November 18, 2010 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
Sikhism is the world’s 5th largest religion and about 500 years old. Most Sikhs can trace their roots back to the Punjab region of India and Pakistan. It is estimated that about 500,000 followers of the Sikh faith live across the United States. Most of the males seen in United States with turbans are followers of Sikh religion.
The Sikh community is organizing the meal to celebrate Gurpurab (Day of Guru) of first Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak Dev Ji. The meal is being called “Langar for Needy”. Langar is a 500 year old tradition that was started by Guru Nanak Dev Ji, when he used 20 rupees given to him by his father for business to feed hungry Pilgrims passing through his town. Ever since then feeding the hungry has been a tradition in the Sikh community, which is practiced in the form of a community kitchen. According to Kashmir Singh of United Sikhs, “There is no better way to celebrate Gurpurab than to reaching out to those in need with Guru’s message of compassion”.
November has been also designated as Sikh appreciation and awareness month by California Legislature with the passing of Resolution ACR 181. Organizers of “Langar for Needy” feel that while legislature has done its part, now it is their turn to do something to raise awareness as well. “Sikhs believe in praying, earning honest living and sharing with others. What better way to raise awareness than to share these values with world”, said Inderjit Takhar, member of Fremont Sikh Temple and student at James Logan High School.
Sikhs have been living in northern California for over 100 years now. At first they established themselves as farmers in Sutter County and more recently as entrepreneurs, transporters, engineers and doctors. Several members who have excelled in these fields will be taking part in serving the meals. They look at it as an opportunity to give back to community they have adopted.
United Sikhs, one of the partner organizations has been organizing meals like this all over the world, including England, Canada and United States. In the Bay Area, they are offering meals once a month to residents of Abode House, a homeless shelter in Fremont, CA. They have also been involved in providing aid in the form of food during major disasters, like Haiti, Katrina and flooding in India.
The Sikh community has picked to partner with Glide Memorial Church of San Francisco. Glide Memorial Church serves homeless and those in need throughout the year. The Sikh community has partnered with Glide in the past on several occasions, such as distribution of blankets. According to organizers of “Langar for Needy” they were very excited to have the Sikh community as a partner and are offering full support. Bruce McKinney, Coordinator at Glide Memorial, is looking forward to have some Indian food on the menu.
Community organizers are not only encouraging members of the Sikh faith to take part in the event but also members from other communities to join them too. They want this to be more than just a meal serving event and use it as an exercise to engage with other communities.
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