Archive for the ‘Multifaith’ Category.

Religious Tolerance or Religious Embrace? Memorial Service Honoring the Six Slain Sikhs in Oak Creek, Wisconsin

“Spreading Love and Peace, Defeating Hate” Attendees and Speakers at the

Garden State Sikh Association Gurdwara, 977 Washingtonvalley Road, Baskingridge, NJ

on August 24, 2013

 

Bridgewater, New Jersey- UNITED SIKHS and the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness (NJOHSP), together organized a vigil/memorial service in remembrance of those who lost their lives in the Oak Creek Tragedy last year. The memorial event was hosted by the Garden State Sikh Association Gurudwara Sahib in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. The theme and topic of the event was “Spreading Love and Peace, Defeating Hate.”

The congregation was addressed by Hon’ John Jay Hoffman, Acting Attorney General of New Jersey and Mr.Edward Dickson, Director, NJ Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness. AG Hoffman was kind enough to attend the service with his wife and spend a Saturday afternoon interacting with community members. AG Hoffman while addressing the gathering said that he was extremely saddened by the tragedy in Oak Creek. He ensured that Sikhs and other communities should be rest assured that his department will not sleep unless they have secured all houses of worship in the state. He discussed how uncomfortable he was using the term “religious tolerance” in explaining how people should be respectful of different faiths and said the correct word should be “embrace.” He explained we should embrace people of other faiths and not just tolerate them.

AG Hoffman also praised Director Dickson along with the NJ Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness for the work their continuous efforts. Director Dickson informed the gathering about the achievements of his department including conducting workshops over the past year to train security coordinators and community members of various houses of worship in the state. He went over a dashboard and a timeline of OHSP’s work over the year in engaging closely with Presidents and security coordinators of various houses of worship to conduct workshops and threat based trainings on how to secure houses of worship, how to identity threat factors and suspects, and active shooter workshops. Director Dickson informed of OHSP’s significant achievements on the aforementioned fronts after the Wisconsin massacre and will continue to conduct more training and workshops. He acknowledged and complimented the efforts of UNITED SIKHS in working together with NJOHSP to develop a Sikh primer for law enforcement. He also acknowledged the efforts of UNITED SIKHS in working with the Department of Education to include information on Sikhs and Sikhism in the New Jersey School curriculum.

The Sikh turban is still seen as a symbol of hostility in the paranoia that has gripped the nation after 9/11. All the aforementioned incidents indicate that there is still a section of people that equate the Sikh turban with Islamic extremism.  These people fail to understand the fact that this is a country of immigrants; that their fathers or forefathers were also immigrants and there is no set of rules, or a set definition of an American appearance. There is still a pressing need for more awareness campaigns to educate people about the fifth largest religion in the world, Sikhism.

Dr.Gurparkash Singh, Director of UNITED SIKHS, gracefully conducted the stage as the Master of Ceremonies for the event. Other speakers at the event include: Nina Chanpreet Kaur, MSEd; Scot Pruiksma, Founder of Interlocking Arms; Howard Norgalis & Filipe Pedrose, Councilmen

Bridgewater Township; Rev Moises Bogdady; Dr. Ellen J Lindeman; Timothy Burk; Anju Bhargava, Hindu American Seva; Dr Ali Chaudry, Islamic Society of Basking Ridge; Hafiz Samiullah Chaudhry, Ahmadiyya Muslim Community; and Micheal Tiger, Anti-Defamation Leagure, NJ.

UNITED SIKHS Staff Attorney Manmeet Singh spoke on the topic of “Spreading Love and Defeating Hate.” He narrated Bhai Kanahaiyaji’s story to to illustrate the importance of the principle of spreading love and defeating hate in Sikhism. The story contained an account from 1704 during the battle of Anandpur Sahib when fellow Sikhs complained to Guru Gobind Singh ji, pointing out that Bhai Kanahaiyaji was serving water to the wounded soldiers from the enemy camp. Guru Gobind Singh summoned Bhai Kanhaiya and explained that he had received a complaint about his actions on the battlefield.

