Events-USA – UNITED SIKHS Blog http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog Recognize The Human Race As One Fri, 01 Sep 2017 23:45:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Guru Nanak Sahib Ji’s Teachings Illuminated at White House for Sixth Year http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/2015/12/guru-nanak-sahib-jis-teachings-illuminated-at-white-house-for-sixth-year/ Tue, 22 Dec 2015 21:06:41 +0000 http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/?p=2349

Washington, DC–On December 14, the White House welcomed Sikh Americans for the sixth annual celebration of Guru Nanak Sahib Ji’s gurpurab (day of birth) through shabad (religious hymns), poetry, and a roundtable meeting alongside other Sikh organizations and White House officials to discuss Sikh issues. In addition to White House officials, speakers included Professor Amritjit Singh of Ohio University; Professor Nikky-Gurinder Kaur Singh of Colby College; Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President; and Vanity Gupta, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General.

During the round-table meeting, Sikh issues were brought to the forefront. We used this opportunity to discuss our work with the Department of Homeland (DHS) security in New Jersey, Georgia, and New York to make sure that Gurdwaras (Sikh places of worship) become safer through grants from the DHS to put in cameras, and how it is critical that these grants be extended to all major states of the USA. Also discussed was the video of a sleeping Sikh man that was put online, labeling him as ‘Bin Laden,’ as well as the recent upsurge in general anti-Sikh hostility following the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, and the lack of public statements condemning anti-Sikh hate crimes. Finally, we discussed the importance of knowing that our children will have the freedom to live their lives as both Sikhs and Americans, without having to compromise their turbans to go to school, their kirpans to leave their homes, or their beliefs, to live out their dreams.

“Recently, there have been some abhorrent incidents of hate against Sikhs. Discussions and events like these represent the important role the Sikh community plays in this nation’s fabric, as well as solidarity. Our work to ensure the rights and freedoms of all Americans regardless of race or religions is far from over, and it is crucial that meetings like this one are held to raise awareness of this issue,” said UNITED SIKHS staff attorney Jaspreet Kaur.

“As we celebrate Guru Nanak Sahib Ji’s gurpurab, it is important to make an effort to revitalize the role his teachings play in our lives. At the White House this week, we did this by proliferating his timeless teachings to an audience of government officials, many of whom were new to the teachings of Sikhism. One such message is that of sacha sauda (the true bargain): The true bargain of life is sharing one’s earnings with the needy and helping in whatever way we can. Humanitarian aid is one of the ways we strive to recognize the human race as one–another lesson we learned from Guru Ji”, said UNITED SIKHS operations manager Surmeet Kaur.

As articulated by Professor Amritjit Singh, it is crucial that our organization continue to carry out humanitarian relief efforts around the world so that Sikhs become visible through seva, or selfless service. The idea of celebrating gurpurabs in the White House is something many of us could not have imagined even ten years ago. Please support our advocacy and civil rights efforts to help us continue working towards an even more inclusive America for us and for generations to come.

Keep up to date on other UNITED SIKHS events by following our social media accounts:Facebook | Twitter |

 

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UNITED SIKHS Remembers and Prays for the Lives Lost on 9/11/01 http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/2013/09/united-sikhs-remembers-and-prays-for-the-lives-lost-on-91101/ Wed, 11 Sep 2013 18:55:51 +0000 http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/?p=2026

The day has come again… the day we never saw coming…the day that changed the nation forever… the day that impacted the lives of everyone who lives in America.

Americans will never forget the tragic event that took place on September 11, 2001. A tragedy that changed the New York Skyline, took innocent lives, and brought America even closer together.

A day of great loss and sorrow has birth a nation’s love, compassion, solidarity and bravery among brothers and sisters of all races.

UNITED SIKHS remembers those innocent lives lost on this unforgettable day. We continue to pray and hold vigils for the departed and their families. UNITED SIKHS is proactively working with the United States Department of Justice to make sure events like this never happen again.

Life of the Post 9/11 Victims

While our country remembers the lives of those lost on 9/11, let us not forget those who have become a target because of the tragedy that occurred on the unforgettable day.

