Posts tagged ‘sikhs’

CHARDI KALA: DISPATCHES FROM WISCONSIN – “Glowing Legacy”

“A GLOWING LEGACY”

“Babaji, wake up and open your eyes. Look, Dr. Sidhu has come over to visit you all the way from California. The entire sangat is waiting anxiously to hear a Katha from you.”

Raghuvinder Singh, Babaji Punjab Singh’s son, uttered these words as he held his hand. Babaji Punjab Singh, is a Katha-wachak and was present at the Wisconsin Gurdwara in that capacity when he was shot in the head. He remains in critical condition. 

My first interaction with both the sons, Raghuvinder Singh and Jaspreet Singh, had been over a phone call from California. I had helped interpret during a medical team meeting. Now, as I held Babaji’ hand, I could feel the love from everyone surrounding him.

As he massaged his father’s legs, Raghuvinder started telling me about the glowing legacy Babaji had created with his work. “Babaji always knew that spreading Waheguru’s message through Katha, was his calling. He took an early retirement from the Indian army so he could devote all to this work…. and he never looked back. He was a very patient and caring father and grandfather. My daughter misses him dearly and wants to be here with him.”

With Shabad playing in the background, I learned about the love and wisdom exuding from Babaji. He not only preached about living a good life, but he also made sure to incorporate healthy habits in his life as well. Babaji made his own meals, which mostly comprised of steamed vegetables and whole grain meals. He would get up early in the morning and walk eight miles. Raghuvinder smiles softly as he says, “ we were younger but we both had difficulty keeping pace with him. His face always exuded a glow.”

Upon being notified of the shooting, the sons immediately travelled to the United States to be by their fathers sideand to give him strength. Their mother, Mataji Kulwant Kaur, was unable to travel immediately because of her health. The UNITED SIKHS team in India met with her and gave her a cheque of Rs 50,000. Additionally, UNITED SIKHS representatives called upon the US ambassador in India to expedite the processing of her visa application. She arrived the day of my visit.

Mataji reminded me of my grandmother, as she sat on the ground with me talking about Babaji. “He called me the night before, I asked him to come back because my health was failing. He reminded me of his life’s purpose and promised he would be back when he was done with his work here. He told me to stay strong and take care of the family, especially making sure my pregnant daughter-in-law gets healthy food on time and is well taken care of. It was almost as if he was giving me instructions.”
As I hugged Mataji, I looked up at the sons who were looking tenderly at their mother. I felt peace in my heart, feeling the love, caring, and strength within the family. I ask all of you to keep this and all the families in your thoughts and prayers. May Waheguru bless everyone with peace and love.

– Dr. Seema Kaur, Regional Director, UNITED SIKHS

CHARDI KALA: UNITED SIKHS TEAM DISPATCHES FROM WISCONSIN

 “INCREDIBLE RESILIENCE”

As I sat at the Milwaukee Airport on August 19th, it felt like I was leaving my home. The Sikh community that I had met only a few days back had welcomed me into their hearts and homes, turning this complete stranger into a family member. It has taken me three days to be able to finally pen down my experiences. Not because I was unwilling to write; it was because the immensity of the emotions and personal loss made the act of writing so trivial.

What I will describe in these series of blogs will be stories of my personal journey with the members of the families that lost their loved ones and the incredible support from the Wisconsin Sikh community surrounding them. I hope that as you read these passages, you will begin to understand the deep personal pain felt by everyone following the senseless killing in Wisconsin. I also hope that these blogs will give you an insight into the tremendous resiliency, forgiveness and humility present within the Sikh community.

“Mother
I pray that you may have true peace and that God’s graces never cease; I pray your heart’s contentment too, may fill the years ahead of you.”

This heart wrenching message, from the sons to their mother, brought tears to my eyes as I read it. The sons, 20-year old Kamaljit Singh Saini and 18-year old Harpreet Singh Saini have placed this message on a plaque, placed on a memorial, at the site where their mother was killed. Paramjit Kaur Saini was the only woman killed in the senseless shooting on August 5th, at the Sikh Gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

Everyone describes Paramjit Kaur as a sweet, devout woman who came to the Gurdwara everyday to pray and help in the preparation of the Langar. She was sitting and praying in the Gurdwara the fatal day of the shooting. The site where she was shot now has a memorial with a large vase of flowers that get replaced diligently by the sons. “We both miss our mom a lot, it is strange not having her home when I come back from work” said Kamaljit Singh who works in addition to being a student at the local University. Even at this young of an age, I could see that he was mature beyond his years. As we talked, I learned how he had been supporting the family along with his mother and now has made Harpreet’s recovery his priority. Harpreet will be joining his older brother at the University in a few weeks and the two plan to live together.

