work really hard. Sikhs are something to be proud of because they make up a small percentage of the 1 billion people living in India. We belong to a community that is very successful all over the world, with our determination and hard work. It means to have a sense of pride.

    Have you ever had to deal with racial profiling and/or prejudice?
    Not really, I went to India, and at Delhi airport they pat my turban, but this is a modern routine. I am singled out because of the turban, but this is a normal. There is no incident where I was racially abused or anything; no I have not experienced any racial abuse.

    Is it difficult being a Sikh and living in America?
    No, I don’t think so. If you are putting your ideals into practice, you will be admired by people around you. Colleagues, family, and friends will admire your work and sense of pride and admire you for being a distinctive person. You stand out because of your identity, turban, and other things, like religious symbols. It’s not really difficult. I have enjoyed living in Canada, since 1980, and then migrated to America in 1992. It has never been difficult living in North America being a Sikh.

    After 9/11 have there been any mistaken accusations of Sikhs?
    There have been a number of incidents which I am aware of, such as racial slurs and name calling. Even when I was in Michigan at the time of 9/11, I was walking and a group of young students remarked “Bin Laden go back to Afghanistan.” But they didn’t know who I was. It was a mistake in identity. In Arizona, the first Sikh was shot after 9/11.

    How do you practice Sikhism in America?
    I just follow my daily routine. I get up early in the morning and do the 5 prayers from memory, which I learned as a child. Then I listen to emotional singing on television coming from Amritsar every day, which is a very powerful experience. For 4 hours they broadcast the singing from Golden Temple. You listen and watch early in the morning. So I just practice Sikhism like that. Then I go to university and do my professorial job and teach students. That’s how I practice. I just practice Sikhism in the way that I was raised. When I drive my car, rather than wasting time, I listen to kirtan.

    Are there many events in the Sikh community in America? Can you tell us about these events and/or festivals?
    I attend the Kirtan in Yuba City. And every year in the first week of November, Sikhs around the world come to University, which is a very powerful celebration, because it is not only uniting the community, it exposes the community to non Sikhs, you can speak to the politicians and put your demands before them. There is also a big celebration in April, and Sikh plays in New York and Washington.

    Do you visit gurudwaras often? Why or why not?
    Sometimes I go to gurudwaras. They are not of interest to many people, but anyhow you just go there and are a part of the community. In India I visited many historical gurudwaras there, which was quite an experience.

    How can Sikhs educate Americans about Sikhism, and/or prevent discrimination against Sikhs?
    There should be an education program. Currently there are 8 chairs in North America in Sikh Studies, and I am holding the chair at UC Riverside. There is a chair in the Fremont area, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Michigan, Hofstra, Canada, and others. These chairs are doing a great job in spreading the message of Sikhism to Sikhs and non Sikhs, because non Sikhs have the same opportunity to learn the message. As Sunday school at gurudwaras, children have the opportunity to learn the language and religion. There, we are passing language and values to next generation. We also must open a public school where the standard is applied, in addition to the education and history of Sikhism. Many more universities have instituted the study of Punjabi. But we Sikhs have to do more, like mixing up with non Sikh communities and telling them about Sikhism. We get together in the gurudwara as a community, but we need to go out and reach out to other communities with dialogues, religious meetings, community events, and make our presence felt there as well. That will also make Sikhism exposed to the total population. After 9/11 Sikhs have done a great job in educating other people. There is a very positive development going on within the Sikh community. We need to spread the message of Sikhism.

    Is there a problem with the Sikh youth today? / How can we educate the youth about Sikhism?
    The problem is parents are not exposing the youth to Sikh values because as teenagers they are under tremendous peer pressure in America. For only 4 hours a week (in Sunday School) they are in a culture setting where they are exposed to Sikhism. If you are not exposed to Sikh values and culture then it dies down, and you have moved away from religion and culture. Parents do not pay much attention to children, and then children challenge the religion when they grow up, and parents aren’t able to answer the questions. One other fundamental problem is that gurudwaras are held in the Punjabi language, and many students only know English, so they should be exposed to the religion through that language. Sunday schools, summer camp, there are number of students participating in those events. There are many Sikh youth who aren’t exposed to Sikhism, and we need to educate them and bring them back to their cultural roots.