Being misidentified in America since 9/11 has been harmful and disheartening to those Sikhs that call America their home. Many incidents have occurred in the past twelve years that leave many Sikhs wondering when this will end. Organizations like UNITED SIKHS will continue its fight to empower and educate all about the principles and beliefs of Sikhism.

The lack of education of who Sikhs are have caused much confusion worldwide. Many see the turban as a sign of terrorism but this is not true. Since September 11, the world has been gripped by fear such that many minority communities, including the Sikh community, have suffered a backlash through 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/biased/hate crimes and from those being denied their rights 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 suffer increased harassment at airports because they wear the Turban.

Below you can find a list of a few of the incidents that have a occurred:

Sept. 15, 2001 — Mesa, Ariz.: Four days after the infamous attacks of 9/11, Balbir Singh Sodhi, a 49-year-old Sikh, is shot and killed outside the gas station he owned by Frank Silva Roque. When police approached to arrest him, Roque says, “I’m a patriot and an American. I’m American. I’m a damn American.”

Nov. 18, 2001 — Palermo, N.Y.: Three teens burn down Gobind Sadan, a gurdwara (Sikh temple) in New York, because they thought it was named for Osama bin Laden.

Dec. 12, 2001 — Los Angeles, Calif.: Surinder Singh Sidhi, a liquor store owner in Los Angeles who took to wearing an American flag turban after 9/11 out of fear of being attacked, is beaten in his store by two men who accused him of being Osama bin Laden.

Aug. 6, 2002 — Daly City, Calif.: Sukhpal Singh, brother of Balbir Singh Sodhi, who was the first Sikh murdered following 9/11, is shot while driving his cab.

May 20, 2003 — Phoenix, Ariz.: Fifty-two-year-old Sikh immigrant and truck driver Avtar Singh is shot in his 18-wheeler while waiting for his son to pick him up. As he is being shot, he hears someone say: “Go back to where you belong.”

Aug. 5, 2003 — Queens, N.Y.: Members of a Sikh family are beaten outside of their home by drunk individuals yelling, “Go back to your country, Bin Laden.”

Sept. 25, 2003 — Tempe, Ariz.: Sukhvir Singh, a 33-year-old convenience store owner, is stabbed to death by Bruce Phillip Reed. It is not labeled as a hate crime. Representatives of the Phoenix Sikh community issue a statement that says, in part, “Together we can help others to evolve past hate and fear by continuing to organize to reach out to others with increased understanding, respect, and support. May our collective prayer be that God preserve and protect the honor of all people, our nation, and our world.”

March 13, 2004 — Fresno, Calif.: Gurdwara Sahib, a local Sikh temple, is vandalized with graffiti messages: “Rags Go Home” and “It’s Not Your Country.

July 12, 2004 — New York, N.Y.: Rajinder Singh Khalsa and Gurcharan Singh, cousins on their way to dinner at a restaurant, are beaten by two drunk white twenty something men. The attackers describe Gurcharan’s turban as a “curtain.” When Rajinder tries to intervene, saying that Sikhs are peaceful, he is beaten unconscious and suffers a fractured eye socket, among other injuries.

May 24, 2007 — Queens, N.Y.: A 15-year-old student has his hair forcibly cut by an older student at his high school. The scissor-wielding 17-year-old showed the Sikh a ring inscribed with Arabic, saying, “This ring is Allah. If you don’t let me cut your hair, I will punch you with this ring.” Afterward, he cuts the younger boy’s hair. A main pillar of the Sikh faith compels followers to keep their hair uncut.

May 30, 2007 — Joliet, Ill.: A decorated U.S. Navy veteran of the Gulf War, Kuldip Singh Nag is approached by a police officer outside of his home for an expired vehicle registration tag. The officer reportedly assaults Nag with pepper spray while hurling expletive-laced anti-immigrant statements. ]

Jan. 14, 2008 — New Hyde Park, N.Y.: A 63-year-old Sikh, Baljeet Singh, has his jaw and nose broken when attacked outside his temple by a man who lived next-door. David Wood, the attacker, had apparently disturbed members of the Gurdwara in the past.

Feb. 28, 2008 — Bryan, Texas: A Sikh man is assaulted in a Wal-Mart parking lot. Though the assailant called him a terrorist, punched him in the face and head and knocked his turban off, the Sikh man does not suffer major injuries.

