On Saturday, December 26, 2015, two white men in their 20s intentionally backed into a man with their truck in Fresno, California, before beating him so badly that they broke his collar bone. The victim, 68-year-old Amrik Singh, was wearing a blue turban, and may have been victim of an Islamophobic hate crime – one problem though; the 20 something year old dipshits didn’t realize, Singh is not Muslim. He is Sikh.
A Sikh is a follower of Sikhism, a monotheistic religion which originated during the 15th century in the Punjab region of the Indian subcontinent. The term “Sikh” has its origin in the Sanskrit words – disciple or student.
Male Sikhs have “Singh” (Lion), and female Sikhs have “Kaur” (princess) as their middle or last name. Sikhs who have undergone the initiation ceremony) may also be recognized by the five K’s: Kesh, kara, kirpan, kachehra, and kanga.
The five Ks (panj kakaar) are five articles of faith which all baptized Sikhs (Amritdhari Sikhs) are obliged to wear. The symbols represent the ideals of Sikhism: honesty, equality, fidelity, meditating on God and never bowing to tyranny. The five symbols are:
Kesh: Uncut hair, usually tied and wrapped in a Dastar
Kanga: A wooden comb, usually worn under a Dastar
Kachera: Cotton undergarments, historically appropriate in battle due to increased mobility when compared to a dhoti. Worn by both sexes, the kachera is a symbol of chastity.
Kara: An iron bracelet, a weapon and a symbol of eternity
Kirpan: An iron dagger or sword in different sizes.
Some of the most important concepts and beliefs of Sikhism are:
Concept of doing honest labor with sweat on brow
Concept of Daswandh (Giving one-tenth of the earnings and contribution towards charity)
Concept of selfless Seva (Selfless Service)
Concept of Sarbat Da Bhala (Well-being of all)
Concept of democracy
Concept of liberty, equality and fraternity
Concept of sacrifice
Concept of universal brotherhood, peace and prosperity
Concept of healthy mind in a healthy body
Concept of equality of woman
Concept of immortality of soul
Concept of Karma (Actions and deeds)
By virtue of their religion, Sikhs are natural warriors and have a strong moral compass. Sikhs live according to the following values:
1. The Sikhs to worship one God and read Nitname (Five Banis) and daily meditate on the Name.
2. He is to keep the symbols (Panj Kakar) and to lead his life according to the Guru’s teaching.
3. He has no caste after joining the brother-hood; he has to repudiate non-Sikh rites and ceremonies, and follow only Sikh practices.
4. He is not to commit ‘any of the four misdeeds (Kurahat) namely, the shaving or cutting of hair, eating Halal meat, adultery and the use of tobacco or any other intoxicant.
5. He is not to commit any of the social offenses (Tankhah), such as giving dowry, using liquors and intoxicants, raising monuments over graves and associating with apostates.
6. He must contribute one-tenth of his income for religious purposes.
7. He is to serve the fellowship or brotherhood in all ways
8. He must practice arms and be ready defend the weak.
The Sikh initiation ceremony is an elaborate one. Five Sikhs, those who have already undergone initiation recite prayers and stir a double-edged sword in a bowl of sugar water called Amrit (nectar). After the recitation of prayers ends, those Sikhs who seek to undergo initiationn drink out of the same bowl. Expected to have an understanding of the responsibilities of being a Sikh, the initiated ones promise to live a life of purity, in accordance with the teachings of the Gurus. The Khalsa are widely regarded as saint-soldiers; not only have they vowed to live by the principles of Sikhism, the Khalsa historically stands ready to defend the defenseless, and themselves, with the use of force if necessary.
Excerpts from a collection of Guardian reportage from the first world war report that one night, a Sikh regiment had to recapture a trench, which the Germans had taken by surprise, and that their bayonet charge was so tremendous that the enemy did not dare counter-attack. Almost immediately after that feat an order came not to allow the Indians uselessly to expose their lives by walking out of the trenches. The fact was that, in order to show their contempt for death, some Sikhs had refused to hide themselves in the trenches and had immediately drawn a fierce fire on their regiment.
During the same battle, a mortar fell quite near a Sikh while he was lying on the ground and steadily firing on the advancing foe. It did not hurt him, but dug a hole six feet deep at his side. The Sikh waited until the smoke had gone, and then jumped into the hole. He soon found that the position was a comfortable one, and started firing from the cover the Germans had dug for him; according to officers who were standing by, he managed to kill some fifteen or twenty Germans by himself, and would have remained there forever if he had not been eventually ordered to retreat. He was warmly congratulated afterwards, but did not appear to think he had done anything remarkable.
Sikhs and more specifically, Sikh men possess some of the strongest values and morals in the world. American men used to hold these same values in the highest regard. Men in this country used to strive to live the type of measured and selfless life that Sikh men have mastered. I would be more than happy to have one of these warriors fight beside me, and so should you.
Sikhs supported the British during the Indian Rebellion of 1857. By the beginning of World War I, Sikhs in the British Indian Army totaled over 100,000 (20 percent of the force). Until 1945 fourteen Victoria Crosses (VC) were awarded to Sikhs, a per-capita regimental record. In 2002 the names of all Sikh VC and George Cross recipients were inscribed on the monument of the Memorial Gates on Constitution Hill, next to Buckingham Palace.
During World War I, Sikh battalions fought in Egypt, Palestine, Mesopotamia, Gallipoli and France. Six battalions of the Sikh Regiment were raised during World War II, serving in the Second Battle of El Alamein, the Burma and Italian campaigns and in Iraq and receiving 27 battle honors.