In the Sikh Temple Turlock a group of nine volunteer teachers have built a successful youth education program that is teaching students about the importance of the Sikh cultural heritage, faith and equality.
An essential part of that cultural heritage education is the Punjabi school where students are learning the Punjabi language and the Sikh religion. Part of the Punjabi school’s dedication to its students is a Student of the Month award for the student who earns the most aggregate points in their studies. This month’s student is Harneet Gill.
Harneet is a fifth grader at Cunningham Elementary in Turlock and she says she finds her class interesting because she learns the Punjabi language and the history of her culture.
Sikhism is a religion that believes in one God and it was founded in the 15th century in the Punjab region, which is located in India and Pakistan. Sikhism was originally discovered by Guru Nanek Dev Ji and later developed by the teachings of 10 successive Sikh Gurus.
The principal beliefs of Sikhism are faith, justice and the equality amongst all humans.
Students at the Turlock Sikh Temple spoke about the Guru Granth Sahib, also known as the Adi Granth, which is the religious text of Sikhism.
In the Adi Granth, values such as honesty, hard work, simple living, sharing, education and respect are taught. As part of Sikhism followers are instructed to eat vegetarian diets and are encouraged not to cut their hair — hence the common sight of turbans. Men are also encouraged not to shave their beards. However, in the United States Sikhs have modified their appearance to become more in line with mainstream culture.
“Sikh is like a whole new culture. We learn how we are unique, how to pray and that God is one and we learn about respecting other cultures,” said student Jaskaran Singh.
Baljit “Bill” Lachhar of channel 9’s “India Vision” said part of the school is teaching Sikh children about Sikh culture so they can go out and educate mainstream America about their beliefs.
“After the terrorist attacks of 9/11 there have been misunderstandings and Sikhs have been attacked. It is important that these children learn about their cultural identity so that they can feel confident about educating others about our religion. Even now there is still violence against Sikhs,” he said.
Lacchar further explained that in Turlock and Valley communities Sikhs are well known and active citizens but attacks still occur in areas where Sikhs aren’t as numerous.
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