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Sikh Tempe Holding Open House To Raise Awareness About Religion

There are a lot of things the general public doesn’t know about the Sikhs. Like, for instance, they are the fifth-largest religion in world, bigger than Judaism, and about 4,000 to 5,000 Sikhs live here in the Valley. And, also kind of important, how they pronounce their name.

Now, Anjleen Kaur Gumer says the National Sikh TV Campaign, called “We are Sikh,” which we’ll talk about in a second, actually pronounces it Seek, so it really can go either way.

Now that we’ve got that cleared up, what does the Sikh religion believe?

Sikhism is a modern religion, only 500 years old, and it originated in India, where the Hindus had a very strict caste system — your lot in life was cast the minute you were born, never to change. The Sikhs really turned that idea upside down.

There is a little irony in her statement about religious tolerance since the Sikhs have been the target of hate crimes — many times because they have been mistaken for Muslim, another religion we know has seen a dramatic increase in assaults, attacks, vandalism and discrimination since 9/11.

Gumer also says one of the main tenets of Sikhism is about selfless service, something they call Seva.

And as part of this spirit of service, as well as creating an opportunity to raise awareness about the religion, her congregation is hosting an open house this Sunday at their temple, called a Gurdwara, in Glendale.

Now, if you drive on the 101 often, you will have seen Nishkam Seva Gurdwara right off of 51st Avenue. And I wondered what it would look and feel like for visitors this Sunday, but Gumer said, actually, the first thing that will hit the guests will be delicious smells.

Finally, we talked about when the Sikhs might see a tipping point in public opinion about her religion — when will Americans start to understand who they are and what they believe?

The Sikh open house is from noon to 2 p.m. on Sunday, and everyone is welcome. And, by the way, Gumer did say that while many of us wear dresses or skirts for our Sunday best, since you’ll be sitting on the ground, she recommends pants.  

Lauren Gilger, host of KJZZ's The Show, is an award-winning journalist whose work has impacted communities large and small, exposing injustices and giving a voice to the voiceless and marginalized.