Guruji said, “These brave Sikhs are saying that you go and feed water to the enemy and they recover to fight them again – Is this true?” Bhai Kanhaiya Ji replied “Yes, my Guru, what they say is true. But, I saw no Mughal or Sikh on the battlefield. I only saw human beings. And, … Guru Ji, .. they all have the same God’s Spirit? – Guru Ji, have you not taught us to treat all God’s people as the same?” The Guru was very pleased with the reply. Bhai Kanhaiya Ji had understood the deep message of Gurbani correctly. Guru ji smiled and blessed Bhai Kanhaiya. Guru Ji said, “Bhai Kanhaiya Ji, You are right. You have understood the true message of Gurbani”.

Mr. Manmeet Singh also spoke about the Wisconsin massacre and the various hate crimes that were perpetrated against Sikhs around the country even after the massacre. Prominent among them were the recent scribbling of the word “terrorist” twice on the walls of a Gurudwara in Riverside, California; the vicious attack on 82 year old Sikh, Piara Singh, after he had just exited his local Gurudwara for a morning walk. Singh’s attack was confirmed as a hate crime; the attacker, a 29 year old male named Gilbert Garcia was arrested. The police reported that upon Garcia’s arrest, he shouted that he hated “those people” and wanted to bomb their temples. The shooting in Port Orange, Florida where a Sikh man named Kanwaljit Singh was shot multiple times while driving a car with his 13 year old son sitting next to him, was also mentioned.

UNITED SIKHS thanks Mr.David Leonardis, OHSP, and Director Dickson for leading and coordinating this event; as well as all the activities and efforts that OHSP had undertaken in the aftermath of Wisconsin to make all the Houses of Worship safe and secure; and  their efforts to achieve grants for those houses of worship who need them. We strongly believe that such trainings play a pivotal role in thwarting similar attempts by misguided people to attack the congregation. We hope that these trainings, workshops and grants will continue until there are strong systems in place at all houses of worship to prevent such tragedies. We also thank AG Hoffman for his promise to the community, and his inspiring and insightful message that he gave to the  congregation. Special thanks to all the speakers who took time out of their busy schedules to give insight on the topic at hand.

Please click here for a link to the album from the event.

 

CA Elderly Sikh Man Attacked, Humiliated, Disrespected: Bias Crimes MUST be STOPPED!

Written by Sharon Persaud and Anisha Singh

 

Fresno, California– BIAS ATTACK, HATE CRIME, BRUTALITY… no matter what it is called, IT MUST STOP NOW! This week, a California, elderly, Sikh man was violently attacked outside the gurdwara he faithfully attends to practice his religion. Eighty-two year-old Piara Singh, was beaten with a steel pipe outside a Fresno temple in what police believe is a hate crime. Singh spends his nights at Nanaksar Sikh Temple in Fresno, California, to watch over the grounds and prepare langaar, the free daily meals that Sikh temples traditionally serve. According to his nephew, Charanjit Sihota, on the morning of Sunday, May 5th, 2013, , Singh left the temple grounds for a morning walk dressed in his usual traditional clothing. Singh’s son, Kawal Singh, was driving to the temple to pick up his father when up ahead he saw a man jump off his bicycle and beat Singh with something metal. He honked the horn and called 911.[1] Singh is expected to make a full physical recovery after suffering a punctured lung, fractured jaw and staples in his head due to lacerations.

But what about Singh’s emotional recovery? Too often, members of the Sikh community become victims to hate crimes, bias-based bullying, and discrimination throughout the United States.While we live in a country created by many cultures, races, and religions, we still see these attacks frequently occurring even in the 21st century. Because Singh wears a turban on his head does not mean he is any different from the Caucasian man waiting for the bus, or the African American man entering the store, or the Hispanic woman playing with her child in the playground. Just like them, he is a husband, father, grandfather, brother, friend.  He is a human being regardless of the faith he follows.

Representative Judy Chu (D-CA), co-chair of the American Sikh Caucus, released a solemn statement to the public stating, “My heart broke when I heard about the suspected hate crime on Piara Singh, an elderly Sikh man dedicated to his faith and his community. He was doing what he did every day, volunteering at his gurdwara, when a man viciously attacked him.  In the wake of Oak Creek and Elk Grove, it is clear that hysteria and stereotyping are still far too common.  We must combat the growing wave of violence and intolerance that threatens the safety and civil liberties of all Americans, including the Sikh American community. That is why I have pushed the FBI to finally begin tracking hate crimes against the American Sikh community.  This will help law enforcement officers in every locality to do all they can to prevent violence against this – and all – communities.  We cannot wait any longer.”

