Clockwise, from top: Prayer service at the Pentagon on April 25, 2014, Vishavjit Singh, Waris Ahluwahlia, Balpreet Kaur, Prabhjot Singh.
Sikh culture is currently enjoying greater coverage and understanding within America, and there is now much better recognition that Sikh Americans are just as much a part of the country as anyone else.
Two main events have heralded this welcome attitude: the Pentagon celebrated its first ever Sikh prayer service, and eight Sikh Americans have been heralded as people to admire by the Huffington Post.
The prayer service at the Pentagon occurred on April 25 this year, and was hosted by the Pentagon Chaplain. There has been a push for more multi-faith religious services throughout the government, as well as in offices and in schools, and this event spearheaded that campaign. It proved that inter-faith recognition and dialogue is possible without insult or disrespect. The program for the Sikh prayer service at Pentagon was organized by Major Kalsi, Captain Rattan, and Corporal Lamba, as well as the Sikh Coalition. This group supports turbaned Sikhs and other people that have a faith to be allowed to serve in the American military. The Sikh prayer meeting was hailed as a success.
When looking at the eight Sikhs highlighted by Huffington Post, you could be forgiven for being surprised that they have not been internationally recognized before now. From the survivors of hate crimes such as Prabhjot Singh who now works to create better understanding between Sikhs and non-Sikhs, to Waris Ahluwahlia the jewelery designer that stunned the world when he was featured in a popular Gap campaign, every single one of these people has directly contributed to better understanding and acceptance of Sikh faith and culture within the wider world.
Sometimes it is the smaller things that make us smile the most. Vishavjit Singh made the world chuckle by dressing up as Captain America and roamed the streets of New York, challenging people’s assumptions of what makes an American. Or it is someone reacting with tolerance against faceless attacks, such as Balpreet Kaur, a Sikh woman with facial hair that refused to conform to more typical standards of beauty.
It is hoped that these outreaches between Sikh and non-Sikh people will continue, furthering greater acceptance and friendship.