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
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?Sikhism dictates that Sikhs believes in the Will of God (Bhana) and that God is without enemies (Nirvaar) and is always merciful. Hence acceptance of his Will is in the interest of and for the benefit of His Creation, even if at times one suffers severe hardship. This attitude of “Chardi Kala” is to allow one to sail through the ups and downs of life with as little harm as possible to the individual. To join and help others in their hour of need is part of this “Chardi Kala” spirit.”
Quote from Wikipedia
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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