Since September 11, the world has been gripped by fear and many minority communities, including the Sikh community, have suffered from the backlash of misinformation and ignorance. The first reprisal killing after Sept 11 was of a Turban wearing Sikh in Arizona, who was mistaken as belonging to the group which perpetrated the 9/11 incident. Sikhs, due to their unique appearance, have since been a target of hate and bias crime and discrimination. Every week, UNITED SIKHS receives reports from Sikh adults and children who are victims of race-based hate crimes and those being denied their right to practice their religion. A Sikh’s right to wear his articles of faith has been challenged in schools, the workplace, prisons and other public places. Sikhs also suffer increased harassment by TSA officials at airports because they wear the Turban.

While the fear of another attack is understood, nothing justifies channeling that fear through violence towards others based on stereotypes perpetuated by the media.  UNITED SIKHS continues to work to stop the cycle by creating awareness of these issues amongst authorities and the public through talks, seminars, and multifaith events. In addition, UNITED SIKHS offers advice, counsel and legal representation to those whose legal rights are being denied by errant and mis-informed authorities and the public.

Manvinder Singh, UNITED SIKHS Director, attended the town hall meeting at Nanaksar Sikh Temple in Fresno on the evening of Tuesday, May 7th to discuss this vicious attack on Piara Singh. There were 300 attendees including police officials and Fresno’s Police Chief that spoke out against hate crimes and the need to educate society on the Sikh religion and its worshippers.

 

1. Marcum, Diana. “Sikh Man, 82, Beaten with Pipe in Fresno in Suspected Hate Crime.” Los Angeles Times., 8 May 2013. Web. 9 May 2013.

 

Mr. Piara Singh

Mr. Piara Singh

UNITED SIKHS Welcomes Appointment of Melissa Rogers As New White House Faith Based Director

Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships

New York, NY, March 15, 2013:  UNITED SIKHS  welcomes the appointment of Melissa Rogers as Special Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Continue reading ‘UNITED SIKHS Welcomes Appointment of Melissa Rogers As New White House Faith Based Director’ »

UNITED SIKHS represents Sikh Community at the Annual Event of UN SUB-COMMITTEE FOR THE ELIMINATION OF RACISM

UNITED SIKHS participated and represented Sikh Community at the SACRED SEASON PROGRAM organized by Sub-Committee for the Elimination of Racism on October 18th at Baha’i International Community’s United Nations Office in New York. The event invited leaders and speakers from different communities and religions to get together and converse on their views on the topic: THE IMPACT OF RELIGION, SPIRITUALITY AND BELIEFS ON RACISM, MIGRATION AND DEVELOPMENT. The event was facilitated by Dr. Bobbi Nassar, Co-Chair Ngo Committee on Human Rights and Mr. Bruce Knotts, Chair Ngo Committee On Human Rights.

Prabhkaran Singh, staff attorney with UNITED SIKHS was one of the speakers and represented Sikh Community at the event. “We as Sikhs believe that there is only one God, the same God for people of all religions. One of the motto of Sikhism and the UNITED SIKHS tag line is to “Recognize the Human Race as One”, essentially a class-less society where racism is not permitted. Every one should be allowed to exercise their right to freedom of movement & and residence within the borders of each state.” said Prabhkaran Singh. Bruce Knots in his closing remarks spoke about the challenges Sikh community has been facing since 9/11 and commended the community for its persistence.

UNITED SIKHS celebrates the achievements of Team GB during the London 2012 Games

        

As London closed the London 2012 games with a spectacular final closing ceremony of the Olympics with the Paralympics. UNITED SIKHS celebrates the achievements of Team GB for their outstanding success in the games with over 180 medals in total at the Olympics and Paralympics games.

