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Poet, Singer, and Activist

First Lady of a Different Kind in a Different Land: Preet Didbal the First Lady Sikh Mayor, in the U.S. is Living Her American Dream

Posted by on Dec 7, 2017 in Discussion, Sikh Council of Central California | 0 comments

In a city domain, the First Lady is an honor which is customarily bestowed upon the wife of the elected City Mayor. Preet Didbal on the other hand made history by becoming not just a First Lady of Yuba City but the First Sikh Lady Mayor in her own right in the United States of America.

Yuba City means a lot to our Sikh American community. Historically speaking, it welcomed however reluctantly our Pioneers from Punjab, when they came looking for work 100 years ago. With the passage of time slowly but surely, the next generations are winning the hearts of fellow Americans by working side by side for the common good and becoming one of them. Yuba City is now the home for the largest Sikh Parade coinciding with the Gurpurv of the founder of the Sikh faith, Guru Nanak.

There is still a long way to go but Yuba City made history by being magnanimous and electing its First Sikh Woman Mayor of Yuba City first ever in the nation. Tuesday evening, it was the swearing in ceremony at the Yuba City Civic Center.

On behalf of the Sikh Council of Central California, I along with Charanjit Singh Batth, we affectionately call the “Raisin King” travelled 300 miles from the central valley Fresno to attend the swearing in ceremony. We are so glad we did. It was a very exciting moment to watch the switching of chairs and passing on of batons between the incumbent and the new mayors, a white male and a Sikh woman respectively and witnessing history in the making.

There are other Sikh American mayors across the country. Ravinder Singh (Ravi) Bhalla for instance was elected last month as mayor in Hoboken, New Jersey. But Yuba City made history of a different kind, which is important on 3 important counts:

First : Preet Didbal is not only the first woman Mayor of Yuba City but a first Punjabi Sikh American woman elected in the nation. This shatters many barriers and opens door for many others like her especially in minority communities such as the Sikh Americans, who are minority within minorities.

Secondly: It will go some way to dispel some of the misgivings about the Sikh Americans. Sikhs have been misidentified with Islamist terrorist group, which they are not. They have been subjected to bullying and hate crimes after the 9/11 Islamist terror attacks, which are on the rise since the last elections in America.

Thirdly: Her election is very much in keeping with the need of the hour worldwide in general and the United States of America in particular. As the former American president said, “It’s time to put women in charge. Men Seem To Be Having Some Problems These Days”. Although Obama didn’t name names, he was clearly referring to the still growing number of men in media, politics and entertainment who’ve recently been accused of misconduct, including harassment and assault especially on women. “Not to generalize but women seem to have a better capacity than men do, partly because of their socialization,” Obama added. According to Congressman John Garamandi, “When women succeed America succeeds.”

With her dedication, character and commitment demonstrated for over 20 years serving her community in her home town, Preet Didbal is well poised to lead the way forward.

About Yuba City:
With a population of about 65,000, Yuba City is a city in Northern California United States. It is located near the Feather River at the base of the Sutter Buttes, known as the smallest mountain range in the world. Just 40 miles north of Sacramento Capitol, Yuba City is the agricultural, economic, and social hub of the Yuba-Sutter Region, providing a unique blend of urban amenities and small-town environment.

Who is Preet Didbal?
Preet Didbal is a Sikh American woman smashing through cultural and gender barriers. Born and brought up in Yuba City, California, she was sworn in as mayor of her hometown Tuesday last evening, making her the nation’s first Sikh American woman to serve as mayor. Didbal, whose family emmigrated from India in 1968, her success is a perfect embodiment of the American Dream her parents sought. To succeed however is always easier said than done. It needs a lot of commitment, hard work and discipline. There is no doubt her achievements will empower and inspire other young women to further break through the barriers of gender.

On behalf of the central valley community, while we thank the citizens of Yuba City for making the informed decision, we wish Preet Didbal and the entire Yuba City team the very best in the future! .

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Fighting Progressive fights for Inclusiveness & Diversity: Ellen Corbett, a Charming California Senator Wearing a New Hat!

Posted by on Nov 15, 2016 in Discussion, Featured, Sikh Council of Central California | 0 comments

Pashaura Singh Dhillon with Sen. Ellen Corbett in her office- Capitol Sacramento

Pashaura Singh Dhillon with Sen. Ellen Corbett at the Capitol. Seen above in her office is the picture of her Great Grandfather, Eminent Irish Freedom Fighter in Military Uniform. 