June 5, 2008 — Queens, N.Y.: A ninth grade Sikh is attacked by another student, who tried to remove his patka, or under-turban, and had a history of bullying the boy.

June 5, 2008 — Albuquerque, N.M.: A vehicle belonging to a Sikh family is defaced with the message “F*** Allah!” and a picture of male genitalia.

Aug. 4, 2008 — Phoenix, Ariz.: Inderjit Singh Jassal is shot and killed while working at a 7-Eleven. No clear motive is found.

Oct. 29, 2008 — Carteret, N.J.: A Sikh man, Ajit Singh Chima, goes for a walk in his neighborhood. He is attacked by a man who casually leaves the scene afterward. Nothing is stolen.

Jan. 30, 2009 — Queens, N.Y.: Three men attack Jasmir Singh outside of a grocery store. Racial slurs are heard. A broken glass bottle is used. Singh loses vision in his left eye.

Nov. 29, 2010 — Sacramento, Calif.: Harbhajan Singh, a cab driver, is a attacked by passengers, who call him Osama bin Laden.

March 6, 2011 — Elk Grove, Calif.: Two elderly Sikh men in traditional garb, out for a daily afternoon walk, are shot and killed. The perpetrator is not found.

May 30, 2011 — New York, N.Y.: Jiwan Singh, an MTA worker and the father of Jasmir Singh, who was assaulted in early 2009 in Queens, is attacked on the A train and accused of being related to Osama bin Laden.

Feb. 6, 2012 — Sterling Heights, Mich.: A gurdwara (Sikh temple) is defaced with graffiti that includes a gun and references to 9/11.

Aug. 5, 2012 — Oak Creek, Wis.: A gunman is shot dead by police after he opened fire in a Gurdwara during Sikh prayer services, killing six.

May 5, 2013 — Fresno, Cal.: 81 year old Piara Singh was beaten with a steel pipe outside a Fresno Gurdwara in what police have determined to be a hate crime.

July, 30, 2013– Riverside, Cal.: Riverside Gurdwara near Los Angeles, California reported  the words “Terrorist” and “Terrist!” scrawled on the brick walls surrounding the Gurdwara and parking lot.

Terrorist, we are NOT. Terrorism, we DO NOT promote. America IS our home too. Help us to continue to bring awareness to Sikhs and Sikhism. Help us so we can make sure events like these including the massiveness of 9/11 never occur again.

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Religious Tolerance or Religious Embrace? Memorial Service Honoring the Six Slain Sikhs in Oak Creek, Wisconsin http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/2013/09/religious-tolerance-or-religious-embrace-memorial-service-honoring-the-six-slain-sikhs-in-oak-creek-wisconsin/ Wed, 11 Sep 2013 00:42:46 +0000 http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/?p=2019

“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.

 

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UNITED SIKHS: Filling Gaps in Community Oral Health Needs http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/2013/06/united-sikhs-filling-gaps-in-community-oral-health-needs/ http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/2013/06/united-sikhs-filling-gaps-in-community-oral-health-needs/#comments Mon, 10 Jun 2013 04:32:58 +0000 http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/?p=1995

Highlights:

  • UNITED SIKHS’ team provided free medical and oral health screenings
  • Promoting Oral Health and Dental care in the Sikh Community
  • Click here for more information on CEED Projects and how you can volunteer to help.

New York/New Jersey, USA – Results from an ongoing study conducted by UNITED SIKHS and partners, within the Sikh American community in New York, show that more than half (53%) of all Sikh South Asian surveyed members have never received a check-up or screening from a dentist. Identifying and acting upon this need, UNITED SIKHS’ Community Empowerment and Education Directorate (CEED) team provided free medical and oral health screenings: on April 7, 2013 at the Gurdwara Dashmesh Darbar in Port Reading, NJ; on April 21, 2013 at the Gurdwara Sikh Cultural Society in Richmond Hill, NY; and on June 2, 2013 at the Gurdwara Sikh Sabha in Port Reading, NJ.

Supported by the Dentaquest Foundation’s National Community Committee Oral Health Initiative, this was the first time our health projects focused on oral health and its relationship with chronic medical conditions, such as, diabetes and hypertension. Our partners in this undertaking are the New York University Prevention Research Center, New York University College of Dentistry, many Gurdwaras across New York and New Jersey and community members.

