Club raises Sikh awareness

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turban tying
SSA members tying turban on Khalil Smith, Senior. Photo taken by Gurprit Kaur.

On May 1, the newly formed Sikh Student Association (SSA) held Sikhism Awareness Day in room 512. In order to establish a sense of unity amongst the Townsend Harris community and bring more awareness to the religion, club members tied turbans (a head covering worn to preserve the Sikh identity) and viewed a brief presentation about the religion itself. Sikh and non-Sikh students alike participated in the turban tying.

Sikhism, a monotheistic religion founded in Punjab, India over 500 years ago, has more than 27 million followers today. However, according to Gurprit Kaur, senior and founder of the SSA, “many people are still misinformed or completely unaware of this religion.”

SSA seeks to raise awareness and dismiss any misconceptions about Sikhs, who make up a greater part of the student body in Townsend Harris than in most other high schools.

“I’ve done research on Sikhism as a religion and I loved that the values shared by the Sikhs are very similar to mine,” said Khalil Smith, a senior who participated in the turban tying.

“My brothers [Sikh club members] welcomed me with open arms and warm arms. I love their culture.”

One of the many pillars of Sikhism is seva, the belief that one can serve God by helping others on a daily basis. By devoting their time to service, Sikhs rid themselves of egotism and pride.

A goal of SSA is to highlight the value of selfless service by holding community service events and working hand in hand with the SEVA NYC organization.

The nonprofit recently held their annual Sikh Day parade on April 27, where SSA members volunteered. Parade volunteers helped by setting up chairs, picking up garbage from the ground, and collecting cans from people to recycle.

Dilpreet Singh, freshman, commented that while it was tiring to wake up in the morning, the parade taught him that “helping society in the smallest possible ways is amazing.”

Talwinder Singh and Arminder Singh, juniors, agreed, adding that “being immersed in [their] culture really made their service worthwhile.”

The club hopes to host more events and attract more members next year, but is content with their progress so far.

“Starting the Sikh Student Association and being a part of the Sikh Day Parade was a step towards educating people about the Sikh religion and building awareness,” said Gurprit.