Fighting Progressive fights for Inclusiveness & Diversity:

Ellen Corbett was a Senator leading the house when Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. 154 (Gray) was introduced and passed by the California legislature. Under her leadership at that time, the bill sailed through the Senate also. Relative to pupil instruction and filed with Secretary of State August 21, 2014, this measure would acknowledge and applaud the Modesto City Schools’ initiative and achievement in teaching the unique World Geography-World Religions class as a grade 9, which also include Sikh religion. This was a required course successfully taught for the last 15 years in the Modesto City School District only, and would recommend that the class be considered for adoption by other school districts throughout the California state. This was considered helpful while the curriculum is being updated in the 2017 text books.

ACR 154 (Gray) Modesto Model Proclamation

ACR 154 (Gray) Modesto Model Proclamation

Now changing hats Ellen Corbett has been elected for East Bay Regional Parks Board. Under the new regime taking charge after the Presidential Election, this is going to be a very challenging position indeed.

Ellen Corbett

Ellen Corbett

Knowing her strength, we expect her to use her passion and valuable legislative experience to protect, preserve and enhance our environment we and our children live in. I congratulate and wish her all the very best in her new position. I am delighted to share her email after her win:

Dear Pashaura,

I want to thank all of you for your encouragement, generosity and support during the last few months of my campaign for East Bay Regional Parks Board. Because of your help, we won! I look forward to bringing my lifetime of legislative experience and environmental advocacy to our park system. When I entered this race, I vowed to protect and preserve our precious open space and parklands. In light of the results of the Presidential Election, we need progressives at every level of government to defend our values more than ever. While we achieved our goals and ran a very successful campaign, we have many challenges ahead. I am grateful that because of your support I will be able to continue to represent you as a steward of our environment. I cannot thank you enough. We did it!
Sincerely,
Ellen Corbett

Members of Sikh Council of Central California Bharpoor Singh Dhaliwal, Charanjit Singh Batth, Joga Singh Mahil and Pashaura Singh Dhillon with California Legislators in the Assembly Hall.

Members of Sikh Council of Central California Bharpoor Singh Dhaliwal, Charanjit Singh Batth, and Pashaura Singh Dhillon with California Legislators in the Assembly Hall.

For Ellen’s message during the campaign, check it out at the following link: http://www.corbettforparks.com

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Relevance of Education & Awareness Month November designated by California to Guru Nanak Prakash Utsav

Posted by on Nov 16, 2013 in Discussion, Sikh Council of Central California | 1 comment

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Welcome address by Col. Hardev Singh Gill – Gen. Sec. SCCC

The Sikh council of Central California celebrated Sikh Awareness month November ACR 25 (Wieckowski) dedicated to Guru Nanak Prakash Utsav at Kerman Unified School District, Kerman, California on November 16, 2013. The conversational type seminar was attended by Superintendents of Kerman and Selma Unified School District, Superintendent Fresno County Office of Education, State Superintend Office of Public Instruction, President Fresno City Council, Chairperson Fresno Council of Governments, Sikh Research Institute, Sikh Coalition and Jakara amongst others. The multi functional school hall was almost filled with School going children, parents and teachers and principals from various schools. The introductory speech given by me as the Sikh Council of Central California(SCCC) Coordinator Education and Awareness Program explaining the relevance of education and awareness month of November to Guru Nanak Prakash Utsav follows:

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Me giving introduction re: relevance of Education & Awareness to GNPU

Good morning ladies and gentlemen!

We are celebrating some historic milestone achievements today. The Governor has signed the Curriculum Revision bill last year requiring public schools to teach about Sikhism in California. California law now shares with the Sikh American community the belief and necessity to ensure that California represents the diverse cultures of the world in our textbooks accurately. We at the SCCC  strongly believe that is the only way to ensure California’s children may develop an appreciation and understanding of contributions made by groups integral to the rich fabric of California’ culture.

Also November has been signed into law as Sikh Awareness and Appreciation month since 2010. We couldn’t be more pleased and happier to dedicate this month of Assembly Concurrent Resolution, in short ACR 25 on education and awareness to GNPU, as we have been doing it for the past 3 years since 2010. On behalf of the Sikh Council of Central California, whose members have been working very hard along with other like minded organizations and activists to achieve all this, a warm welcome to all in attendance! We greatly value your presence and appreciate your priceless time to join us on this occasion.

