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Sikh Students Association Hosts events for Sikh Awareness Week

By Nazeefa Ahmed, March 19 2024—

From Mar. 18 to Mar. 22, the Sikh Students’ Association (SSA) is hosting a variety of events for Sikh Awareness Week. Mar. 18 began with Langar Day where the U of C community was served roti (flatbread), shahi paneer, rice and kheer. 

Langar is defined as a community kitchen in a gurdwara — a place of worship for Sikhs — where all are served equally regardless of their caste. In the same way, the SSA aimed to provide free food to the student community to encourage conversation about the Sikh religion and its equity-based principles. 

In an interview with the Gauntlet, SSA Vice President Livtar Singh described how the SSA has grown over the years through hosting Sikh Awareness Week. The SSA has been a club at the U of C since the late 1990s and Singh states that 

“Sikh Awareness Week has always been one of the biggest events, if not the biggest event that we run, and we know that based off of our turnout. It’s one of the biggest events at the University as well, so we’re super proud just to share some love. We’re super proud to share the message of our club alongside all the other campus students and faculty,” said Singh. 

Singh encourages students who may not be familiar with the Sikh religion to approach members of the club during the week to ask questions. He provides a summary of the Sikh religion and its principles rooted in devotion to one’s path. 

“The entirety of the base of our religion relies on oneness,” said Singh. “There’s no concept of us having a path that’s necessarily right or wrong. We think that every path, when followed with devotion, when followed with love will lead to the same destination and our goal is to help each other. Whether you’re on a path that’s different from mine to achieve what you first yourself to achieve the best that you can in your life and in your journey as Sikh. We hope to empower the other students on campus to be able to do that.” 

On Mar. 19 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the SSA will host a turban day at MacEwan Hall. In the Sikh faith, a turban is known as a dastaar which, according to Singh, is how Sikhs proudly represent their identity. 

“We hope that from our religion once again, by just spreading love and spreading more awareness of our identity, of our principles, we’re also able to get people to understand what it’s like to be in the shoes of a minority, of a visible minority at that. What it feels like to have something on your head, what it feels like to have something in your identity that separates you from the people around you,” said Singh. 

The final event is a Care Package Seva held on Mar. 21 and 22, where community members will assemble care packages and distribute them in Memorial Park. Singh describes how the religion prioritizes service, through the concept of seva. 

“A core principle of Sakhi is Seva and Seva is selfless service. So we recognize and appreciate what it means to be a society that depends on the goodness of people and the goodness of people to donate money [or] time,” said Singh. 

“This event was being able to rely on the kindness of our community and rely on the kindness of other strangers and other people at university that are able to contribute [their] efforts towards getting some stuff together for the less fortunate, and then being able to distribute that out on the day after, in downtown.”

More information about the SSA can be found on their Instagram.

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