“It’s quite unfortunate that right after 9/11, Bin Laden and his associates had turbans and flowing beards. They almost looked like Sikhs and in fact are different people. The Sikhs are against any terrorism,” Ranjit Singh Rajpal, M.D. said.
Members say raising awareness of the Sikh culture is especially important among children because children are often teased and bullied in schools.
Sikh children had issues with being bullied even before 9/11, but that tragedy made it all the worse. As a result, there is an increasing effort and constant focus by Sikh organizations to find better ways educate communities about who we are.
This weekend, I was also contemplating this question, but in a different context. I was visiting a friend (a non-Sikh family) last evening and one of my friend’s daughters, about five years old, sat next to me, smiled and pointed to my turban.
“Why do you wear that thing on your head?”
I’m not offended by her question, of course. In fact, I’m glad she asks. However, I’m disappointed because she has asked me this question before. Obviously, I haven’t been able to give her a good answer; the failure is mine. And, like before, I found myself struggling to come up with the best way to explain my turban, religion and origin. I want to explain it fully to her, but in terms she can understand. It’s something I’ll need to be ready for on my next visit.
Educating others is not just a community activity, but for every Sikh, it is a personal one as well.