Wednesday, August 10, 2016


I saw a Sikh today and I wanted to rush up to him and engage him in conversation.  In the few seconds that he was near enough to me to have a conversation, I wondered to myself if I would want a stranger accosting me simply because I were "different".

Later, in discussing this moral dilemma with my brother, he said, "Of course YOU would have wanted him to initiate a conversation with you!"  He chided me further by saying, "I haven't seen you this excited since you spotted an INDIGO BUNTING!"

What would I have wanted to say to him anyway?  That not all Americans are ignorant;  that I am sorry that Sikhs have been treated unfairly? Please accept my apologies on behalf of sane people?

My brother asked, "So, how much do you know about Sikhs? You might have just embarrassed yourself by revealing how little you know."  I answered that I knew that the turbans and beards were part of their religious customs and that the men and women do not cut their hair.  I remembered that Indira Gandhi had Sikh guards who assassinated her.  I knew that all Sikh men have the name Singh as their middle or last name.  My brother said, "So, not much, eh?"  He continued, "Did you know that Nikki Haley was born Sikh but converted to Christianity?"  He always knows more than I do.

Sikhism is a monotheistic religion that teaches equality, honesty, and the importance of good acts and deeds over rituals.  In doing research I learned that there are 25 million Sikhs worldwide with between 250,000 and 500,000 Sikhs in the United States and the first Sikhs came to this country in the nineteenth century to escape religious persecution.  I did not know that there were large populations of Sikhs outside of India.

In the following days, I conducted a poll of twenty-five people with whom I came in contact.  I was surprised to learn that nearly all had no knowledge about Sikhs or had not heard of Sikhs, but when I described them, nearly all thought they were Muslim.  One person asked, "How could you be sure that he was a Sikh and not just a Muslim?"  I answered, "Because he was waiting in line and his name was called out, "Table for Singh."  One person who had actually met a Sikh couple and had interaction with them, had a very favorable impression of Sikhs, saying that they are "good people" but she couldn't eat the spicy food.  She also knew that it was a religion originating in India and that all Sikh men had the name Singh.

Click on the enjoyable Sikhs In America from YouTube:


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Only YOU would know THAT much about Sikhs! Only Les would know about Nikki Haley! ML