The highlight of the event was addressing oral health promotion in the Sikh American communities in New York and New Jersey, and built a capacity for community engagement for oral health. The four-hour oral health screenings attracted over one hundred and fifty participants who took advantage of our fifty volunteers providing language support and access to oral health services such as proper teeth cleaning and flossing, preventing cavities, oral health tips, glucose, blood pressure, body mass index, oral cancer screenings and oral health awareness.

Screening

Gurjeet Kaur, a community member who attended said, “It was a wonderful event and was very helpful. At the oral screening, I found that I had a cavity which I will get taken care of. I learned how to take better care of my teeth. The event was very well organized and all the volunteers were very helpful.”

Dr. Rucha Kaur, CEED manager, UNITED SIKHS, expressed her excitement of the event saying, “This is an example of community-academic collaboration where we are building upon projects we have previously undertaken in the community. More than half (53%) of all Sikh South Asian surveyed members, in our study, had never received a check-up or screening from a dentist. We recognized the crucial gap in the health needs of our community members and brought resources and partners to address and educate the community.”

Health providers were faculty and students from NYU College of Dentistry, individual doctors, medical assistants and dental hygienists, who volunteered their time and expertise. Each participant was given an information brochure to take with them detailing oral care and its importance.

Issued By:

Dr. Seema Kaur Director,

Community Empowerment and Education Directorate (CEED)

UNITED SIKHS

Tel: 1-646-688-3525 ceed-usa@unitedsikhs.org

Contact us | Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

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Reminder:Grand Opening of Sikh Heritage Photo Exhibition Today http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/2013/04/grand-opening-of-sikh-heritage-photo-exhibition/ Sat, 06 Apr 2013 03:46:45 +0000 http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/?p=1898

Grand Opening of Sikh Heritage Photo Exhibition Today

Atlanta, Georgia: UNITED SIKHS is proud to invite you and your families on behalf of the Gurudwara, Guru Nanak Mission Society of Atlanta to attend the grand opening of the Sikh heritage photo exhibition.

Program of Grand Opening on Saturday, April 6

Venue: 1158 Rockbridge Road, Norcross, GA 30093
Date: April 1st – 20th
Reception & Refreshment: 4 PM
Grand Opening Ceremony: 5 PM
Guru Ka Langar: 6 PM

Gurudwara Sahib aims to create awareness of the historical significance of the Sikh community and its legacy through its exhibits. The exhibition is featuring photo displays of rare art and artifacts of Sikh heritage including Kalgi of Guru Gobind Singh, painting, photographs, and manuscripts.

Guru Gobind Singh gifted his personal belongings, arms, and handwritten manuscripts to his followers, which are preserved as rare collections. His handwritten and signed hukumnamas (commandments) are preserved in museums at Sikh Takhts (Primary Shrines). A strong urge to protect and preserve the Sikh history, its distinct identity and culture was posed. Various Sikh groups made sustained efforts to create a collection of documents and to build a repository that includes clothes, monuments, rare jewelry, ornaments, rare frescoes, tapestries, manuscripts and numismatics associated with the Sikh gurus and emperors.

Katar of Guru Gobind Singh Ji Kirpan of Guru Teg Bahadur Singh Ji
Guru Gobind Singh’s Katar, Size 20”x30” Kirpan of Guru Teg Bahadur Ji
Both Relics are in the collection of the Maharaja of Patiala at Moti Bagh Palace

The photo displays in the exhibits are:

  • Chola (robe) of Guru Nanak Sahib,
  • Personal belongings of Guru Hargobind Sahib,
  • Images of rare manuscripts,
  • Illustrated folios,
  • Hukumnamas (commandments),
  • A beautiful personal Kirpal (scimitar) of Guru Gobind Singh,
  • Breast plate with gold inscription of Guru Gobind Singh,
  • Historic khanda used at the time of the formation of the Khalsa,
  • A bed-sheet of the Guru Gobind Singh,
  • Panchkala Shastra (weapon) of Guru Gobind Singh,
  • A chakki (grindstone) used to grind flour for Guru Gobind Singh,
  • Rare photographs of the collection of artifacts in the Toshakhana of the Golden Temple,
  • A shield from the armies of Maharaja Ranjit Singh,
  • Photographs of valuable relics.