Comments from volunteers who join in with Langgar2012

“Honestly, I loved every single second of it from trying to stay awake the whole night along with my friend Jasdeep who successfully managed to stay awake whereas I accidently fell asleep for like 20mins, to meeting everyone at the Seven Kings Gurdwara at 6am, to learning how to make Roti Roll Langgar with sevadaars from up and down the UK as well as that Canadian camera bhaji, to serving to the community at East Ham High street as well as at Baba Fauja Singhs torch relay, to running along with Baba Fauja Singh and all his supporters, to coming back to the Seven Kings Gurdwara and eating some Pakoreh with some Roti Rolls I had in my jumper pocket from earlier, and to the worst and hardest bit of the day when saying our goodbyes and departing away from the big family. Overall I would rate the day 500 out of 5 and I can’t wait to see the UNITED SIKHS sevadars soon! :)” Harchand Singh – Langgar 2012 sevadar at Seven Kings Gurdwara

– What was your favourite moment of the event?
“Favourite part was waking up at 6am and making the Langgar because we were all together and united as one to serve Langgar to the community.
I learnt how to interact and work as a team with the other members in Gurdwaras to come together and organise a successful public event”
Palvinder Kaur – Langgar 2012 Volunteer Seven Kings Gurdwara

– What was your favourite moment of the event?
“Hmmm… I’d say the initial moment when we arrived at Seven Kings, we were welcomed to be part of the team immediately and this set a good foundation for the rest of the day. Felt like family as we all worked together with no politics, all for the greater good.” Mandave Singh Langgar 2012 Volunteer Birmingham

“Great energy great sevadars plenty of new recruits. I came only knowing 2 or 3 people and I left with 10 new friends. That sums up the beauty of the event or me” Amritpal Singh UNITED SIKHS Law Intern shares his experience at Langgar 2012

“Langaar 2012 was splendid, spectacular and once in a life time moment. Thank you UNITED SIKHS, UK for uniting us to honor a legend and serve langaar and thank you UNITED SIKHS, USA for letting me experience a moment of peace, unity, and compassion.” Jasvir Kaur, UNITED SIKHS USA Volunteer

“Volunteers began to enter Seven Kings Gurdwara from 11pm the previous night from up and down the UK. As we began to prepare Langgar at 3am the atmosphere was amazing although the volunteers have never met each other before it felt like a big family. We made thousands of Roti Rolls and we could not wait to get to the Langgar service points to begin to serve the community ” Sun Kaur, Director, UNITED SIKHS.

“WJKK WJKF Team I am back from London. This was my unforgettable trip. July 21st was Really a BIG day for UNITED SIKHS and whole SIKH community. And I was a part of that. I am so happy. I am so impressed by UK volunteers. I saw how they made this event successful -unbelievable. The work done by SUN KAUR-can’t explain. She handled whole event responsibly she did not sleep many nights and drove through whole England to make this event successful, her phone was ringing all the time , she was running here and there to give instructions to volunteers, she was speaking to media -I have no words to explain. On July 21st at 7:30am when I entered Singh Sabha Gurdwara First I saw her in Gurdwara kitchen where volunteers were making Roti Rolls and next minute she was in Langgar Hall with volunteers who were packing Rolls and after two minutes i saw her standing with “Sangat TV” anchor giving them interview, after 5 minutes she was on phone talking with volunteers , and in next two minutes she was with some Bhenjis explaining to them how to make Roti Rolls. Sun Kaur Bhenji I Salute you. We made this event successful because of Mejindarpal Kaur bhenji and you. It’s all your and volunteers hard work. Congratulations to all of you.” Sukhwinder Singh, Director, UNITED SIKHS, Canada

And finally the comments off  the Turbaned Tornado Bhai Fauja Singh a prominent figure in sport, an inspiration for many and is applauded for being a great inspiration representing the Sikh identity around the world.” My eyes have been filled with tears of joy from the moment I stepped into Seven Kings Gurdwara this morning seeing the preparations by the volunteers, then the cheers I received when holding the Olympic torch. I really appreciate all the support I have been given and this is something I will never forget.”   Bhai Fauja Singh. 

Attached are links of highlights of Langgar 2012

Like, subscribe, comment

UNITED SIKHS Blog
UNITED SIKHS Flikr Langgar pics also on UNITED SIKHS Facebook
UNITED SIKHS TV
UNITED SIKHS Vlogs

We would like to thank the Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh, Paul Uppal MP, Harmander Singh & The Sikhs in City Team, Sangat Television and Sikh Channel

Thank you to all the Langgar 2012 Volunteers from UK, Canada, India, USA for your contribution and participation

Also a great big thanks to all the Gurdwaras who took supported and took part in this event: Gurdwara Guru Nanak Darbar (Kabul Di Sangat), Gurdwara Sahib Woolwich, Gurdwara Sikh Sangat Leyton, Gurdwara Sikh Sangat Harley Grove, Gurdwara Singh Sabha London East  (Barking and Seven Kings), Sri Guru Amardass Gurdwara, Southall, Guru Nanak Darbar Belvedere, Ramgarhia Sikh Gurdwara, Neville Road. Ramgarhia Sikh Association, Woolwich, Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha , GNNSJ Martindale Road, Hounslow, Miri Piri Gurdwara, Southall, Mata Sahib Kaur Sikh Academy Gurdwara, Singh Sabha Gurdwara, Reading, Guru Nanak Satsang Sabha Karamsar

Bring on Langgar 2016 in Rio!

