On Sunday, Lee Memorial United Methodist Church in Norway organized an event to share a meal and gain a cultural understanding of Sikhism.
According to the NorwichBulletin report, the event was organized as part of the Greater Norwich Community Meal Program that offers free meals every Sunday at the Washington Street church.
The event was a bit different this time. On July 22, the event was run through the Sikh Community of Connecticut and a human rights organization called United Sikhs, which aims to educate communities and spread messages of love and respect.
According to the report, the director of United Sikhs Swaranjit Singh Khalsa said “We are just trying to create a general awareness among our fellow Americans and our neighbors that we are Sikhs, and explain parts of our culture, such as what our turbans mean. Before we began serving food, I gave a short presentation about who Sikhs are. This is a great teaching opportunity.”
For members of the Sikh community, the turban is also known as ‘Dastaar’, which is an article of faith and represents, honor, courage, self-respect, spirituality, and piety. Even among Sikhs, there are many misunderstanding of what the turban means to the community, he said.
“Our values are not much different than those in the U.S. Constitution,” Singh Khalsa said. “Equal rights, freedom of religion, our gurus talked of these things in the 15th century.”
With misunderstandings about this religion, it becomes difficult for the people of this community to live as a free citizen in the US. He explained that within America too, Sikhs are trying to build relationships and help people understand their customs and beliefs. “There is a big problem with misunderstandings about this religion.”
In America, Sikhs are not just taxi drivers, they commonly serve in the US military as well. Also, the Defense Minister of Canada is a Sikh.
For the event, there was an arrangement of authentic Punjabi food, which was provided by Royal Punjabi, a restaurant in downtown Norwich. Punjabi cuisine is often labeled simply as ‘Indian food.’ “Most times when you see Indian food in America, you are eating Punjabi food. It’s the food of northern India,” he said.
‘Fear of the unknown is the greatest fear,” he said. “Things are getting better, people are more familiar,” he added.