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The youngest attendee beneficiary trying to make sense of my written speech

November is an auspicious month for Indians of many faiths, including Hindus, Jains and particularly for Sikhs. The founder of the Sikh religion, Guru Nanak, was born in November 1469. Being a great teacher and a keen learner himself, he compared knowledge with light and life and likened ignorance with darkness and death. He travelled extensively, with many stories of his travels compiled in the Janamsakhis. One of my favorite stories is a story illustrating that there is always room for wisdom. One of the places Guru Nanak travelled to was Multan, a city in west Punjab now in Pakistan. It was known for having a disproportionate number of ascetics and holy men, which is why the famous saying about Multan is so popular even today:
ਚਾਰ ਚੀਜ਼ੇਂ ਤੋਹਫ਼ਾ ਏ ਮੁਲਤਾਨ ਅਸਤ,
ਗਰਦ-ਓ-ਗਰਮਾ, ਗਦਾ, ਗੋਰਿਸਤਾਨ, ਅਸਤ| meaning There are four things Multan is known for: Dust, Heat, Ascetics and Graveyards.

When Guru Nanak visited Multan, the holy men felt threatened that he was encroaching upon their territory. They felt there were already enough Holy men in Multan and that they didn’t need any more, so they sent him a non-threatening message by offering him a bowl of milk filled up to its brim, without any room for more milk. Guru Nanak immediately understood the message and instead of feeling threatened, he sensed their concern. He didn’t drink from the bowl; instead he took a jasmine flower from his pocket and placed it on top of the milk. It floated onto the surface. He returned the milk to the Holy Men, who understood the message and respected the method of delivery. The message is still as apt today as it was back then: there is always room for more wisdom and having more information can only serve to make things more diverse and interesting. And that is how the curriculum revision, and education and awareness month November is relevant to Guru Nanak Prakash Utsav .

Another reason November is so important to Sikhs is also rooted in history. We celebrate Bandi Shodh Divas in November when in 1619, the sixth Guru Har Gobind Sahab was released from jail along with 52 other political prisoners who had been imprisoned by the Moughal Emperor Jehangir. We celebrate Guru HarGobind’s actions to the Sikh commitment towards human rights.

Interestingly and in the same vein the City Council and the Mayor of Astoria-Oregon, issued a अproclamation last month commemorating the centennial celebration of the Founding of the Ghadar party, when the Punjabi Sikh pioneers in the early 20th century, along with other fellow Indians working in the Columbia River Basin, met at the Finnish Socialist Hall in Astoria in 1913 and formed the Ghadar party. Thousands of its supporters living in America and Canada at that time returned to India and inspired the countrymen to fight for the independence from Britain which was achieved in 1947. The Astoria proclamation recognizes the Ghadrites, who fought and died not only for the freedom of their home country India, but also for the innate rights of the immigrant worker to lead a dignified and discrimination free life here in America. So this year 2013 was also the 100 year anniversary of this historic meeting which recognizes the universal right of sovereign nations to independence and self rule. The Astoria City Council and Mayor Willis Van Dusen organized a seminar for two days on 4-5 October last month that included panel discussion, film screening and walking tours and concluded with the dedication of a plaque installed in the name of the Ghadrites at the Columbia Riverside walk in a park situated right in front of the historic Finnish Socialist Hall site in Astoria, where the Ghadar party was born in 1913.

The spirit of Abraham Lincoln’s speech as reaffirmed in his famous Gettysburg Address of 1863 that inspired the modern world and the Ghadrites at that time said: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” These American ideals then inspired the Ghadrites who were predominantly Punjabi Sikhs, as these are not far removed from the Sikh ideals which incidentally, are the fundamentals of human rights anywhere in the world.

Brief history for the benefit of those who may not be familiar with these Assembly Concurrent Resolutions in short called (ACR’s): How did they come about? 

In the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy, those perceived to look like the enemy, included South Asians, Arabs, Muslims of all nationalities, with the brunt of the attacks placed on the Sikhs with turbans and beards. It has become a normal part of a Sikh boy’s school experience to be called “Osama,” or “terrorist,” along with other religious based bullying. Several Sikh men have been murdered or attacked in hate crimes, starting just a few days after September 11th, and continuing even today. California has signed the curriculum revision into law and proclaimed November Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month in a valiant effort to educate people about who the Sikhs are, and to introduce some of our core beliefs.

