On Sept. 27, Baruch College’s United Sikh Association gave a presentation on what the Sikhism religion is and what it means.
Sikhism originated in 15th century Punjab, modern day India and Pakistan.
The basic beliefs of Sikhism are equality for all, daily devotion to God, religious freedom, service to others and rejecting all forms of rituals.
Sikhism rejects the rituals of idol worship, pilgrimage, fasting and superstition, but there are several festivals celebrating Sikh holidays throughout the year. Prayer is also taken very seriously.
There are three ways in which Sikhism differs from other religions. First, God in Sikhism does not have a human form.
“It’s a divine source. It’s like an energy or a light, which we have to try to reach in our life on Earth as a human being,” said Vice President Ginipal Singh.
Additionally, Sikhs do not persuade others to join their religion and do not practice baptism.
“We don’t go around, like you see the Jehovah’s witnesses, we don’t do that. We don’t believe in forcing religion onto others. It’s something that comes from within,” said Singh.
Jaspreet Kaur, president of the association, was quick to correct Singh when he said spoke about baptism. “It’s not called baptism, it’s something completely different. Then we’re going to be associated with Christianity. It’s a completely separate process.”
Kaur then explained an Amrit is the initiation that someone goes through when they are ready to fully dedicate themselves to the religion.
A major part of the religion for men is the five Ks: Kesh, Kangha, Kirpan, Kachera and Kara. Kesh is uncut hair that is typically tied back or in a turban and a Kangha is a brush that helps clean and untangle hair. Kirpan is a dagger that is worn to defend others when they see someone in need. Kacheras are boxer shorts worn by Sikhs. Lastly, Kara is an iron bracelet worn as a reminder of God.
After serving pizza and introducing the basics of Sikhism, the members showed a video of Sikhs explaining the stereotypes they face on a daily basis.
These included being told they smell like curry, others not being able to pronounce their name, people assuming they are Muslim and being told to go back to their own country. Islam and Sikhism are completely different religions.
Then, volunteers went to the front of the room to learn how to put on a turban. Several of the volunteers were women and got an up-close look at how difficult it is to wrap a turban properly.
The United Sikh Association is open to all religions and has several members who actually do not practice Sikhism. The Marketing Director, Mukta Akter, is Muslim and says she enjoys being part of the group and has learned a lot about the religion. The group has become a community of Sikhs who form friendships, do community service and teach the true meaning of Sikhism.