who are sikhs

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This presentation was created by the Sikh Communications Council in 2001 following the 9/11 attacks on the US. It contains basic information in Sikhs and Sikh Americans as well as messages intended to protect Sikhs from the post-9/11 xenophobic backlashes.


  • 1.Your Sikh Neighbors

2. Who Are Sikhs? 3. Articles of Faith

  • Kesh - uncut hair: Sikhs do not cut hair or beards to remain in the image that god gave us
  • Kuchha under-shorts (boxers) to represent modesty and fidelity
  • Kanga- comb, made of wood - to keep uncut hair neat and clean
  • Kara - bracelet, made of steel worn on right hand a reminder of noble actions, a symbol of eternity
  • Kirpan - ceremonial small blunt knife symbolizing freedom, liberty and justice

4. Sikh Turbans

  • Mideast headcoverings different
  • 99% of people with turbans in US are Sikhs, not Muslims or Hindus
  • Covers long, uncut hair
  • Approx. 15 feet of cloth wrapped neatly around the head every time it is put on
  • Symbolizes discipline, integrity, humility, and spirituality
  • Religious requirement - must be worn at all times in public

5. Importance of Identity

  • Sikhs feel severely humiliated if asked to remove their turban in public, as this breaks a sacred covenant with god and exposes an intimate part of the body
  • It is very insulting and disrespectful to a Sikh to remove his or her turban
  • Turbans are a mandatory part of Sikh faith
  • A turban is not a hat. It cannot be casually taken on and off. It must be carefully retied each time it is removed
  • Treat the turban with respect

6. 7. Historical OriginsSikhism

  • 22 million Sikhs worldwide
  • 20 million Sikhs in India


  • Founded Sikhism
  • Born in1469
  • 10 Gurus provided spiritual guidance
  • Guru Nanak founded Sikhism based on equality and justice for all

9. Golden Temple, Amritsar Harmandir Sahib1588 Fifth Guru Sentiment of Sikhs Symbol of strength & endurance Survived tyrannical raids Golden Temple 10. GuruGobind Singh

  • Father Martyred to protect theHindus
  • Created the Sikh Nation:Khalsa legion of the pure with Saint/Soldier qualitiesto protect anyone from oppression and injustice
  • Amrit - Sikh Baptism Ceremony in 1699
  • Prescribed the5 Articles of Faith
  • Declared Guru Granth Sahib as the eternal Guruand ultimate spiritual authority for the Sikhs.

11. Beliefs of the Sikhs

  • One god/creator
    • All humans created equal
  • Goal is to be one with god
  • Human life a precious blessing
  • All carry a spark of divine light: consequently no race, pigmentation, gender, is intrinsically superior to others
  • Defenders of social and spiritual justice,
  • Truth, fearless,non-hateful spirit are important in attaining salvation

12. Beliefs of the Sikhs

  • Freedom of speech, religion
  • Equal rights in all walks of life for all persons of all faiths and external looks
    • Note that many countries still ask require religion, race, or nationality on employment applications
      • Elsewhere, people discriminate based on looks
    • Compensation based on merit rather than outward differences
  • Justice and liberty for all
  • Origin of universe is from one light source
    • Life is by gods evolution
    • There are many planets, solar systems and galaxies

13. Values & Practices

  • Seva :Daily selfless service to humanity
  • Vand Chakna :sharing with others
  • Langar : Community Kitchen,
    • An expression of service to community
  • Kirat Kamaiyee : Honest Labor
    • Honest earnings by hard work
    • Do not become burden on the society
  • Daily Prayers & Meditation
    • No passive mediation
      • Maintain channel of knowledge by actively engaging in the society.
      • Prevent stagnation of social and intellectual skills
  • Introspectionconnect now, dont wait for later
    • Bhai Kanyia
    • pioneer of the Red Cross &
    • humanitarian aide organizations

14. Respect for All

  • Protectors of social and spiritual justice for ALL
  • Believers of non-violence
  • Equality of all religions
    • Give relevance to god rather than religion
    • Believers of interfaith diversity
  • Equality of persons
    • Social, spiritual, political rights for all women

15. GURDWARA (Place of Worship)

  • Guru Granth Sahib
  • Nishan Sahib
  • Architecture

2001 Sikh Communications Council, Inc. 16. Inside the Gurdwara

  • All welcome
  • Hymns
  • Heads covered
  • Shoes removed
  • Sit on floor; meditate
  • Community kitchen

17. Gurdwara Functions

  • Education
    • Initially schools were started in Gurdwaras. Now Khalsa schools are held in Gurdwaras, where religion, language, history, art, and other subjects are taught
  • Shelter for stomach, mind, and soul
    • Community kitchen:shelter from hunger
    • Tranquility:safe place to stay to travelers
    • Prayers, meditation, & introspectionfor soul
  • Implementation of equality
    • 4 doors: one on each side
      • Open to all persons without from all directions, religions,
      • Even the holiest Sikh shrines are open to persons of all faiths

18. September 11, 2001

  • Sikhs grieve with America . Like many, Sikhs lost friends, loved ones and colleagues
  • Sikhs unequivocallycondemn the recent terrorist attacks
  • Sikhs continue to donate blood, food, and money, and participate in memorial services
  • At the WTC, Sikh doctors were first on the scene helping save lives

19. First to Help Dr. Navinderdeep Singh Nijher,a fourth year resident Set up the first triage center at ground zero, just in front of one of the collapsed towers.He also helped organize a makeshift morgue in the lobby of the American Express building. 20. An American Hero? Dr Nijher stayed until 2 a.m., mostly treating injured firefighters who had been pulled from the rubble. From there, he went back to the hospital, slept for an hour, and reported for his regular shift at 6 a.m. 21. A Heros Welcome? "Every person was staring at me""People were saying 'There goes one of them now.'Someone yelled 'Go back to your own country!'" 22. Mesa, Arizona Balbir S. Sodhi Former Bay Area Resident Small Businessman 23. Why? "On Sept. 11, America was attacked from abroad," said Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley"However, with the murder of Mr. Sodhi, we have now been attacked from within." 24. Facts More than 200 Incidents against Sikhs alone have been reported since Sept 11thSwaran Kaur Bhullar's car was idling at a red light when two men on a motorcycle pulled up beside her, yanked open her door and shouted, "This is what you get for what you've done to us!"And then, "I'm going to slash your throat!"She was stabbed in the head at least twice before the men, hearing a car approach, sped off. 25. Victims of Sept 11

  • Victims :Sikhs have been victims of a hate backlash and harassment because of their appearance
  • Profiling : Sikhs have been victims of racial profiling at airports & on highways
  • Discrimination : harassment, racial profiling and employment discrimination is making it much harder for Sikhs to wear turbans and other articles of faith - a basic constitutional right

Mr. Balbir Sodhi was killed in Arizona 26. Why Are Sikhs Targets? HATE BLIND RAGE IGNORANCEMISCONCEPTIONS 27. Similarities? 19 Terrorists 0 with Turbans 0 with Beards 0 were Sikhs Where is the cause for concern? 28. Similarities? Head Coverings? Compare the Turbans 29. Muslim Headcoverings

  • Mideast headcoverings different
  • Not a mandatory religious requirement
  • Very rarely seen in the western hemisphere
  • Viewed as pass by some Muslims

30. Summarizing 31. Questions?


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