Sikh News Explaining Sikhism

Jun 1, 2004
Explaining Sikhism
By Bruce Buchanan, Staff Writer
News & Record

GREENSBORO -- Jasbir Singh doesn't want to push his religion on others; he
simply wants people to understand and respect it.

Greensboro Day School officials produced a curriculum to accompany a new
educational film called "The Sikh Next Door." Singh, a Greensboro Day
parent who worked on the project, asked the school to participate, and
school officials said yes.

"It was one of those deals we couldn't refuse," said Ralph Davison, the
headmaster at Greensboro Day. "It happens to coincide very deeply with the
school's values."

Sikhs from across the country decided to make the film because some Sikh
students were bullied and harassed at school after the Sept. 11, 2001,
terrorist attacks because they were confused with Muslims.

In April, a Sikh student at UNC-Chapel Hill was attacked near campus by
three teens who called him "Osama bin Laden." The teens were convicted of
ethnic intimidation and assault.

In the film, Sikh students from across the country explain their religion
and its customs in their own words.

Aprille Black, Greensboro Day's middle and upper school librarian, said she
and others from the school collaborated with the film's producers and Sikh
educators to offer suggestions on making the film more useful to teachers.
They also produced a curriculum for middle and high school students, which
includes lesson plans and classroom exercises, to accompany the film.

Several schools across the country, including Greensboro Day, are already
using "The Sikh Next Door."

The Sikh religion originated in the Punjab region of India and Pakistan.
The religion emphasizes equality and, like Christians and Jews, Sikhs
worship a single god. There are about 500,000 Sikhs in the United States
and 22 million worldwide, making it the world's fifth-largest religion.

Guilford County's Sikh population is small.

The Rev. Mark Sills of FaithAction International House, a Greensboro
organization that promotes religious tolerance, estimates that fewer than
100 live in the county.

Sikhs do not cut their hair for religions reasons, according to the film.
Men cover their heads with turbans called pagri.

Singh said Sikh men often are mistaken for Muslims because they wear
turbans. However, they are different religions.

Greensboro Day students screened the 15-minute film last week, and Singh's
daughter, ninth-grader Gulnaar Kaur, spoke to her classmates about it. In
the Sikh religion, men traditionally take the last name Singh, while women
use the last name Kaur.

"It's not something to be feared," Gulnaar said.

She has attended Greensboro Day since first grade and fits right in with
students from different backgrounds. She plays piano and is on the school's
field hockey team, which her dad helps coach. Her brother, Anoop Singh,
graduated from Greensboro Day in 2003 and attends Duke University.

"The beauty of Greensboro Day School is being a part of the family," Singh

Although the film focuses on Sikhs, Singh said its lessons of diversity and
tolerance can be applied to all religions and cultures.

"We all want to be respected for our differences," Singh said.

Contact Bruce Buchanan at 373-7078 or


Jul 11, 2004
My cousins went through the Greensboro Day School system too.

The school administration LOVES Sikhs. I remember the principal at that time quoting from the Guru Granth Sahib when they had a "World religions week". Both cousins never recieved any problems, and went on to graduate from Duke University.