For more information please contact Gurudwara Sahib at 770-931-3490, email: atlanta.gurdwara@gmail.com.

Issued By
Jasminder Kaur
888-243-1690

 

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First Sikh American Offers Prayers at the 67th United Nations General Assembly Opening Session http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/2013/03/first-sikh-american-offers-prayers-at-the-67th-united-nations-general-assembly-opening-session/ http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/2013/03/first-sikh-american-offers-prayers-at-the-67th-united-nations-general-assembly-opening-session/#comments Fri, 08 Mar 2013 06:31:36 +0000 http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/?p=1848

Community Update

First Sikh American Offers Prayers at the 67th United Nations General Assembly Opening Session!

Highlights:

  • Jatinder P. Singh, a Sikh American and an Associate Director, UNITED SIKHS, offers prayers at the 67th United Nations (UN) General Assembly opening session conducted in the General Assembly building of the UN.
  • Over 1500 attendees, including UN President H.E. Mr. Vuk Jeremic and leaders from various religious organizations across the globe, joined hands to promote messages of world peace.
  • UNITED SIKHS is the first Sikh UN-DPI affiliated organization and is recognized by the United Nations since December 2007.
  • Click here to see the prayer.

Mar 06, 2013
25th Phagun (Samvat 544 Nanakshahi
New York, USA
:Jatinder P. Singh, a Sikh American and Associate Director, UNITED SIKHS, offered prayers at the United Nations 67th General Assembly opening session. The event, ‘United for a Culture of Peace Through Interfaith Harmony’, was part of the annual World Interfaith Harmony Week. Organized by the Office of the President of the 67th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and The Committee of Religious NGOs, this event was held at United Nations General Assembly Hall on February 14th, 2013.

Each participant was allotted a time of thirty seconds for their prayer. Jatinder P. Singh recited excerpts from the Mool Mantar accompanied by a musical piece played by Jon Blond on the flute. The following is an excerpt from Jatinder P. Singh’s prayer:

“Ik Onkaar, Satnaam… In this age of darkness this world is filled with maya, money, and weapons of mass destruction. The only answer to save this world is through prayers in the company of saints.”

Jatinder P. Singh also read the English translation of an excerpt from Sukhmani Sahib (Ashtpadi 7.3).

“In the company of saints all enemies become friends. In the company of saints, man becomes very pure…” He also added, “I truly hope one day, all the countries can get together at the United Nations and just pray for world peace.”

After delivering his prayer, Jatinder P. Singh was approached by members of the UN and other faith groups, who shared how they were moved by the positive and uplifting message of peace.

A flag ceremony followed the prayers. Flags of UN member nations were hoisted with a heart-warming welcome and blessing of peace upon each country.

The UN General Assembly is the main deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the United Nations. Comprising of 193 members of the United Nations, it provides a unique platform for multilateral discussions on the international issues covered by the UN Charter.

The event ended with closing statements from Ms. Monica Willard, President of the Committee of Religious NGO’s. There were over 1500 attendees from various organizations including Gail Bindley, UN General; Philippe Kridelka, Director of UNESCO; Ambassador Byrganym Aitimova,Permanent Representative of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the United Nations; Reverend Father Mark Arey, Director of Inter-Orthodox group; Ms. Kiran Bali, Chair of the United Religions Initiative Global Council, and H.E. Ambassador T. Hamid Al-Bayati, Permanent Representative of Iraq to the United Nations.

Messages of world peace and prayers were offered by various religious organizations including:Tuwe Huni Kuin–Brazilian Amazon Huni Kuin community, Caroline Vasquez–Baha’i International community, Ven. Seong Won–Director, social affairs at Korean Zen Buddhism, Rev. Kathleen Stone–United Methodist Church, Swami Parameshananda–Bharat Sevashram Sangha, Lucy Schmitz–Ethical Culture Society, Apeksha Vora–Member, Anuvrat Global Organization, Rabbi Michael Weisser–Free Synagogue of Flushing, Imam Izak El M. Pasha–Masjid Malcolm Shabazz, and Nina Mistry–Federation of Zoroastrian Associations of North America.

