Posts tagged ‘UNITED SIKHS’

USA: Have You Signed the Petition to Protect Sikh Drivers’ Civil Rights?

UNITED SIKHS helped the sangat of Gurdwaras in California and New York sign the UNITED SIKHS hair sampling petition to ensure the protection of commercial drivers of the Sikh faith. Similar events were hosted at Gurudwaras in Virginia, in the Washington, D.C. area, and across the United States.

Hair Sampling Collage

On September 28, you signed the petition to write to your Senators about the detrimental effects bill S.806: Drug Free Commercial Driver Act will have on the Sikh community if passed without a religious accommodation amendment. In the past four weeks, we have received 1,200 signatures, but our work is far from over. The bill is still in the Senate and continues to pose a threat to Sikh commercial drivers across the country. If you haven’t done so already, we ask you to sign the petition to your Senators asking them support the civil rights of the Sikh community, and share it with your friends and family.

Civil Rights Violation

Bill S.806 has the potential to violate the civil rights – the rights of citizens to equality and freedom – of Sikh commercial drivers. It fails to implement the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of the right of every citizen to practice his or her faith without fear of persecution or discrimination.

If this bill is enacted, employers will be able to force a Sikh operator to provide a hair sample without offering an alternate form of testing such as urinalysis, thereby preventing Sikhs from seeking employment as operators due to their inability to cut their hair for any purpose.

Once again, Sikhs would have to choose between employment, and their faith.

The bill will affect operators of all commercial vehicles. By signing the petition, you are contacting your Senators directly, and making your voice heard. Only one Senator must object to the bill and propose the amendment on the Senate floor. We are ensuring Senators across the country are aware of the concerns of the Sikh community.

As a civil rights organization, UNITED SIKHS is dedicated to ensuring the rights of all citizens, regardless of race, religion, or gender.

It is vital that we as a community rally around our senators – these officials should be informed of the detrimental effect of this bill on the Sikh community, and that overall, it stands in stark contrast to the free exercise clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. We thank all of our supporters who have already signed the petition, taking a stand for religious freedom in the United States. Please continue to share it with your friends and family, and encourage others to help us make a positive change.

Keep up to date on this issue and other UNTIED SIKHS initiatives by following our social media accounts:Facebook | Twitter |

UNITED SIKHS Launches Food Bank on East Coast, USA

UNITED SIKHS is humbled to announce the initiation of the UNITED SIKHS food bank in New York City, which covers all five boroughs – Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, Staten Island, and Manhattan, as well as the counties of Nassau and Suffolk in Long Island. To donate food cans for the bank, write to foodbank@unitedsikhs.org or to sign up as a volunteer, click here.

One of the pillars of the Sikh faith is the concept of Vhand Chakna, or sharing one’s possessions and blessings with others. Walking on the path of service as laid out in Sikhism, we are devoted to battling extreme hunger all over the world:

In Malaysia, UNITED SIKHS launched the Malaysia Foodbank Organization, raising funds with Good Will Walks in 2014 and 2015. Since its inception, the Malaysia Foodbank organization has provided over 150 tonnes of food to those who need it most, including the Orang Asli community, from which seven children went missing in August.

UNITED SIKHS extended its hunger relief efforts in 2010 by launching “Feed the Hungry” to feed the hungry in Canada:

UNITED SIKHS distributing food to the needy in Toronto, Canada in 2014. Click here to view more pictures.

The Guru Nanak Food Bank inaugurated in 2011 in Kenya continues to serve food to the needy.

Her Excellency, Mrs. Pauline Kalonzo signing the pledge for the Sri Guru Nanak Food Bank, a project of UNITED SIKHS.

 

Historically, Guru Angad Dev Ji’s wife, Mata Khiviji, planned and organized langar when people gathered for spiritual darbar during the times of Guru Nanak and continued the tradition through Guru Arjan Dev Ji. Mata Khivi and community members worked as a team to provide fresh, hot, and healthy food for everyone who gathered. This is how the tradition of langar began.

Langar has always been provided to whoever is in need of a meal, regardless of race, religion, caste, or gender. The Sikh faith teaches us to treat all human beings as equal when carrying out acts of selfless service, or seva. It is a blessing to be able to extend this concept internationally, and provide food to thousands of individuals who would otherwise go hungry. It is thanks to your support that we are able to carry out our mission of providing aid and assistance to the needy. Donate today to help support these programs.