    How does Sikhism affect your profession?
    I am a Professor at UC Riverside and hold the Sikh Studies Chair, so I teach Sikhism, and also other religions of South Asia and the different scriptures of the world. Being a Sikh affects my students, because they listen to me, and then they learn from the textbooks. It has a positive affect in my profession. If they are Sikhs they will be inspired. If they are non Sikhs they will be inspired.
     

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  4. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    http://www.sikhfoundation.org/family-corner/being-a-sikh-vl-amarjit-singh/

    Amarjit Singh

    Where were you born and raised?
    I was born in a village in Punjab, and I was raised there too. The village was called Sahnewal.

    What made you become a Sikh?
    I was born as a Sikh, so everything that comes to me comes through my family.

    What are the core ideals of the religion or what do you like about Sikhism?
    There’s a lot, but the main thing is the three messages of Guru Nanak. 1) Naam Japna-meditation of God and remembering the One Eternal God. 2) Kirat Karni- to honestly earn ones living by physical and mental effort, and to stay truthful. 3) Vand Chakna- Share wealth within the community


    How does being Sikh affect your everyday life?
    Basically it depends on the individual. Any belief that a person keeps in high regard will direct their life. Whatever beliefs they have will affect their lives accordingly.

    What does it mean to you to be a Sikh?
    You always learn through your life. Being a Sikh is about understanding in advance. Due to changing technology and migrating communities, we must be clear in our message, and show on the outside what we feel on the inside. It is my duty to spread that message, and keep that message alive.

    Have you ever had to deal with racial profiling and/or prejudice?
    Yes, but this is a good thing, and the reason for that is, it spreads the message about who Sikhs are. Sikhs are always patted down at airports, but now Sikhs requested for the TSA to have a private area to be pat down in their turbans. I haven’t felt anything like that since I’ve been in America for the last 3.5 years.

    Is it difficult being a Sikh and living in America?
    No, because after 9/11 Sikhs have faced many problems in America and throughout the world, and people are trying to understand about the Sikh faith. I think that it’s not difficult here, you have freedom of speech and right to practice religion and faith, so I don’t think there is any problem in that.

    After 9/11 have there been any mistaken accusations of Sikhs?

    Yes, there were many mistaken accusations after 9/11. In those days I was teaching in England. I heard many comments and I heard about shootings of Sikhs in New York. All of this was because of a mistake in identity of the Sikh faith. President Bush has done a lot for the Sikh community by doing research about the Sikh faith, and that makes a big difference. Now people understand that Sikhs are a different culture and a different faith.

    How do you practice Sikhism in America?
    I do it in the same way they do in India. In India we have gurdwaras, and we have gurdwaras here too. We have freedom of practice here too. We celebrate festivals, gurus birthdays, and have other religious and cultural programs. The other benefit of practicing in America is we have included the white community, so now they have an idea of who Sikhs are. So it actually makes more sense practicing Sikhism here, because we have a multicultural community.

    Are there many events in the Sikh community in America? Can you tell us about these events and/or festivals?
    There are always events held in India that are also celebrated here. The birthdays of the Sikh Gurus, Vaisakhi, and there are also some Hindu festivals which Sikhs have been celebrating too, like Lori in the month of January. Vaisakhi is the main Sikh festival though. It is the time for the harvest season in India, and people celebrate it in full charm, and also on this day Guru Gobind Singh baptized the Sikhs for the first time in 1669.