UNITED SIKHS is humbled to partake in this event where representatives from various countries and religions were able to come together amidst international conflict and share common values of peace and pluralism.

Manmeet Singh
Staff Attorney, International Civil and Human Rights Advocacy (ICHRA)
UNITED SIKHS
Tel: (646) 315-3909
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law@unitedsikhs.org

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UNITED SIKHS Joins Elected Officials to Commemorate Illinois House Resolution 1193, Denouncing Hate Crimes Against Sikh Americans and Other Minorities http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/2012/12/united-sikhs-joins-elected-officials-to-commemorate-illinois-house-resolution-1193-denouncing-hate-crimes-against-sikh-americans-and-other-minorities/ Sat, 22 Dec 2012 03:46:40 +0000 http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/?p=1784 Palatine, Illinois: On Sunday, December 16th, UNITED SIKHS joined the South Asian and Sikh community at Palatine Gurdwara to commemorate the passing of House Resolution 1193 (HR 1193). This Resolution denounces the deplorable attacks on Sikh Americans and denounces hate crimes and hateful political rhetoric.

UNITED SIKHS worked with South Asian Policy and Research Institute (SAAPRI), Council on American-Islamic Relations Chicago (CAIR-Chicago) and the Sikh Religious Society of Chicago (Palatine Gurdwara Management Committee) in drafting the language and advocating for this resolution. “We hope the resolution will provide an agenda for even more specific laws for the future,” said Ami Gandhi, Executive Director at SAAPRI.

Rep. Biss (Photo courtesy of CAIR-Chicago)

Rep. Biss speaking to Palatine Gurdwara Sangat (Photo courtesy of CAIR-Chicago)

Ald. Pawar, Greg Bales, Rep. Biss and Sen. Murphy (Photo courtesy of CAIR-Chicago)

Ald. Pawar, Greg Bales, Rep. Biss and Sen. Murphy (Photo courtesy of CAIR-Chicago)

Rep. Mussman (Photo courtesy of CAIR-Chicago)

Rep. Mussman  speaking to Palatine Gurdwara Sangat (Photo courtesy of CAIR-Chicago)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Palatine Gurdwara President Sukhdev Kaur began the commemoration by observing a moment of silence for the victims of the Newtown Connecticut shooting and making a request that the congregation pray for the families of the victims. Among the elected officials who made remarks at the commemoration and the press conference that followed were Senator Matt Murphy (27th District), Rep. Daniel Biss (17th District), Rep. Michelle Mussman (56th District), Alderman Ameya Pawar (47th Ward) and Greg Bales from US Senator Dick Durbin’s office.

Ald. Pawar, Sen. Murphy, Rep. Biss and Rep. Mussman (Photo courtesy of CAIR-Chicago)

Ald. Pawar, Sen. Murphy, Rep. Biss and Rep. Mussman (Photo courtesy of CAIR-Chicago)

Ekta Kaur, Ald. Pawar, Vikram Singh, Amrith Kaur, Rep. Biss, Sukhdev Kaur and Sen. Murphy (Photo courtesy of CAIR-Chicago)

Ekta Kaur, Ald. Pawar, Vikram Singh, Amrith Kaur, Rep. Biss, Sukhdev Kaur and Sen. Murphy (Photo courtesy of CAIR-Chicago)

Community at Press Conference (Photo courtesy of CAIR-Chicago)

Community at Press Conference (Photo courtesy of CAIR-Chicago)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“We are excited to work with our state legislators, faith-based groups, and policy organizations to promote tolerance and counter bigotry,” said Rabya Khan, Staff Attorney at CAIR-Chicago. “This resolution is a first step in acknowledging that there is a greater need to educate the greater Illinois community on Sikh Americans and other minorities,” said Ekta Kaur, Regional Director of UNITED SIKHS. She added “Our community and the Illinois government must work together to create further programs to help prevent hate crimes and uphold our civil rights.”

