Friday, October 7, 2005

Wanted Sikh Volunteers

Volunteering- Very important for bringing Sikh awareness in America-and it is all Seva.

Every time I hear of a hate crime against a Sikh or even non-Sikh, I just feel so helpless and wished I could do something to bring awareness about Sikhism to my fellow American citizen. I don’t want to go out there and preach Sikhism to them, but I do want them to be at least aware of as to who we are, what we believe in, why we wear turbans, we are not Moslems or Hindus, and most importantly we are as much part of American life as anybody else. What does being in an American norm mean anyways? I guess it depends whom you ask. If you ask an Italian, it would be different than an Irish or a woman, a child, or a Jew, a Christian, or a Cuban or an African or an environmentalist. Yes! If a Sikh is an initiated (baptized) Sikh, he or she does not drink, smoke, and eat meat. Now would you consider that person being not a normal American? Is a Catholic more normal than a Baptist or a Jew or a Sikh? Is a cowboy hat more normal than a baseball hat, a rapper’s hat, or Santa Clause’s hat or my turban? I don’t know.

Anyways, without going off track further, what I want to say is that if more and more Sikhs with turbans volunteer for various causes, and take active role in learning normal American life, things will definately change over time. If every Sikh man or woman in the country, starts to volunteer to tutor kids during or after school, help in hospitals, shelters, sports activities, speak kindly, be good role models things will change. You don’t even have to mention the word Sikh even once, it is your turban along with the actions that will be enough to show future generations and other people that Sikhs are good. I don't even consider my self a kind speaker and learning how to be one. If you have a music talent or know how to do kirtan or story telling, go out and play music at the senior centers or kids hospitals or voluteer to tell stories at a camp etc. My kids and I did that in Espanola, New Mexico along with 15-20 other Sikh kids and adults in a senior hospital, the joy we brought to the faces of those seniors was just amazing. It is all seva after all.

I look at this way, if 100 people in America, see my turban and my good actions out there today, those are the hundred in whose minds, the curiousity I have raised. We have to be conscious about every action that we take, even little things such as showing a smile or shaking hands or saying hello or Sat Sri Akal or Namaste go a long ways. But it is us that have to make the effort even if we feel other person looks or sounds rude. In Martinez, my wife and I know probably around 500-1000 people if not more. First thing, we stand out as a couple, she being non-Sikh, white and I being an Indian with a turban. Then we have three kids in different schools, in different sports, soccer coaching etc. A lot of the times, people know me and talk to me but I have no clue who they are. We love this town where we live, since it brings a community feeling and people are very nice. The number above would just be 10-20 if we would just stay in house, watch TV most of the times and not be active in the community. The point is that it is we as Sikhs that have to make a lot more effort to bring a change in the mindset of our fellow Americans before the next terrorist attack happens and more Sikhs are attacked because of ignorance.


Blogger nikunj mahajan said...

dear manjit
sat sri akaal. i have been reading articles on your blog and i find them very interesting.. its amazing that you have been so close to the Punjabi culture even though you r in US for past 20 yrs... tusin taan kamaal kar ditti. i am a Punjabi working in delhi on a non profit website based on the participatory model. we have a section on global india. I would appreciate if you could post some of your articles on the life of Punjabis. we won't be able to pay you but you get a bigger platform to share your views.

the url is :
take a look.

7:18 AM, May 17, 2006  

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