iNDICA NEWS BUREAU-
California will celebrate the Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month (SAAM) in November. Earlier this year, California Assembly Member Ash Kalra introduced a proclamation in the California State Assembly which marks a statewide recognition and celebration of SAAM next month.
Earlier Sikh Sangats throughout California observed SAAM by organizing seva projects, distributing Sikh awareness resources, sharing educational and anti-bullying resources in schools, and facilitating conversations with non-Sikh community leaders.
Each November, the Sikh Coalition urges Californians to engage in Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month. “Through the leadership of California Assembly Member Ash Kalra, the California legislature has once again designated November as Sikh American Awareness and Appreciation Month. The Sikh Coalition, in collaboration with the California Sikh community, has worked to create a list of projects that you can lead to celebrate Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month,” the Sikh Coalition said.
“The Sikh Coalition is excited to join the California sangat in celebrating the contributions and accomplishments of Sikhs across the state as we work together to raise Sikh awareness. Additionally, we remain deeply involved in advocacy, legal, and education initiatives in the state that is home to roughly half of U.S.-based Sikhs.”
The Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. 100—Relative to California’s Sikh American Awareness and Appreciation Month states: “This measure would designate the month of November 2023 to be California’s Sikh American Awareness and Appreciation Month. The measure would recognize and acknowledge the significant contributions made by Californians of Sikh heritage to our state and would seek to afford all Californians the opportunity to better understand, recognize, and appreciate the rich history and shared principles of Sikh Americans. The measure would condemn all hate crimes and bias incidents against Sikh Americans and would encourage all Sikhs to practice their faith freely and fearlessly.”
“California and our nation are at once blessed and enriched by the unparalleled diversity of our residents,” the resolution adds. Sikhs, who originated in the Punjab region of South Asia, first entered California in 1899 through the Angel Island Immigration Station in San Francisco, California. Sikh pioneers initially worked on railroad construction projects and in lumber mills. By 1910, these pioneers turned to farming in the Sacramento, San Joaquin, and Imperial Valleys.
Detailing the journey of Sikhs in the US the resolution highlights several landmarks. On October 14, 1912, the first gurdwara in the US, the Stockton Sikh Temple, was founded by Jawala Singh and Wasakha Singh. The following year, the congregation formed the Pacific Coast Khalsa Diwan Society. “There are now more than 300 known gurdwaras in the US, 58 of which are in California, including the Gurdwara Sahib of San Jose, the largest gurdwara in North America.”
The Stockton Record, dated November 22, 1915, quoted the gurdwara’s elected leadership declaring, “We do not permit our people to become charges on public charity. If a man is hungry and out of funds, we feed him. Our dining room is open at all hours of the day and is closed only for a few hours during the night.”
“Sikhs have served in all American wars since World War I, including Bhagat Singh Thind, a Sikh born in Punjab, India, who was a United States veteran of World War I and an Indian independence activist whose quest for naturalization has been a key part of the long struggle to remove racial barriers to United States citizenship by fighting his citizenship case in the United States Supreme Court in 1923. Narinder Singh Kapany of Palo Alto, a Sikh born in Punjab, India, is an accomplished scientist and inventor who has been awarded over 100 patents that spurred advances in lasers, biomedical instrumentation, pollution monitoring, and solar energy, and is widely acknowledged to be the father of fiber optics, a technology that has allowed for high-speed digital communication,” the resolution adds.
Yuba City in California referred to as “Mini-Punjab” because of its 10 percent Punjabi population, commemorates the inauguration of the holy Sikh scripture, Sri Guru Granth Sahib, on the first Sunday of November, and this international event has in recent years attracted up to 100,000 participants from all over the United States, Canada, and across the globe. “Sikh Americans throughout California celebrate the coronation of Sikh scripture and other Sikh festivals at the gurdwaras and through parades in cities across California and the United States,” the resolution states.
Since the FBI first began tracking anti-Sikh hate crimes in 2015, Sikhs have been among the top five most targeted faith groups, and research conducted by the Sikh community shows that Sikh students, particularly those who carry the identity, experience bullying at rates twice the national average.
“The faithful service of the Sikh American community to this state and country merits appreciation as an integral thread in the fabric of American plurality. The Legislature hereby designates the month of November 2023 to be California’s Sikh American Awareness and Appreciation Month. The Legislature recognizes and acknowledges the significant contributions made by Californians of Sikh heritage to our state, and by the adoption of this resolution, seeks to afford all Californians the opportunity to better understand, recognize, and appreciate the rich history, military service, and shared principles of Sikh Americans. The Legislature condemns all hate crimes and bias incidents against Sikh Americans and encourages all Sikhs to practice their faith freely and fearlessly,” the resolution states.