San Joaquin Sikhs

The August 2012 murders of 6 Sikh (pronounced “sik”) worshipers at the hands of white supremacist, Wade Page, in Wisconsin was the result of the actions of an evil man holding an evil ideology and should be condemned in the strongest terms. Perhaps, through this act of terror a little good can occur if non-Sikh’s can learn more about who the Sikh’s really are.  Most Americans are unaware that the Sikh community despite their small number has contributed their blood and treasure to the cause of freedom around the world.  For example, more than 83,000 Sikh’s gave their lives fighting with the Allies in World War 1 and 2.

Understanding Sikhism is important because Mountain House is home to a large community of Sikhs.  They are our neighbors, friends, the folks who drive our trucks, the professionals who care for our medical and dental needs, the engineers commuting to the Silicon Valley, and they own huge agriculture businesses, restaurants and mini-markets.

The Punjab region of India and Pakistan is the traditional homeland of the Sikhs.  Just as the San Joaquin Valley contains some of richest farm land in all of America, Punjab is considered to be the bread basket of India.  It was only natural that as Sikhs began immigrating from India more than 100 years ago to settle in the San Joaquin Valley first to work as laborers that they would eventually end up as major landowners.  Today, some of the largest farms up and down the San Joaquin valley are owned by the descendant’s of these Punjabi Sikh’s.

California has the deepest connection with the Sikh community as compared to any other state.  In fact, the very first Sikh temple or “Gurdwara” was built  in Stockton, California.  The Gurdwara centennial anniversary is next month.  Yuba City, California only ninety minutes drive north of Mountain House, has the greatest concentration of Sikh’s in America and holds a huge annual Sikh festival.

Some male Sikh’s can be easily identified through the wearing of their traditional turbans and beards.  Many dress in a western style.  Western Christians are often surprised to learn that Sikhism is a monotheistic (the belief in only one God) religion.  The word Sikh comes from an old Sanskrit term meaning student.  Sikh’s beliefs have some similarities with Christian beliefs. For example, the opening hymn of the first Guru explains the Sikh belief in God.

There is one supreme eternal reality; the truth; imminent in all things; creator of all things; imminent in creation. Without fear and without hatred; not subject to time; beyond birth and death; self-revealing. Known by the Guru’s grace.

Now compare the Sikh’s view of God with the Christians view of God with Biblical references provided.

  • “There is one supreme eternal reality” — Mark 12:29 “The Lord our God is one Lord”
  • “the truth” — John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth, and the life”
  • “creator of all things”  — Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created”, also John 1:3 and Colossians 1:16
  • “not subject to time” — 2 Peter 2:8 “that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
  • “beyond birth and death” — Colossians 1:15 “Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:”
  • “self-revealing” — Romans 1:17 “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”

On the day-to-day level Sikhs are called to believe in the equality of all people, tell the truth, administer  justice, fight for freedom, and follow the concept of Karma.  Their Gurdwaras are not only houses of worship but double as a place of refuge for the hungry and poor.

For 500 years as a religious and ethnic minority the Sikh’s have been the target of extreme ethnic cleansing campaigns and other forms of discrimination.  As a result the Sikh “Diaspora” are now scattered all over the world as the community sought refuge.  Sikh’s came to California in a number of immigration waves.  For example, Ricky Gill, our Republican congressional candidate, is a Sikh whose father came to America after Sikh’s were kicked out of Uganda by the brutal dictator General Idi Amin back in August of 1972.  General Amin kicked out over 90,000 Indians despite the community have roots in the country for more than 100 years.  In retrospec, that expulsion may have been a blessing in disguise because the evil General then went on to execute 300,000 Ugandans.

John McDonald of Mountain House

 

The closest Gurdwara to Mountain House is:

Gurdwara Guru Nanak Prakash Tracy 16101 West Grant Line Road, Tracy, CA Phone (209) 836-0971 / 836-3092 Established In 1996.

More information about the Sikhs is available at

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sikh
http://www.sikhnet.com/
http://www.sikhs.org/topics.htm

One Response to San Joaquin Sikhs

  1. Understanding Sikhs | Mountain House Reporter on August 10, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    […] San Joaquin Sikh’s […]

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