Langgar 2012 Team
UNITED SIKHS
Recognise The Human Race as One

Inter-faith Vigil at NYC

More than 1000 people from different faiths and communities gathered at the Union Square Park, New York to participate at the Interfaith Vigil organized by the Sikh Community of New York City. The vigil was organized to commemorate the killings that took place in Oak Creek, Wisconsin on 5th August, 2012.

In light of the tragic shootings that took place at the Sikh Gurdwara (temple) in Milwaukee an Interfaith candle light vigil and Ardaas (prayer) was organised and some prominent faith leaders, government reps participated and shared their condolences with the community. Different Sikh oranizations and associations such as UNITED SIKHS, Manhattan Sikh Association and Sikh Coalition etc. participated and helped everyone understand the basics of sikhism  by distributing the pamphlets of “Who are the Sikhs”

Prayers and condolences for victims of Wisconsin Sikh Temple attack

People from diiferent faiths and parts of the world make thier way through prayers and condolences for the victims of Wisconsin Sikh Temple attack

Gur Fateh!

I condemn this barbaric act of violence and atrocities against Gur Sikhs who were carrying out the blessed good deed of Sewa at the Gurdwara in various forms. I wholeheartedly wish to express my sincere condolences to the families, relations and friends and the Sikh community across the globe for this despicable act. Wahe Guru bless the soul of the martyrs and give strength to the families, relatives and friends to accept this unfortunate incident and come to terms with it.

 

My gratitude goes to the honorable president Mr. Barak Obama of the United States of America for the wonderful and humane action on ordering the flags to be flown at half mast and expressing his concerns and feeling for the Sikh community of USA.

 

May I also congratulate the officer who very bravely confronted and shot the suspect and unfortunately sustained severe injuries himself. I pray to Wahe Guru for the officer’s speedy recovery. I am ex- Metropolitan Police Service personnel from London and I am fully aware of the dangers the officers have to face in their line of duty in protecting the law abiding citizens. My sympathies also go to the families of the brave officer. (I am not sure if my message can be conveyed to the officer and his family please).

 

May WaheGuru bless United Sikhs of USA with success and long life in carrying out the good deed for the communities not in the USA but across the globe. 

 

Good luck and keep up the wonderful work.  

 

Kind Regards.

 

Harjinder Singh (Retired Strategic Diversity Consultant/Advisor Metropolitan Police Service)

 

As The Peace Islands Institute, we were deeply saddened to learn of the shooting that tragically took so many lives in Wisconsin. This is not only an act of extreme violence; it is also an act of evil.  Our hearts are with the victims, their families, and the entire Oak Creek Sikh community. Our prayers and condolences go out to those killed and injured, and we share the grief of everyone affected by this senseless event.

Sincerely,
Peace Islands Institue

On behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury and on my own behalf, I want to assure our Sikh friends and colleagues of our prayers following the devastating attack on the Sikh Gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.  At such a time, it becomes all the more important that religious groups work together to overcome all cultural forms that promote racial and ethnic hatred. We mourn the death of the Sikh victims, including the temple president Satwant Singh Kaleka, and I invite Christian churches and Sikh Gurdwaras to work together with inter religious groups to hold vigils and pray for the families involved.

Over the last decade, the religious communities in this country have worked very hard to develop meaningful and mutually supportive relationships. I hope that the Sikh community will feel that they are held in our prayers and that we can work together to prevent anything similar from happening again.

With my warm good wishes,

Toby

____________________

The Revd Dr Toby Howarth

Secretary for Inter Religious Affairs to the Archbishop of Canterbury and National Inter Religious Affairs Adviser for the Church of England

 

As family members of those lost in the attacks of 9/11/2001, we mourn with those who lost family members and dear friends last Sunday in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Once again, we are compelled to reach out to those who have suffered directly such horrific violence.  We extend our friendship, our love and our solidarity with the entire Sikh community as we move forward from this day. We are with you in spirit, and should we be of assistance in any additional way, we are a phone call away.