This year ACR 25 (Wieckowski) was authored and presented on the Assembly floor by Assembly member Bob Wieckowski from the Bay Area with Assembly member Dan Logue as its principal Coauthor. Our local Assembly members from the Central Valley Henry Perea, Jim Patterson, Frank Biglow and several other Assembly members supported the Resolution with powerful speeches on the Assembly floor and became its Coauthors when asked by the Speaker of the House. With a powerful support from the Senate Majority leader Ellen Corbett, it sailed through the senate the next day.  So the ACR 25 was passed with a unanimous vote across the party lines as members from both parties became its Coauthors and strongly spoke in its support. It is worth mentioning here that the pre-runner of ACR 25 was also the Resolution passed by your own Sikh Council of Central California last year in its annual celebration of the Sikh Awareness Month November 2012 which was celebrated at the Lincoln High School in Selma.

Question now is how to take this law on to a next level:

While we greatly appreciate this initiative that the State of California has begun, an area of improvement is to create more of an impact through education in public schools and city administrations for the general public. The big question is:
1. Who should take the responsibility for implementation?
2. Most importantly, what more is expected from the community?

On the other hand, one of the strengths of these ACRs is that it is linked to the politics of post-9/11 America: notably the targeting of those who vaguely look like the enemy, and ironically none of the hijackers look like bearded or turbaned Sikhs, who are victims of hate crimes as a matter of routine.

Finally, awareness efforts through events such as this one in Kerman or last year in Selma and in Caruthers the year before, cannot in and of themselves change the continuing mindset and offset harm of designating its minorities as outside the American nation or as suspect or foreign, and thus dangerous.  But it starts with a platform to be heard and for the conversation

to  deepen and be ongoing, to educate not just others about who we are, but to educate ourselves, our children, and others. Whenever tragedy strikes, we often scramble to find ways of telling the world who we are not, rather than who we are. And that is a good place to start. And this is the best venue to meet.

On this note, I ask the first speaker to please take the floor and make the presentation.

The conversational type seminar including power point presentations lasted with a pin drop silence for almost three hours. Paraphrasing Fresno County Curriculum Advisor Dr. Catania, representing the Fresno County Office of Education, ” I am  going back with a lot of valuable information from the enlightening presentations and I commend the SCCC for organizing such events.” Dr. Catania had attended a similar event organized by the SCCC last year at the Lincoln Elementary Middle School in Selma.  If you are still reading this and are interested to read more, a full report of the event will be posted in due course with more pictures.

 

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Caruthers, Callifornia Makes History!

Posted by on Nov 29, 2011 in Discussion, Radio Show, Sikh Council of Central California | 0 comments

Caruthers, California Makes History

Caruthers, California Makes History

I first started working for the Fresno County Department of Agriculture in 1994 and still remember my supervisor, Paul Cook, telling me about Caruthers after he had described the satellite towns around Fresno which would fall under my jurisdiction. He looked at me jokingly and said, “Now don’t ask me where the hell is Caruthers. You have to go there to see it!”

When people talk about the Central Valley of California, they immediately think of Bakersfield, Tulare, Selma, Fresno, Madera or Modesto etc.. Not many people are aware of this sleepy, tiny town tucked away 30 miles southwest of Fresno en-route Hwy 41 South. Caruther  lies right in the middle of miles and miles of almond groves and vineyards, many farmed by Sikh American farmers, producing some of the best almonds and raisins in the world. Caruthers is also a base for the well-known Gill Insurance Company of Gill brothers and of course is the home for the Sikh American farmer who is considered to be the  largest Raisin Grower of the world, Charanjit Singh Batth, affectionately  nick named the “Raisin King.”

But Caruthers made a history of a different kind on November 19, 2011 when Randy Mehrten of  Fresno County Education Department presented the Sikh Council of Central California (SCCC) at the 542nd Guru Nanak Prakaash Utsav, its proclamation designating November 2011 as California Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month.  And the Assembly member Thirty First District Henry Perea persuasively spoke of working with other legislators in the Assembly to make it permanent.

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It is Here : November 2011 Sikh American Awareness and Appreciation Month

Posted by on Nov 6, 2011 in Discussion, Sikh Council of Central California | 0 comments

Guru Nanak Dev Ji: First Guru of the SikhsGreetings to one and all on the Guru Nanak Prakash Utsav in the month of November! The Sikh Council of Central California is celebrating Guru Nanak Prakash Utsav 18-20 November, 2011 in Caruthers, California.  Considering a befitting tribute on this occasion, the Sikh Council of Central California is organizing an informal conversational style seminars on Saturday, November 19 that is dedicated to spreading Sikh Awareness in schools,  whereby local school superintendents, administrators and  teachers  will meet the parents of school going children to discuss ways and means to work together for the good of all. So parents of currently school going children please note and must attend for the sake of their children.