Shiva Singh, Ald. Pawar, Sen. Murphy, Vikram Singh and Rep. Biss (Photo courtesy of SAAPRI)

Shiva Singh Khalsa, Ald. Pawar, Sen. Murphy, Vikram Singh and Rep. Biss (Photo courtesy of SAAPRI)

Ekta Kaur, Ald. Pawar, Vikram Singh, Amrith Kaur, Rep. Biss, Sukhdev Kaur, Sen. Murphy, Rajinder Mago, Balwant Hansra, Ami Gandhi, Gurdwara Attendee, Ahmed Rehab (Photo courtesy of SAAPRI)

UNITED SIKHS, SAAPRI, CAIR-Chicago and Sikh Religious Society of Chicago with Elected Officials (Photo courtesy of SAAPRI)

Tejas Shah, Ekta Kaur, Ald. Pawar and Vikram Singh (Photo courtesy of CAIR-Chicago)

Tejas Shah, Ekta Kaur, Ald. Pawar and Vikram Singh (Photo courtesy of CAIR-Chicago)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SEE ALSO: Recent article by local journalist Mariam Khan, “State lawmakers’ new anti-hate resolution could boost Chicago’s immigrant-friendly drive.”

To volunteer in the greater Chicago area, please contact Ekta Kaur at ekta.kaur@unitedsikhs.org.

Vikram Singh
Pro Bono Counsel
UNITED SIKHS (Illinois)
Tel: 888-243-1690
vikram.singh@unitedsikhs.org

UNITED SIKHS – Recognize the Human Race as One

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UNITED SIKHS Voter Registration Drive at Illinois Gurdwara http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/2012/10/united-sikhs-voter-registration-drive-at-illinois-gurdwara/ Wed, 10 Oct 2012 01:12:11 +0000 http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/?p=1708 23rd Assu (Samvat 544 Nanakshahi)

Oct 7th. 2012, Palatine, Illinois: On Sunday, October 7th, UNITED SIKHS along with the Asian American Institute held a Voter Registration Drive at Palatine Gurdwara. A total of 35 people were registered to vote in Illinois at the Gurdwara. The President of the Gurdwara, Sukhdev Kaur Ghuman was very supportive and commended UNITED SIKHS for their successful and collaborative community advocacy efforts. Ekta Kaur of UNITED SIKHS said, “We loved working with the Palatine Gurdwara community and request other Gurdwara leaders to play an active role in encouraging their members to register to vote.”

UNITED SIKHS would like to thank Ami Gandhi, Executive Director of South Asian Policy and Research Institute and Reema Ahmad, Civic Engagement and Field Operations Manager at the American Asian Institute for all their assistance. Two members of the Asian American Institute assisted UNITED SIKHS at the Gurdwara and also brought Illinois Voter Registration forms and Mail-In Ballot forms.

While the Gurdwara had held voter registration drives in the prior two weeks by other organizations, this event registered significantly more members of the Gurdwara because of the ability of the UNITED SIKHS team to communicate effectively with community members, many of whom only spoke Punjabi. Sukhdev Kaur, the Gurdwara President said, “I am very excited about UNITED SIKHS efforts and look forward to working with you again in the future on advocacy projects directed toward the Sikh community.”

Vikram Singh, a UNITED SIKHS Volunteer Attorney based in Chicago, IL, said, “Sikhs and other minorities in every state should make their voices be heard by registering to vote and encouraging their communities to participate in civic engagement. Our vote is a very powerful mechanism for giving us a voice and the ability to control the legislation and policies enacted in our states, including laws that affect the rights of Sikhs and other minorities.”

To initiate a voter registration drive in your Gurdwara or local community center, please reach out to Ekta Kaur at ekta.kaur@unitedsikhs.org or voter-registration-usa@unitedsikhs.org.

Ekta Kaur
Cell: 516-286-6727 | Tel: 1-646-688-3525 | Toll Free: 1-888-243-1690
Fax: 1-810-885-4264 | Email: ekta.kaur@unitedsikhs.org

UNITED SIKHS – Recognize the Human Race as One

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Explore the aesthetic and expressive traditions within Sikhism this fall at Hofstra University http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/2012/09/explore-the-aesthetic-and-expressive-traditions-within-sikhism-this-fall-at-hofstra-university/ Wed, 26 Sep 2012 04:52:54 +0000 http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/?p=1658 Hofstra University and the Sardarni Kuljit Kaur Bindra Chair in Sikh Studies invites you to a conference on the  literary and  visual cultures within, or pertaining to,  Sikh traditions both in Panjabi and Diasporic contexts. The conference will be held from Oct 19-21, 2012 at Hofstra University.