With respect,

Colleen Kelly September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows

My heart goes out to my Sikh brothers and sisters, and I wish you strength and support in your grieving and healing processes. Please let me know if there is a piece I can help with; the Sikh community has always been so generous and compassionate, God bless them.

– Rabbi Simkha Y. Weintraub, LCSW, Rabbinic Director,NCJH & NYJHC,JBFCS

In my attempt to find global Sikh organisations to contact, you were the first I came across. I would just like to express my upmost sadness and dismay at the shooting which took place in  a temple in Wisconsin and resulted in the deaths of 6 innocent Sikh worshippers. Speaking for us Muslims, we have suffered much discrimination and abuse since the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the resultant war on terror and I have much empathy for the Sikh brothers and sisters to whom this abuse has often been deflected as a result of the hatred and ignorance of certain groups and individuals.

At these times, I believe that it is absolutely essential that members of both religious faiths unite and condemn this act of barbarism as a single body for only through a united front do we have a chance of facing down those who wish to persecute us. Gone are the days before partition when Muslims and Sikhs existed in almost equal numbers and in harmony in cities such as Lahore and Amristar and yet it is more important than ever at times like that that unity and friendship be replicated.

 – From a concerned British Muslim.

We strongly condemn the dastardly, cowardice, mad act against the sikh community in oak creek,

We offer our ardass for the peace of soul of those innocent devotees killed in mad  and meaningless shootout. Also waheguru give courage to the families to face the loss. It is extremely sad,

The sikh community there needs to be alert and appropriately prepared to protect themselves and attacks on gurudwaras, where the message of universal brotherhood and love is imparted.

Hukum te Bhana wahegurujee da,

– Sincere regards, Jatinderpal Singh Uppal Nagpur India

Mark Paul Arabo,  President & CEO, Neighborhood Market Association –  “On behalf of our 2,000 members and 21,000 employees in CA, AZ, and NV; we offer our deepest and most sincere condolences.  We are deeply saddened by the despicable acts of the shooting today at the Wisconsin Sikh temple.  We hope the law enforcement community catch these criminals who have caused this pain and justice is served.  We also hope and pray the Sikh community at large will start the healing process and this tragedy will bring everyone closer as one unit. You are all in my prayers and if there is anything we could do to support the Sikh community, please let me know.  I stand in solidarity with all of you”

Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, Executive Vice President,New York Board of Rabbis – “When will these tragic senseless shootings stop? Our prayers are with victims and families. We will stand with all of you in a demonstration of spiritual solidarity.”

Sikhs Killed in USA Terror Attack on Sikh Gurdwara (place of worship)

Sikhs Killed in USA Terror Attack on Sikh Gurdwara (place of worship)

Dr Harcharan Gill, who was at the scene said, “The police response was quick but the paramedic team waited for almost two hours to go inside the Gurdwara building,  sensing the possibility of of another shooter, which was not the case. The community is in deep shock, we never thought that this could have happened with us.” Continue reading ‘Sikhs Killed in USA Terror Attack on Sikh Gurdwara (place of worship)’ »

Peace, unity, compassion Jasvir Kaur tells us about her experience at Langgar 2012

Peace, unity, compassion seems far out of reach these days with all the complexities of life. Being around hopeful, active, optimistic people serving a greater good is the experience of sangat, it’s not out of reach at all. This is the experience I felt when I participated in Langaar 2012.

UNITED SIKHS asked me to represent the USA in one of its creative projects for the London 2012 Olympics Torch Relay. I was honoured and a bit selfish when I accepted the offer. Honored because they thought I was worthy of representing the UNITED SIKHS and selfish because I heard that Fauja Singh was going to be carrying the torch and I would meet him. It’s been a personal dream of mine to meet him. I first heard of Fauja Singh and his quest to run for charity about ten years back, when he was at the tender age of 92. After learning more about him, I was inspired to run a marathon as well. Yeap, did it once and that was enough for me. It’s a mental challenge more than a physical one, I understood why discipline was important. Discipline in diet, in exercising, simply in life!

