Archive for the ‘UNITED SIKHS-USA’ Category.

Sikh Community of Seattle Offers Helping Hand to Washington Wildfire Victims

Seattle, Washington-UNITED SIKHS and the Sikh community of Washington have organized a relief effort in support of victims of the hundreds of wildfires that have devastated the state since July.

Community members gather at the check presentation ceremony in Washington State. Photo courtesy of The Chronicle.

Over the last few weeks, UNITED SIKHS’ United States Northwest region coordinator Balwant Singh worked with the Seattle Sikh sangat, or Sikh congregation, to raise a total of $20,000. Members of the six-family Omak Sikh community raised an additional $6,000. In total, a check of $26,000 was donated to the Community Foundation of North Central Washington, which manages multiple fire relief funds that aim to assist wildfire victims as effectively as possible by assessing specific needs and channeling donations directly to affected individuals. $15,000 of the donation was designated to the families of the three firefighters who have lost their lives since the fires began, with each family receiving $5,000. The rest of the money will be utilized directly for fire victims.

UNITED SIKHS is grateful for your continued support, which allows us to provide assistance victims and their families.

 

“God gave us the same color blood.”

During the check presentation ceremony, which took place at Okanogan Behavioral Healthcare, Harminder Singh, Harbhajan Singh, Kuldip Singh, Balwant Singh, and other members of the local Sikh community were present. Mayors Jon Culp and Cindy Gagne of Okanagan and Omak, respectively, attended the ceremony as well. Not only was this event an opportunity to provide seva, or selfless service, to those in need, but also a chance for the local Sikh population to build common ground with their fellow community members, comprised of Sikhs and non-Sikhs alike, and to present themselves as the supportive, concerned, and active citizens that they are. Balwant Singh addressed the community members in attendance, stating,”We are the Sikh people-different look, different faces. But the almighty God gave us the same color blood. God sent us here to help each other.”

This year, wildfires have burned over 8 million acres of land in the United States. Wildfires have been burning in Washington State since July, forcing hundreds of people to evacuate as numerous homes have been destroyed. Victims, firefighters, and evacuees are still in need of immediate assistance.

UNITED SIKHS is now collecting canned food and clothing for those affected by the wildfires. To donate, please contact

sikhaid-usa@unitedsikhs.org

UNITED SIKHS Remembers and Prays for the Lives Lost on 9/11/01

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.

Continue reading ‘UNITED SIKHS Remembers and Prays for the Lives Lost on 9/11/01’ »

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.

 

UNITED SIKHS: Filling Gaps in Community Oral Health Needs

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

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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 cosponsor and speak at the “NYC 2013: Electing the Right(s) Mayor” Forum

On Sunday, May 5, 2013 at 2pm, the Arab American, Muslim, Sikh, and South Asian community of New York gathered at New York University to hear where mayoral candidates stand on important issues affecting our community.  The packed room listened in as moderator Errol Louis, of NY1, asked candidates tough questions.  Mayoral candidates in attendance were: Sal Albanese, Bill de, Blasio, Adolfo Carrion, Jr., John C. Liu, Christine C. Quinn, Erick Salgado, and Bill Thompson.  UNITED SIKHS cosponsored this event and policy advocacy and representative, Anisha Singh, asked the candidates how they would address bias-based bullying.

Anisha asked the candidates about their bias-based bullying prevention initiatives. She stated, “Three out of four Sikh American boys are bullied in the United States due to their appearance.  They were called Bin Laden, terrorist, and told to go ‘back to their country’ even if they were born and raised in the United States. Too many of our children are victims of hate crimes. In 2008, a Sikh boy’s turban was lit on fire by a classmate in New Jersey.  That same year a New York City Sikh girl’s uncut, sacred, hair was forcibly cut by a classmate.  A year later, another New York City Sikh boy was punched and harassed daily for about a year and nothing was done for him until it escalated to disturbing degrees of violence.  Those are just three examples within a period of a year.  Our children are afraid to go to school and are constantly looking over their shoulder with this fear, all at such a young age.  As Mayor, what preventative measured are you going to take to ensure our children are not victims of bullying and hate crimes in their schools?” she asked.