For more information and registration, please visit:

http://www.hofstra.edu/Academics/Colleges/HCLAS/REL/SIKH/sikh_literature_fall12.html

For inquiries please contact Mehwish Shafi : mehwishafi91@gmail.com

Poster 1 Two Talks 8.5×11

Poster 2 Two Talks in Conf 8.5×11

Poster 3 All 11×17

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Attention:​Venue Change for Senate Hearing on Hate Crimes on September 19th http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/2012/09/attention%e2%80%8bvenue-change-for-senate-hearing-on-hate-crimes-on-september-19th/ Wed, 19 Sep 2012 12:12:52 +0000 http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/?p=1655 Community Update
Washington DC, DC: The Senate Judiciary Hearing on Hate Crimes and Domestic Extremism is today,  Wednesday, September 19th at 2:30 pm (Hart Senate Office Building, Room 216 – Please note the location change). 

Even though the hearing is today, there are still many ways that your organization can show its support as well as resources to assist you.

1.       Attend the hearing and post-hearing press conference:  We need to pack the hearing room to emphasize the importance of these issues to all communities.  Also, a press conference will be held at approximately 4:30pm (immediately after the hearing) outside of the hearing room featuring allies supporting the hearing.  Please attend and encourage colleagues, local affiliates, and constituents to attend!  If you plan to attend, please fill out this RSVP form created by the Sikh Coalition so that we can get a sense of the number of people attending and the necessary space required.  If you cannot attend, you can also stream it here.

2.       Issue a press release or write an op-ed.  Press releases are of the utmost importance in order to spread the word regarding this hearing nationally and should be issued the Wednesday morning (tomorrow).  Additionally, op-eds are extremely helpful in making the public aware of the hearing and the importance of this hearing to your communities.  We encourage organizations to submit op-eds of no longer than 700 words to online media in order to have them published in a timely fashion.

  3.       Tweet during the hearing:  The hashtag is #antihate if you or your organization wishes to tweet.  Please tweet frequently!

4.       Submit an organizational statement for the record:  The record remains open for a week after the hearing and organizations can still submit statements of the record until that time (though they will not be referenced during Wednesday’s hearing).   (Note:  Please see below for information from the ACLU on messaging regarding “domestic extremism.”) . All statements must be emailed to Stephanie Trifone at stephanie_trifone@judiciary-dem.senate.gov by Wednesday, September 26th at 5 p.m. EDT / 4 p.m. CDT / 3 p.m. PDT.  Feel free to bcc law-usa@unitedsikhs.org and info@saalt.org  when submitting your statement.

*Message from the ACLU:  Though the title of the hearing includes the phrase “domestic extremism,” there are concerns regarding this phrase and the fundamental First Amendment issues it raises. Primarily, the concern is that using the language “domestic extremism” rather than “violent extremists” puts the focus on ideas the government considers extreme, rather than illegal action taken by individuals.   The ACLU and other First Amendment advocacy groups worked with the Homeland Security Committees back in 2007 when “domestic radicalization” was their preferred euphemism and persuaded them to instead use “violent extremism,” which has become the common phraseology.  While this was not the preferred outcome (the preference was “violent extremists” because the “ism” still suggests a focus on ideology rather than action), it was successful in that the government acknowledged that the focus should be on violence rather than ideas.  The government has used the radicalization theory and the pursuit of “extremism” as a justification for investigating and monitoring both religious communities and political activists.  Peaceful advocacy organizations of all types have been subjected to the same sorts of over-aggressive enforcement tactics (ubiquitous surveillance, aggressive informants, sting operations, etc.) as have minority religious communities, and there is a risk of alienating them based on the inadvertent suggestion that the government can target them for their ideas and activism.  The ACLU urges the use of the term “violent extremist” so that law enforcement focuses on violent actions and the people who commit them, rather than ideas that the government may consider outside of the norm.  In formulating your testimony and statements for the record, please consider your use of language and messaging for your statement of the record.  For more information, please contact Mike German at mgerman@dcaclu.org or Devon Chaffee at dchaffee@dcaclu.org.

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