Facts, Misconceptions of Sikh-American's Discussed at Elk Grove Democrat Club Meeting

March 14, 2015 | As part of the Elk Grove-South County Democrat Club's year-long outreach effort, a representative of the Sikh Coali...

March 14, 2015 |

As part of the Elk Grove-South County Democrat Club's year-long outreach effort, a representative of the Sikh Coalition made an informative presentation at the monthly meeting held on Tuesday night at the Elk Grove Public Library.
Winty Singh, Social Justice Fellow with the Sikh Coalition. 

Speaking on behalf of the Sikh Coalition was their Social Justice Fellow, Winty Singh. In his hour-long presentation, Singh mixed humor to detail facts and dis-spell notions about Sikh's customs and culture and their 100-plus year history in the United States.

Founded over 500 years ago in what is now Pakistan, the religion has grown to over 25 million worldwide followers, making it the fifth largest. Noting the group's size just ahead of Judaism, Singh said, "We know more about Jewish people than we do Sikh people."

Singh said the religion is monotheistic and was established in the presence of India's caste system. One of the founding principles was the equality of all people, and that the word Sikh translates into student.

"It puts everybody on equal footing," he said. "Woman are not possessions of men."

In addition to basic concepts of the religion, Singh also addressed several misconceptions. Among them, Singh explained the religions is not an offshoot of Hinduism or Islam as is commonly believed. 

Singh also noted that the non-partisan Sikh Coalition was founded in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. Following that tragedy, Sikh's were targets of hate crimes because attackers mistakenly identified turban wearing Sikh's as followers of Islam.

Throughout his presentation Singh fielded questions about spiritual aspects of the religion and their history in the United States. Singh told the audience that while not all Sikh's wear turbans, those member that are fully initiated in the faith are required to wear one and that hair should be uncut.

During the question and answer session, Singh was assisted by Sacramento-based attorney Amar Shergill and educator Dr. Bindi Gewal. 

"Our new board thought it important to use our meetings, especially in this off-election year, to educate and enlighten our members and the community on important issues facing us.  Diversity, of course, in one of those issues," said Elk Grove-South County Democrat Club President Dan Schmitt said. "Elk Grove is a very diverse community, and we decided to reach out to groups most of us know very little about."  

At next month's meeting Sen. Richard Pan and Assembly Member Jim Cooper are scheduled to speak. The club also has reached out to the local Muslin community to speak at a future meeting. 

Below is a video of Singh's presentation.


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