Monday, March 20, 2006

Sikh Awareness Day: Radiating The Light of Sikhi

March 14 2006 was a great day for the University of Western Ontario. On this date, the WSSA held their annual Sikh Awareness Day (SAD). Although the initials for this day are an emotion that we prefer not to associate ourselves with, Sikh Awareness Day was anything but that.

The day began around 11:00 am. Vast arrays of posters which WSSA members had worked very hard on and put a noble effort into were on display throughout the atrium of the University Community Center. They consisted of a range of topics from something as simple as the history of the 10 Gurus to the haunting events that took place in 1984. Like the cherry on top of a sundae, kesri and royal blue coloured balloons further adorned each of the exhibits which would make an individual not help but come and visit.

Along with the WSSA exec, there were a number of individuals who had volunteered to answer any inquiries of the passers by. Raviraj was the first to answer the questions of inquiring minds. There was no doubt that he had made the individuals belonging to the Christian faith feel quite comfortable as they had been discussing faiths for quite some time and came out with exchanging e-mails. The ball got rolling after this point and as the day progressed, so did the number of individuals who wanted insight into our beautiful faith.

Then came the second highlight of this day. The arrival of the Sahibzadas belonging to the Baba Deep Singh Gatka Akhaara. They would be displaying the Warrior aspect in Sikhi with a display of Gatka- a distinguished and valiant Sikh martial art used from the time of our Gurus. These innocent souls’ abilities would be further tested by the blistering cold- an unexpected opponent since the day before it had seemed as if spring had knocked on our doorstep and decided to settle. Nonetheless, this was all our Waheguru’s hukum and something as petty as cold weather would not be an issue for the little Singhs. As the demonstration began, they showed the courage of lions battling it out in only their cholay and kacheras. The upbeat music and jaikaras were able to attract a humble crowd in awe of this display of courage by mere children. Near the end of the demonstration, another obstacle was faced by one of these warriors since the apparatus that he was using seemed to get caught in the wind. However, that was not an obstacle for long-our very own Amarjot Singh was able to save the day by modestly taking the apparatus and making its usage seem effortless while disappointing the wind’s alleged victory and leaving those of us who thought we knew him in awe.

Following this demonstration, the day continued with visitors belonging to all faiths come by giving WSSA members the opportunity to discuss faith. Not to mention, they were able to have individuals belonging to SSAs of other universities come by and share this experience.

Another notable visitor who showed a great amount of interest in the Sikh faith was an individual who went by the name of Matthew. He compared notes with several members and mentioned that the Rastafarian and Sikh religion share many similar viewpoints. The level of admiration that he showed for Sikhism gave members yet another reason to be proud to belong to this faith and was a reminder to us that we have a lot more in common with one another than we think…

It was then time to put the displays away as the second part of this experience would begin following a short break. Parents joined the WSSA on this evening- (a sincere thanks goes out to all of those who came by the way :D). The movie did not deal with the spiritual aspects of Sikhi, but without a doubt touched on the sensitive cultural issues Sikhs and other minorities deal with on a daily basis in western society. The moving established basic platform for discussion on which Sikhs and Non-Sikhs could engage in as it transcended any racial, gender or religious boundaries.

The WSSA had the pleasure of being joined by a guest speaker- former boxer and active member of the community, Pardeep Nagra. He was among the few Sikh speakers who were able to maintain the attention of the youth since he himself was a youth not too long ago and more importantly since he discussed issues that have a significant affect upon young adults belonging to all minority groups. One interesting point that he brought up was how Sikhs are still not completely accepted into society. We are constantly asked where we are from- not meaning what city in Canada- but meaning what country in the world we are from since we do not appear to fit the typical Canadian prototype. He gave us pointers on how to present ourselves in the society of today.

For those of you who were not able to be part of Sikh Awareness Day, hopefully this will give you somewhat of a picture as to what went on.

Lastly, the WSSA would like to express gratitude to all those Sikhs non-sikhs and MSA for coming out and expressing interest. A warm, whole-hearted thank you is the least that can go out to the WSSA exec and all of those who were part of the preparations to make this day a success. Needless to say, your hard work and long nights sacrificed towards this cause have clearly paid off.

Evidently, with Guru’s Kirpa, the exec continues to do a remarkable job to spread the word about Sikhi and give the Sikh Community a reason to be filled with pride. It is hoped that events like this can continue to flourish in the years to come.

Here are comments on what some individuals thought of Sikh Awareness Day:

Ameena Saeed
Visual Arts/French I
As a Hijabi Muslim student, I thought it would be really beneficial to show my support at the Sikh Awareness Day. I was pleasantly surprised to see how many similarities there are with Sikhism and Islam. As well, the movie & lecture opened my eyes to see how universal racism is, whether Sikh or Muslim. In the future, I hope to see some Sikh-Muslim events.

Umair Malik
Political Science I
The Sikh Awareness Day was to me a tremendous success, as a Muslim guest, I could easily follow the discussion on racism as it happens to everyone. The movie taught a very good lesson, that if the pleasures of life are taken away from humans, they too begin to act like animals. The survival of the fittest. Pardeep Singh Nagra was a great host, he did an excellent job of making the audience of different religions and backgrounds understand racism in more depth and how to tackle it efficiently.

Ruth Beyene
Sociology Major II
The Sikh awareness day was a great event, although I was unable to attend the movie, I had the chance to see the martial arts demo. The group is extremely talented putting on a great performance and did not let the weather slow them down! I would love to see them perform at Western again.

Chardi Kalaa will be showing clips from this day in early April. Keep checking the blog for more details!!


Anonymous said...

where can i see more pics of this great event

WesternSSA said...

Please visit then proceed to the picture gallery

Anonymous said...

what type of sickness are you guys trying to make people aware of?

Anonymous said...

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