    Do you visit gurudwaras often? Why or why not?
    Yes, there are many reasons for visiting gurdwaras. The first is when you go to gurdwara you get to know the congregation. You can’t get the congregation everyday at your home. It starts at 5:30 in the morning and lasts until 8:30 in the evening. If you go to page 94 of the Guru Granth Sahib, it tells you more about the importance of going to the gurdwara. Without seeing the guru, sleep doesn’t come, or at least that’s the belief of the 4th guru. Everyone is welcome to the gurdwara. That’s how the adults perceive the importance of the gurdwara. But the kids, we need to show them etiquette. They sweep the floors; clean the walls, wash the dishes, and serve in the kitchen area. It’s the parent’s duty to teach them the importance of gurdwara. That’s why I visit too.


    How can Sikhs educate Americans about Sikhism, and/or prevent discrimination against Sikhs?
    The main thing is the attittude of gurdwaras, and involving other communities. We invite American and white communities to our program, and we visit their programs as well. I always to go the Thanksgiving and Easter celebration at the church, and then I invite them to our celebrations at the gurdwaras. With this education, discrimination will be washed away automatically.

    Is there a problem with the Sikh youth today?
    Fremont, San Jose, Fresno we have a lot of Sikh population. But in the remote population, such as Redding, not a lot of people know about Sikhism. The problem with Sikh youth here is that there isn’t a lot of them, and they tend to feel out of place.

    How can we educate the youth about Sikhism?
    The parents must teach them etiquettes at home, and the community (the people that run the gurdwaras) must do their job as well. Every gurdwara started giving free Punjabi learning classes and free Sikh faith classes in the evening. So in the evening and weekends after regular school, the kids can come here and delve into their culture. We can organize camps for them, and take them out for a tour, and use types of leisure activities to teach Sikhism, so they don’t get bored.

    How does Sikhism affect your profession?
    I am a Head Priest for the Sikh Center, and I also coordinate outreach. The main thing in that is I have a good knowledge of both Punjabi and English, so I reach out to schools in the local areas. If I am doing a sewa in the langar halls, its giving me refinement and eliminate any bad thing in my mind separating rich and poor, low and high. We must always recognize the human ways as one. It makes me want to change the community in a different way, and make us one. Whatever beliefs you have will affect your life accordingly.

    Do you think the dress code is still prevalent here in America compared to Punjab?
    There are many religious places in the world which have turbans, but for Sikhs tying turbans has a different meaning. It comes from Guru Nanak’s time. No Sikhs cut their hair, so to keep their style they have a nicely tied turban to keep their hair contained. It’s like a crown for a Sikh. Removing a Sikhs turban is disgraceful and disregarding their beliefs, so that’s the importance of turban, and people should respect that.
     

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  5. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    http://www.sikhfoundation.org/family-corner/being-a-sikh-iv-dr.-i.j-singh/

    Dr. I.J Singh


    Dr. I.J. Singh is Professor Emeritus, Basic Sciences at the New York University and is also a writer and speaker on Sikh's and Sikhism in the diasporas. He stands astride both the East and West. Himself a citizen of the diasporas –born in India but having spent most of his life in the United States.



    Where were you born and raised?
    I was born in what is now Pakistan, northwest of India. In 1947 the country was partitioned, and we moved to what is now India. I’ve spent much of my life in New York, a little in India, and a little in Pakistan.

    What made you become a Sikh?
    I was born into a Sikh family, my parents and siblings were Sikh. You learn to do some practices that the family does but that does not make you come to terms with the religion that you are. I came to this country when there were only 2-3 Sikhs living in New York, and I lived in Oregon for a couple of years, and I was the only Sikh around. So a lot of people asked me what I was, so I had two choices: to walk away from Sikhism, or to learn about it. I think the most important thing about Sikhism is becoming a Sikh, not being one.

    What are the core ideals of the religion or what do you like about Sikhism?
    I can express the core of Sikhism in two words: Ik (one) Onkaar (god) – it’s not telling you that there is a Christian god, or Jewish god, or Hindu god, but one god for all. The difference between us and them disappears, because there is a universal God. There is no difference in gender, race, color, or ethnicity, so everyone is equal.