July 20, 2012, in London, I was picked up by Sun Kaur, a beautiful, dedicated, determined soul. She’d been making deliveries since 6:30am to Gurdwaras participating in Langaar 2012. We became delivery girls for the day, delivering stickers, fliers, t-shirts, making sure they understand how to make ‘roti rolls’ and where and when to be at their stations to serve Langaar along the Relay route. I was amazed to hear how many Gurdwaras were taking part in the event. It’s hard enough for 2 Gurdwaras to agree to participate in an event, let alone FIFTEEN. By 8:30pm after all the deliveries were made, we arrived at the Gurdwara in Ilford.

We were greeted by so many ‘valahti’ volunteers. They drove hours to participate in this seva. In all the excitement of meeting one another from near and far, London, Birmingham, Canada and of course I’ve got to represent, US, we didn’t sleep all night. At the crack of dawn, 4am, we gathered to start the process of roti rolling, sabji stuffing, burrito-like wrapping, and sticker sticking. What a beautiful moment it was to do seva, the sangat singing ‘Asa di Vaar’ and “satnam waheguru…” I didn’t want that moment to end. By the time it was 9am, we had made 600 “Roti rolls”, half-way done but we only had a few more hours.

Wait! Do you hear that? ‘Baba ji (being respectful to his age) ahgahey”. All dressed in white, it’s Fauja Singh! The cameras come flying out and the flashes go crazy. The bibis elbow any one in their way, the bhajis slide their hands on their pughs before posing next to the superstar. Everyone is fighting for time with this inspiration, who walks in with his hands folded. He’s no academic or prodigy, in fact he can’t read or write, yet he has inspired so many people by living simply. The seva slows down for a bit as we take turns wanting to spend time with Fauja Singh. We want him to know we gathered, not for the Olympics, but because we are proud he’s chosen to run part of the Relay holding the Olympic torch. He’s the perfect one to represent a GurSikh. He’s Sabat Soorat, alert, talkative, optimistic, inspiring AND he’s 101 years old. Unbelievable he is!

A quick visit by Fauja Singh and it’s back to the seva with full force. More and more sangat joined, more assembly lines were formed and we did it. If only every sangat gathering could be this united, this motivated, imagine what we could accomplish. It’s 11am and we gather to get into our yellow “Langaar 2012” volunteer t-shirts, pack up the cars and head out to Relay Route. Along the Relay route our volunteers stood distinguished by the yellow t-shirts and dastaars. In all there were over 10,000 roti rolls made, served and devoured by spectators of the Olympic Relay route.

Then there was the moment, at 1:50pm, the Sevadars, spectators, and sports fans line up along the street waiting for the moment Fauja Singh will carry the Olympic torch. Of course the press is there and Singhs spot them to make sure they are noticed, videotaped and perhaps interviewed. But no one steals the show like Fauja Singh. There he is surrounded by security in grey uniforms, in the middle a beam of white light, Fauja Singh runs with the torch.

Langaar 2012 was splendid, spectacular and once in a life time moment. Thank you UNITED SIKHS, UK for uniting us to honor a legend and serve langaar and thank you UNITED SIKHS, USA for letting me experience a moment of peace, unity, and compassion.

Jasvir Kaur
UNITED SIKHS – USA volunteer

UNITED SIKHS participates at the INTERFAITH VIGIL at the UN Church

New York,USA : UNITED SIKHS participated at the Interfaith Vigil for the United Nations Negotiations for an Arms Trade Treaty on 26th July at the Church Center for the United Nations. The evening brought together leaders, scholars and representatives of different religions and faiths across the world to pray and advocate for a strong and binding Arms Trade Treaty.

The United States and 192 other countries are nearing the end of negotiations at the United Nations on a global treaty aimed at
controlling the trade in conventional weapons. The estimated $60 billion international arms trade is unregulated, though countries including the U.S. have their own rules on exports.

Representatives of different traditions collaborated and read prayers to support the desire for real transformation from violent conflict to restoring of communities and reconciling of relationships. Jasminder Kaur, a UNITED SIKHS volunteer, read an excerpt from the Sikh’s Holy Scripture Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji along with its English translation to mark the representation of Sikh faith towards this cause.

The event concluded with  everyone lighting a candle in the hope for a positive outcome at ATT negotiations .

Link to the prayer video :- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_22-RoZG5c&feature=channel&list=UL

English translation : – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=APeqZtmR3xU&feature=channel&list=UL