Also needed are volunteers in three areas:

  • Logistics: Volunteers are needed for tracking where food goes, when food is needed in an area, how much is needed, where food donations can come from, etc.
  • Physical Distribution: Volunteers are needed to pick up and transfer food.
  • Operations: Volunteers in this group will execute the delivery remotely and report the status back to the project manager.

If you are interested in volunteering for this initiative, please contact foodbank@unitedsikhs.org, and fill out the join form.

We are excited to take this step in our effort to reduce hunger around the world with the addition of a food bank in New York, where 1.7 million individuals live in poverty. The foodbank will be located at the following address:

UNITED SIKHS Food bank
55 Broadway, Suite – D
Hicksville, NY 11801

Keep up to date on this issue and other UNTIED SIKHS initiatives by following our social media accounts:Facebook | Twitter

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

Allow Sikh Officers the Right to Maintain their Turbans and Beards- Sign the petition!

29th Sep 2012  | 15th Assu (Samvat 544 Nanakshahi)

Allow Sikh Officers the Right to Maintain their Turbans and Beards- Sign the petition!

Highlights

  • UNITED SIKHS co-sponsors the petition with Comptroller Liu for NYPD to Reform Religious Garb Policy supported by Sikh Gurdwaras of NYC, Sikh Organizations and activists.
  • The petition can be found at http://comptroller.nyc.gov/sikh/

Continue reading ‘Allow Sikh Officers the Right to Maintain their Turbans and Beards- Sign the petition!’ »

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

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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

Brutal beating of a 72 year old Sikh man in NJ, followed by arrest for keeping Kirpan, an article of Sikh faith

UNITED SIKHS
Aug 23rd, 2012
8th Bhadon (Samvat 543 Nanakshahi)
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Press Release
Brutal beating of a 72 year old Sikh man in NJ, followed by arrest for keeping Kirpan, an article of Sikh faithPaterson, New Jersey: 72 year old Avtar Singh, a gas station owner and one of the founding members of Glen Rock Gurdwara in New Jersey, was brutally beaten by his neighbor, Edward Koscovski, who owns a car business in Paterson (New Jersey) and shares a common driveway with Avtar Singh.

           
Bhai Avtar Singh, 72 year old man, founding member of the Glenrock Gurdwara in New Jersey Site where the incident took place in Paterson, New Jersey

Continue reading ‘Brutal beating of a 72 year old Sikh man in NJ, followed by arrest for keeping Kirpan, an article of Sikh faith’ »

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

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

Sept 16th – Palo Alto : SUPPORT FAMILIES, SAVE LIVES with UMEED, Join SEVA IN MOTION – UNITED SIKHS Walk-Run-Bike Event

MARK THE DATE : SEPTEMBER 16th – PALO ALTO downtown for SEVA IN MOTION – UNITED SIKHS Walk-Run-Bike Event
Join us to SUPPORT FAMILIES & SAVE LIVES with UMEED-UNITED SIKHS National Family Resource Center. Your support will help expand services to our community including Counseling for Domestic Violence and Substance Abuse, Senior Care Support Services, Youth Leadership Training Program, Bullying Prevention Interventions and After School Academic Programs. We greatly appreciate your time and support of our efforts!
– UMEED Team
To support and donate see information in link below….

SEVA IN MOTION – UNITED SIKHS WALK-RUN-BIKE EVENT -https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1TMXVc5t0p4e5ZmSt4kADVz-0aPzbGQua1p1nPCgTMFg

After School Academic Program (ASAP): Enrollment is now open for 2011- 2012

 Prepare your child for a bright future, a program offered through  Community Empowerment and Education Directorate  (CEED) of UNITED SIKHS.
Enrollment is Now Open for 2011 – 2012

We are providing homework help for students of 3rd grade through 8th Grade. Our teachers are experienced and  subject matter experts. Register now for 2011-2012 session. The program is for students from 3rd Grade – 8th Grade. Get to next level or help in weak areas of- Mathematics,  English & Science.
Continue reading ‘After School Academic Program (ASAP): Enrollment is now open for 2011- 2012’ »