As a mother of three, my heart cried as I began to understand the extent of all that has been lost. Sitting at the place where a mother was snatched from her sons, I prayed to Waheguru, to continue to bless these incredible boys with resilience and courage, as they embark on this new journey together.

-Dr. Seema Kaur, Regional Director, UNITED SIKHS

UNITED SIKHS Co-Sponsors the 9-11 WTC Memorial Floating Lanterns Ceremony

The 9/11 World Trade Center Memorial Floating Lanterns Ceremony, in its tenth year, brings a day filled with deep emotion and reflection to an aesthetically serene and peaceful close. As light fades to dusk, and the sun’s warmth gives way to the Hudson River’s cool breeze, the rhythmic beating of the Japanese Taiko drum signals the beginning of this most poignant and embracing interfaith ceremony led by Reverend Alfonso Wyatt.
Location: Sunday, September 11 at 6:00 PM, Pier 40 (West Houston Street & West Street by the Hudson River)

EEOC provides update on number of cases filed for employment discrimination since 9/11

According to the latest EEOC report forwarded to UNITED SIKHS, between 9/11/2001 and 3/11/2010, 1,024 charges were filed under Title VII alleging post-9/11 backlash employment discrimination. These numbers have more than doubled since 9/11. 5 charges remain open as of 3/11/2010.

As of 3/11/2010, 153 individuals aggrieved by post-9/11 backlash discrimination in employment have received over $4,226,000 in monetary benefits through the administrative efforts of the EEOC.

UNITED SIKHS has been working endlessly with EEOC to solve cases of employment discrimination against Sikhs and has been involved in extensive training efforts to spread awareness amongst the EEOC officials regarding the importance of the five kakaars.

If you have faced any problems or harassment at work due to your kakaars, please contact us at law-usa@unitedsikhs.org. We will make sure your voice is heard. Also, if you wish, we will work with you to conduct trainings for your organization to spread awareness and prevent unpleasant happenings for you and your employer.

A Glimpse into Haiti’s Agony from the eyes of a Volunteer Team

 2nd Feb 2010, Port-Au-Prince, Haiti: Effectively chronicling the human tragedies that have taken place in Haiti since the earthquake struck is a nearly impossible task.  How is one orphan’s story any more or less distressing or significant than the thousands of others?  And yet it is still necessary to do what we can to highlight specific heart-rending and also heart-warming events in an effort to provide greater context for those of us who have not witnessed the devastation firsthand.  It is crucial that we do not fall into the trap of looking at Haiti’s anguish through the prism of statistics and data.  The suffering is real and it touches millions.  It is no less real than the suffering we see elsewhere and it does not demand any less of us as Sikhs.
Continue reading ‘A Glimpse into Haiti’s Agony from the eyes of a Volunteer Team’ »

Sikhs of Peshwar Break their Silence. UNITED SIKHS steps up Advocacy

sikhsinpeshwargurd16th of July 2009, Pesahwar,  Pakistan:   In the third visit to meet the Sikhs in Peshawar the Sikhs broke out their silence of their situation and gave a detailed saga of the kidnapping of  Kalyan Singh.

Panja Saheb Gurdwara, a haven for fleeing -Sikhs, Hindus and Christains

Medicines delivered at Panja Saheb Gurdwara Saheb

Medicines delivered at Panja Saheb Gurdwara Saheb

4th July 2009, Islamabad, Pakistan:  Stationed currently at Hassan Abdal, Panja Saheb, in Pakistan, UNITED SIKHS volunteers surveyed the Internally displaced people (IDPs) at the Hassan Abdal-Panja Saheb camp of their needs. The immediate need was to provide medicines for chronic patients suffering from diabetes, respiratory issues and heart related problems. Continue reading ‘Panja Saheb Gurdwara, a haven for fleeing -Sikhs, Hindus and Christains’ »

Displaced Sikhs from Orakzai Agency and now in Peshawar-2

Residents of Peshawar with Displaced members at the Bhai Joga Singh Gurdwara

Residents of Peshawar with Displaced members at the Bhai Joga Singh Gurdwara

June  27, 2009, Islamabad, Pakistan: These are some of the major issues that the displaced Sikhs from the Orakzai Agency are facing

1) The Sikhs displaced from the Orakzai Agency are not referred to  as IDPs as the Military hasn’t started the operations in Orakzai Agency as said to us by Herdiyal Singh from Continue reading ‘Displaced Sikhs from Orakzai Agency and now in Peshawar-2’ »

United Sikhs appeals for urgent relief aid for displaced Pakistanis

United Sikhs appeals for urgent relief aid for displaced Pakistanis   PDF Print E-mail

NEW YORK, June 27 (APP): A US‑based international organization, United Sikh, has issued an urgent appeal for donations to provide humanitarian relief to Pakistani internally displaced persons from Swat and other adjacent valleys. Continue reading ‘United Sikhs appeals for urgent relief aid for displaced Pakistanis’ »