Celebrating the birth of founder of the Sikh religion, Guru Nanak Dev Ji, in the month of November is one of the most auspicious months, not only in the history of the Sikhs, but also for humanity as a whole. Guru Nanak Dev Ji laid the foundation for the core beliefs of the Sikh religion through questioning many rituals and traditions that were accepted as fact during this time period. It gave the world a new way of thinking through the Sikh religion, which in such a young age has now become the fifth largest religion worldwide. Illama Iqbal (Sir Iqbal),  the most learned philosopher and cherished poet of all times wrote a couplet about Baba Nanak, (one can do a PhD thesis on it), ” Phir utthi Aakhir Sda Tauheed Ki Punjab Se,  Hind Ko ik Mrde Kamil Ne Jgaiya Khaab Se ! Wounded by the Great Poet’s poetry, I as a humble poet added my two liner, ” Oh Khaab Phir Supne bne, Such Vi, Sakaar Vee, Os Jago ne Bchaiee Hind see Azaab Se !  Bernard Shaw, one of the most renowned philosophers, playwrights, and satirists of the 20th century, once wrote that if this world was destroyed because of a nuclear war and few people survived, the only religion capable of guiding them to rebuild would be the Sikh religion. When asked why the Sikh religion couldn’t save the world from being destroyed in the first place? He replied that it could, but the Sikhs did not let its message to spread out.

All over the world wherever the Sikhs now reside, November has traditionally been the month to rejoice. Since the 9/11 attacks however, the followers of the Sikh religion, especially living in the “West” have had conflicting emotions. The terrorist attacks continue to affect us, not just as Americans, but as Sikhs with a visual presence because of our religiously mandated beard and turban. Images of a bearded and turbaned Osama bin Laden, immediately following the hijacked planes crashing into the Twin Towers being continually broadcast on television stations created the impression that Sikhs were the face of evil, resulting in numerous hate-crimes predominantly against Sikhs.

The Sikh religion has never been about spreading our message or of converting people. There is no such thing as a Sikh missionary or Sikh missions. It is perhaps for this reason that although Sikhs have served in both World War I and II, fought for England, France, and the United States, been living in the United States since the 19th century, and are involved in virtually every aspect of society the world over: politics, music entertainment, police and military, education, government, small business, agriculture, people still don’t know who the Sikhs are.

First 9/11 Backlash Fatality: Gas Station Owner Balbir Singh Sodhi Shot and Killed in Mesa, ArizonaIn a misguided act of “patriotism,” on September 15, 2001, Frank Roque wanted to “kill a Muslim” and ended up shooting and killing gas station owner, Balbir Singh Sodhi, a proud Sikh American, father, husband, brother, and small business owner in Mesa, Arizona in the first “backlash fatality.” And all because he “looked like a Muslim to him.” The irony that none of the 19 hijackers who committed this terrorist act that no sane member of any religion has ever endorsed, has largely gone unnoted as discrimination against Sikhs continues, despite many strides in the right direction being made.

Balbir Singh Sodhi cold blooded murder has been euphemistically described as a “backlash fatality,” and the mistaken identity of the Sikh identity resulting in other “backlash” hate crimes, is also described in various euphemistic language. None of it has been covered in any depth by any national media outlet.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer wants to remove Balbir Singh Sodhi's name from the state's 9/11 memorial and sell his memorial plaque as scrap metalTen years later, in April of 2011, in an unfathomable turn of events, Arizona Governer, Jan Brewer, was seriously deciding on signing a bill to remove Balbir Singh Sodhi’s name from the state’s 9/11 memorial and sell his memorial plaque as scrap metal! Thankfully, because of Sikh organizations like SALDEF and the word getting out through social media sites like FaceBook and Twitter, Brewer vetoed the bill, but the fact it was being considered is cause for alarm itself (read about it here).

Most recently this year (2011), two elderly Sikh gentlemen were shot and killed while going for a walk near their homes in Elk Grove, Sacramento, California. Nothing had been taken and they were targeted solely because of their Sikh identity.

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It’s Official: November 2010 is Sikh American Awareness and Appreciation Month!

Posted by on Oct 27, 2010 in Discussion, Sikh Council of Central California | 0 comments

Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism

Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism

Greetings to All on the Guru Nanak Prakash Utsav in the month of November.

