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Sikh Awareness Month: Local group exemplifies selfless service
Sikh pic
Members of Seva a non-profit group of young people focused on selflessly serving the less fortunate throughout the Central Valley prepare food at the Ceres Gurdwara Sahib Sikh Temple. - photo by Photo Contributed

In an effort to recognize and acknowledge the many significant contributions made by Sikh Americans, the California Assembly passed a resolution officially declaring the month of November as Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month – a declaration that has been welcomed by the thousands of Sikhs that call California home.

With hundreds of Sikhs residing in Turlock, the contributions made by their community have not gone unnoticed. In October, the Turlock Parks and Recreation commission approved the recommendation of renaming of a walkway at the city’s northeast storm basin to “Singh Walkway” as a way to honor the city’s Indian-American population and their contributions to the City of Turlock.

Each year, the Gurudwara Sahib Sikh Temple of Turlock puts together various community events – such as the extravagant Sikh parade – inviting people of all religions to join them in their celebrations. Last fall, city officials joined leaders and members of the Sikh temple for a candlelight vigil in remembrance of the victims who were killed during the Wisconsin Sikh temple shooting that occurred in early August 2012.

It is not only the Sikh temple that has made a significant impact on the community. A group of young California State University, Stanislaus Sikh students has found their own method of helping out, starting a non-profit group called “Seva,” a Sanskrit word meaning “selfless service.”

“The meaning of Seva is to serve selflessly, the whole project is pretty much to serve the underserved communities without an agenda,” said member Ashley Maderr. “We are here to help the less fortunate, to help better our community. We have no political reasons, no religious reasons; it is just to serve for love with love.”

Although the group welcomes anyone interested in serving others, regardless of age, race, sexuality or religion, many of the founding members are Sikh. The group, who serves hot, home cooked vegetarian meals to the hungry, is continually gaining new members.

“We’re always accepting new members,” said Maderr. “We collect the money ourselves, using our own pocket money, gather the ingredients we need, cook the meals together and then serve it to the less fortunate.”

The group rotates their free service throughout the Central Valley, having served the Turlock community as well as at the Sikh Temple in Ceres and Central Modesto.

“There’s a big diversity of different people, and it doesn’t matter what age, religion, race or anything like that. We do this with the purest of our hearts and it is all for the love and support of the community,” said Maderr. “It’s our way of showing that we care and that we want to give back.”

The group is continually updating their Facebook page, giving their followers detailed information about where and when their next project will be.

“We try to keep everyone who follows us updated so that if they do want to come and help, they can feel free to drop on by,” said Maderr. “It’s a really nice environment for us to get to meet new people and join together to serve.”

To learn more about Seva and to receive their updates, visit

The Gurudwara Sahib Sikh Temple of Turlock is open to the community Monday through Sunday, located at 1391 5th St.