Check out the first in a series that explores different faith communities here in Southeast Michigan, where viewers get to learn through the eyes of students. It’s part of the Interfaith Leadership Council of Metro Detroit’s program called ‘Religious Diversity Journeys’. In this video, we join local student, Kennedy, as she takes a tour of Sikh Gurdwara of Rochester Hills to learn more about Sikhism, a religion that preaches love, peace, and the equality of humankind.
This project is funded in part by Michigan Humanities, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
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Wendy Miller Gamer, Program Director, Religious Diversity Journeys We’re at the Sikh Gurdwara of Rochester Hills. This community is one of Religious Diversity Journeys faith community partners. My name is Wendy Miller Gamer. I am the director of Religious Diversity Journeys. With over 20 million members throughout the world, Sikhism is actually the world’s fifth largest religion. Here in Michigan, the Sikh community continues to grow and thrive. There’s about a dozen gurdwaras serving hundreds of families throughout the state. Today, Kennedy, a seventh grader at East Middle School, is going to get to explore the Sikh faith by asking questions of her peers who she’s going to meet soon and some of the adults in the community.
Mandeep Singh, Member, Sikh Gurdwara Hi Kennedy, how are you today? We’re so excited to have you here at the Sikh Gurdwara, are you excited?
Kennedy, Interviewer Yeah!
Mandeep Singh, Member, Sikh Gurdwara Yeah! Before we start, we’re going to just walk over, take our shoes off and cover our heads. Sound good?
Kennedy, Interviewer Yeah!
Mandeep Singh, Member, Sikh Gurdwara All right, let’s go over this way.
Sangeeta Kaur, Member, Sikh Gurdwara For a Sikh, the key goal of life is to make and understand this idea that the divine force is within everything and within ourselves and to reconnect with that divine force. And to do that, a Sikh uses the guru and the guru for us is a sacred text. Guru actually literally means brings light to darkness and the sacred text contains teachings that describe how Sikh should live their life and how one should make these connections to the divine. This idea of the divine force being within everything and there only being one, as well as using the guru to help us connect with this one. These kind of make up the central tenets or beliefs of the Sikh way of life.
Kennedy, Interviewer Why do you think it is important for everyone, even non-Sikhs to learn about these beliefs?
Bismaad Kaur, Member, Sikh Gurdwara Since Sikhism is really based off of a platform of good things like being kind, being respectful, doing service, being compassionate. These are just things that basically anybody can learn, anybody can do, and we think that would really help build a better society.
Sangeeta Kaur, Member, Sikh Gurdwara The way we focus on things like love and compassion and respect and kindness and service, it just makes our whole world better.
Damanpreet Singh, Member, Sikh Gurdwara There are many reasons that Sikhs wear their turban. The main reasons are, number one, it shows, it shows respect to why Guruji and it shows respect to other people. The second reason is that it shows a sense of royalty, since we think the turban is a crown and last but not least, the third reason is that our tenth Guru, Gobind Singh, he did not want the Sikh to hide in the shadows. He wanted us to be unique and stand out.
Mandeep Singh, Member, Sikh Gurdwara For me it’s something that’s very personal. I remember my history, I remember like those giants that shoulders that I stand on, those that came before me, that stood for certain values. And those values I’m reminded of every time I tie every single layer of my turban.
Kennedy, Interviewer Do you always wear a turban, or do you take it off at home?
Mandeep Singh, Member, Sikh Gurdwara I wear it all the time, when I’m in the shower, when I’m sleeping, you know everyone has their own style and flair.
Kennedy, Interviewer Thank you, those are all the questions I had.
Mandeep Singh, Member, Sikh Gurdwara Awesome, thank you.
Inderpal Singh, Member, Sikh Gurdwara So seva literally translates to selfless service. You do it because you genuinely believe in the importance of humanity and sharing with others.
Kennedy, Interviewer What are some seva activities you do with your family?
Harsimran Kaur, Member, Sikh Gurdwara So the awesome thing about seva is it can be done anywhere at any time. So, something that I do with my family and with the gurdwara as well as we do the seva food truck. Which we make home cooked meals, and we deliver them to the homeless.
Inderpal Singh, Member, Sikh Gurdwara Seva truly is being selfless and realizing that we’re all in this together.
Kennedy, Interviewer Can you tell me a little bit about this space?
Jaspal Kaur & Suhavi Kaur, Member, Sikh Gurdwara So this is called our gurdwara, which literally means the door to our guru. Our guru concept is a central focus of any gurdwara, and we have it a little bit higher as a form of respect. And then we have the congregation sitting on both sides.
Kennedy, Interviewer What does it look like to pray?
Jaspal Kaur & Suhavi Kaur, Member, Sikh Gurdwara Basically when we’re praying, we always have our heads covered and we’re always sitting cross-legged like this, we’re all sitting together on the ground as equals. We don’t think that you can only pray being in one certain place, there’s no restrictions really.
Kennedy, Interviewer How does worship make you feel?
Jaspal Kaur & Suhavi Kaur, Member, Sikh Gurdwara For me personally, it makes me feel kind of centered and it keeps my mind calm and at peace.
Jaspal Kaur & Suhavi Kaur, Member, Sikh Gurdwara Whenever I’m going through like a challenging time in my life, when I’m worshiping, when I’m praying, I feel I do get a lot of guidance from the group on service as well.
Kennedy, Interviewer Thank you guys so much for answering my questions. This is a really special thing you do, so thank you.
Kennedy, Interviewer Thank you so much, I had so much fun and learned a lot of things.
Members, Sikh Gurdwara No problem.
Kennedy & Memebers, Sikh Gurdwara Bye!