Guru Nanak Prakaash Utsav (Celebrating the birth of founder of the Sikh religion) is just around the corner. All over the world wherever the Sikhs now reside, November has traditionally been the month to rejoice. On this auspicious day, there can be no other befitting tribute which may be bestowed to the Guru than the California legislature unanimously passing the Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. 181-Relative to California Sikh American Awareness and Appreciation Month in November 2010. And there can be no other message more powerful for humanity than what the most cherished philosopher/poet Sir Ilama Iqbal, a practicing Muslim, wrote about Guru Nanak:
“Phir Utthi Aakkhr sdaa Touheed Ki Punjab Sey
Hind ko ik Mard-E-Kamil Ne jgaieya Khaab Sey.

I haven’t translated the above yet, but let me know if you would like me to, and I will gladly do so. Readers familiar with the history of India in the 15th century and what the word ‘Khaab’ or khvaab means in this context will understand the sentiment behind the lines.

Despite Sikhism being the youngest of the religions, it is the 5th largest religion in the world. And yet not many people know who the Sikhs really are or what Sikhism is all about. Many people invariably confuse Sikhs with members of the Taliban or disciples of Osama Bin Laden because they equate all turbans as alike. Neither we, as Americans ,nor the entire civilized world can ever forget the terrorist attack of 9-11 on our nation. And ironically, none of the 19 attackers who committed the heinous crime of taking the lives of nearly 3000 totally innocent people had beards or turbans. However, they belonged to Al Qaida, whose leader (Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants) grow beards and wear turbans, as do the Taliban in Afghanistan. They were shown repeatedly by all TV channels.  This led many people to believe that Sikh Americans were one of those terrorists. The mistaken identity caused the hateful cold-blooded murder of Mr. Balbir Singh Sodhi on 9/15/2001 in Mesa, Arizona as well as many “backlash’ crimes that have not been covered in any depth by any national media outlet.

In America, and I am sure in many other countries as well,  Sikh boys have also been and are continued to be harassed in schools by their peers because of their long hair, turbans and patkas. Organizations such as the Sikh Coalition based in New York have taken a great step forward in addressing this issue. These incidents show the need for a greater understanding and educating people about some basic Sikh facts such as the fact that 99.9 % of the men wearing turbans (Pug or Dastaar) in the U.S. are Sikhs, hailing from India. 100% of the boys wearing mini turbans (patkas) and having unshorn hair are maintaining their Sikh identity.

Sikhism is not a branch of another religion. It is a monotheistic religion  founded in Punjab, India 540 years ago by Guru Nanak. It has approximately 26 million followers worldwide, largely living in Punjab, and is the 5th largest world religion. Sikhs have been in the U.S. for over 100 years and approximately number 700,000 of which nearly 40% live in California.

Sikh Temple in Stockton

Sikh Temple in Stockton

The first Sikh Temple in Stockton was built in 1912 by the Sikhs who later played a significant role in the freedom of India movement better known as Ghadar movement. Sikhs have served in all American wars, starting with Bhagat Singh Thind in  WWI. Some 85,000 Sikhs died fighting for the freedom of others in Europe during the wars they did not start or want. The first Asian American to be elected to the U.S. Congress, Dalip Singh Saund  (1956-1962), was a Sikh. And the serving Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh, who as the US President Barak Obama put it, “ when he speaks, world listens,” is a Sikh. Sikhs are enterprising and are in all professions from farming to fiber optics and everything in between.

Mine is not a mission in preaching a particular religion to the multiethnic and multicultural readers but the Sikhs need to use all possible means of educating the general public about who they are and ensure that their identity is not to be mistaken or abused. If this was the case with any other community, I as a poet and singer would appreciate it and support their effort the same way.

California Legislature recognized and acknowledged the significant contributions made by Californians of Sikh Heritage and has adopted the aforementioned ACR 181 (Logue). This measure seeks to afford all Californians the opportunity to better understand, recognize the rich history and shared principles of family values, monotheism, the tenants of Sikh faith and the important role that the Sikh Americans play in furthering mutual understanding and respect among all peoples. This ACR 181 Resolution – Relative to Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month, a shot in the arm so to speak, couldn’t have come at a better time if not too late for the auspicious day in November 2010, coinciding with the 541st Guru Nanak Prakash Utsav.

Contributing to this effort as a humble Sikh, permit me to draw your attention to my poem ‘Pag di Saanjh’; A tribute to the Sikh turban (Dastar/pag/pagri). Explaining the historical background, symbolism, struggle, sacrifice and successes against all odds, the poem is set to my voice and moving images by my son Navdeep Singh Dhillon. As always, I welcome your comments.


p.s. The story behind this Kavita ie, ‘Kavita di Kahani’ will follow in a later blog.

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