In response to the question, candidates and audience members gasped and began tweeting their thoughts (for more see: #Right4NY). Sal Albanese spoke on his experience working in public school education and his belief that the message must go out to the public that bullying will not be tolerated.  Bill de Blasio gained applause from the audience when he addressed the issue by stating that “we as a nation have let go of civics at a time when it is most vital for civic education to become a priority.”  Adolfo Carrion said “it will be his mayoral directive to speak to parents of children who bully other children to make sure they are educated.”  He also said that this was an issue that was “swept under the rug” and thanked Anisha for highlighting the issue.  Christine Quinn responded by saying that, “just as students are victims of bullying and are afraid to walk into their school buildings, so are the teachers and staff who also get victimized.”  To address this she posed the implementation of staff trainings for teachers and, if elected, she would visit schools with bullying incidents the morning after the incident happened.  Erick Salgado said there should be “zero tolerance” for bullying and there needs to be a hotline for reporting these bullying incidents.

John Liu stole the spotlight by speaking at length about Sikh advocacy work. He started by thanking UNITED SIKHS for our work and pointing out that Sikh advocacy groups work hard to come up with free curriculum kits for school to use to educate their students on Sikhism yet these kits are ignored by the schools.  He also pointed out that complaints to the Department of Education are not taken seriously but that these complaints and incidents need to be addressed and even tracked.  Finally, he spoke on how the NYPD does not allow Sikhs to wear turbans while on the police force and this also needs to change.  Bill Thompson agreed with Liu about getting rid of the NYPD turban regulation in order to show Sikhs are a part of and accepted by the community.

Other memorable moments at the forum included opening statements and other important questions posed to the candidates. In her opening statement, Christine C. Quinn stated, “[We should be] bringing communities together, not ripping them apart.” Bill de Blasio spoke on the need for Muslim Holidays and John C. Liu recognized that our communities suffered the most.

Other questions posed to the candidates included topics of religious freedom, police accountability, free speech, and Muslim school holidays.  In light of the “Ground Zero Mosque” opposition, candidates asked what they would do as mayor to ensure that people of faith are able to build places of worship and that no neighborhood in our city is off limits to any community.  In addition, candidates were informed that zero leads have been produced from years of warrantless spying and profiling by the NYPD on Muslim and Sikh Americans.  When candidates were asked to raise their hands if they thought the current NYPD surveillance program is unconstitutional, only John C. Liu and Erick Salgado raised their hands.  John Liu added, “America is a place of religious freedom.  How can anyone here think it is okay to spy on people just because they look Muslim?” All other candidates present claimed that while they thought the NYPD surveillance is constitutional, they think it is wrong.  Nourah AbuShaban, an NYU student, also asked the candidates to speak on the protection of free speech.

To see the buzz from the event, search #Right4NY on twitter and read comments from candidates, participants, and the audience.

 

Anisha Singh, Policy Advocate for UNITED SIKHS, asks candidates about bias-based bullying

Anisha Singh, Policy Advocate for UNITED SIKHS, asks candidates about bias-based bullying

Mayoral Candidates

Mayoral Candidates

Mayoral Candidates

Mayoral Candidates

Reminder:Grand Opening of Sikh Heritage Photo Exhibition Today

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

 

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’ »

Becoming an Eco-Sikh !!

 

 USLogo  EcoSikhPoster

UNITED SIKHS  in collaboration with EcoSikh is planning to outreach all their members and sangat about Sikh Environment Day.

Becoming an Eco-Sikh !!

15th March 2013, Fremont California:

Environmentalism and Sikhism are commonly looked upon as two completely separate theologies. It is only when we look closely at the Gurbani, we can see how important our environment is to basic Sikh spirituality. Continue reading ‘Becoming an Eco-Sikh !!’ »

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

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. Continue reading ‘First Sikh American Offers Prayers at the 67th United Nations General Assembly Opening Session’ »