    How does being Sikh affect your everyday life?
    Any religion is a way a life, so what you do in life is determined by what the core values are, so I can see no difference in race, gender, caste, or ethnicity. Those values determine how you live. It gives you a sense of justice, liberty, fraternity etc.

    What does it mean to you to be a Sikh?
    It teaches me to live honestly, with dignity, and work hard. It teaches me to keep the universal connectivity of God, and share my wealth with other human beings.

    Have you ever had to deal with racial profiling and/or prejudice?
    Of course! In any society, fear of the stranger is universal. We always fear something that we don’t know what to make of. I was the only guy walking around in a turban in Portland, Oregon, so I would consider that racial profiling.

    Is it difficult being a Sikh and living in America?
    No more than anywhere else in the world. Less than 2% of the population of India is Sikh. Therefore, I appear as a stranger to many people. I don’t think there is great difficulty being a Sikh in America. I would like to tell people there have been many other terrorists in the country, none of which were Sikh.

    After 9/11 have there been any mistaken accusations of Sikhs?

    I was walking on the street one day with a “white american” fellow, with a nicer suit and briefcase than mine, and we were having a conversation about Sikhism. He asked me a question “If your people came here one hundred years ago, why did they not leave your religion back home?” I looked at him and realized he was a white American, not a Native American.

    How do you practice Sikhism in America?
    I stick to the core values, and I think that the core values are pretty universal.

    Are there many events in the Sikh community in America? Can you tell us about these events and/or festivals?
    In people’s cultures there is always a history, and there are always historical markers or days that are important, and the communities celebrate them and bond over them. And we celebrate them too, like the day Guru Gobind Singh established the Sikhism as an official religion.So there are 4-5 holy days which we celebrate, but it depends on the community on how much they celebrate them. It is a good way for people to come together. A lot of people come to the gurudwaras because at the end, there is free food. This is a very fun day for all that come to celebrate.

    Do you visit gurudwaras often? Why or why not?
    Not as often as one would think I do, there is one perhaps 40 minutes away by drive and the other is a 15 minute drive, and I try to go there maybe twice a month.

    How can Sikhs educate Americans about Sikhism, and/or prevent discrimination against Sikhs?
    Discrimination occurs because people don’t know you, it occurs from not malice but ignorance, if we interact with them it would end. It’s a two way street, we came here as the new kids on the block, so they not only need to learn about us but we need to learn about them. It depends on how well we form human relationships with our neighbors, neighbors need to know each other, and we need to play our part in that, and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes the interactions fail, and we need to pay attention to those things, more than we do.

    Is there a problem with the Sikh youth today?
    I’m an old man, in that sense, if people go back there was a problem with the young people as well. There is always a problem with the youth that is the way the world has always been, and that is the way the world will always be. I don’t think there is a problem with the youth, they are born new into this world so there are many things that attract their attention, and Sikhism is not the only thing. But they need to learn about the traditions and grow an interest in it, and then they will truly enjoy Sikhism.

    How can we educate the youth about Sikhism?
    By making it available and providing opportunities, and they will learn. I’ve spent almost 50 years in this country teaching anatomy at the university. And my first lecture to medical students, I told them “I’m not here to teach you anatomy, I’m not here to teach you anything, you are not empty buckets that I can fill with information, what I can do is make it possible what your talents and inclinations allow, whatever they allow you to learn, you will learn, and I will be there to assist the process.” So I think we have to use the same model here, not force the information in to them.

    How does Sikhism affect your profession?
    Not directly, but how does any religion affect what you do, because it’s a way of life and provides you a sense of ethics. Sikhism is unique in one sense, it doesn’t tell you “if you’ve done this wrong, then go say 10 prayers and your slate will be clean”. It gives you a sense of ethics. It tells you how to view and treat the world around you. It tells you how to do the work that you do. It tells you how to live your life. It defines everything I do, whether I’m teaching a course in science, or teaching a course in Sikhism.
     

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