kenya, sikhs

sikhing to learn


this morning, a gurudwara in nairobi invited students of arya high school as part of their school curriculum to do a field trip and learn about the sikh faith. these students are studying the sikh faith as part of an examinable gcse exam. we were approached by the gurudwara to assist in making a presentation to the students and since i have conducted past tours as well, i was ever ready to grab the opportunity to play a little role in presenting our faith to the students.

about 100 students, most of them hindus and a few sikhs and christians were taken through an interactive talk, questions and answers and in the end, a quiz to test their general knowledge on the sikh faith. i usually do not have any idea how to go about these presntations, but i believe that if you are representing your guru, he leads you through and you don’t even feel it.

i was particularly surprised about the way the presentation went because in the end, the students felt charged up, the teachers were impressed and it turned out to be a successful one. while keeping the focus on the sikh faith, i added in alot of inter-faith elements, to encourage the students to feel proud of their faiths and not to give them the impression that ‘singh is king’ – everyone was special and that was supported by the sikh beliefs and practices.

as they were being introduced to kirtan, i invited them to exhibit their knowledge of the musical instruments. one hindu student played the tune of a hindu bhajan to show everyone how the harmonium. two others also played the tabla for the others.

one particular incident that caught everyone by surprise was when the sikh students were asked to explain the meaning and significance of the kesh. one turbaned sikh, however, said he only wore the turban but had cut his kesh. calling him forward, i ecnouraged him to tell everyone the reason behind this and explained that he had no particular reason. he then said that he would keep his kesh back again after having learned that the sikh and his/her kesh are an integral part of their faith.

one singh also did not know the meaning of ‘kaur’ and he was lovingly taken to task. i asked him if he had a sister and he replied in the affirmative. i then told him to treat his sister like a princess because thatis what a ‘kaur’ is.

as much as these kind of interactive learning seasons are eye-openers for the non-sikhs, i have realised that such one-to-one talks are much needed with our own, too, because they are losing out to liberal parents and inappropriate examples within the community.

overall, the teachers were happy and the students left better informed and more aware about the sikh next door.



One thought on “sikhing to learn

  1. Dickie Rehal says:

    Inspiring read. I am equally a believer in the pursuit of education as a vehcile to instil racial and religous torelance among the young aged.The GCSE curriculum may have provided for this neccessity, but what about the KCSE/KCPE majority students in the coutry. Who catrs for their lack of knowldege? While working at the Kenya Methodist University (me being the only Sikh and non indegenous African staff member) it was alarming to know that a certain lecturer in the Theology department, who coordinated a course on world religion, had no idea that there was a Sikh and Hindu temple in the area. And lest, these institutions were ready to accommodate thos ein pursuit of knowledge. At this level, I faciliated two trips to the local Sikh temple on two Vaisakhi occassions. I believe they still do get invited (theology students and staff). But if senior lecturers have no idea, what about the rest in colleges, high and primary school? REading your piece was indeed great, now there is a need fo a curriculum in Kenya on multiculturalism and racial tolerance.

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