Sikh temple participates in 'Food for Homeless' drive

On Saturday, at the Lawrence Gurudwara Sikh temple on Bakers Basin Road, nearly 100 volunteers turned out to put together 6,000 food packages assembly-line style as part of the British Columbia-based Sikhcess’ “Feed the Homeless Campaign.”

Those food packages were then brought to New York, where an additional 4,000 were made and distributed throughout the city and in New Jersey. Similar efforts have also been under way to benefit other areas, including Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, Vancouver and Toronto.

Established in 2002 in Vancouver by Jatinder Singh, Sikhcess began as a community service program for young Sikhs to find a sense of place through youth camp initiatives. The program has expanded into the United States and in January began a campaign to feed the homeless, which has since prepared 20,000 food packages to feed people throughout the country. According to, that goal has been raised to 50,000, after the initial goal was reached in only nine months.

In addition to last weekend’s event, the Sikh community — which numbers about 100,000 in the United States and nearly 300,000 in Canada, with the majority of the 23 million Sikhs residing in India — has taken its concept of “langar” or free kitchen, to those on the streets. About 100 to 150 people primarily from Lawrence, Princeton, Hamilton and West Windsor attend services each week at the Lawrence temple, which opened in 2005.

Tenets such as service to community in the Sikh faith, which was established by Guru Nanak Dev in early 16th century India, are something 19-year-old Sonia Guleria, of Baker Way in Hopewell wants more people to be aware of. Ms. Guleria, currently a sophomore electrical engineering major at Villanova University, is the coordinator of the food drive assembly at the Lawrence temple.

”A lot of times Sikhs are associated in the press as terrorists because they wear turbans,” the former West Windsor resident said, noting personal experiences with friends and family members. “It’s always a very, very big issue in our community.”

She added, “I think this is a great way to shed light on Sikh people and make others more aware of how it is.”

Beyond greater public awareness of the Sikh culture, there is the simple need for those who can assist to do so for those who cannot, noted Amit Singh, the Sikhcess executive director.

”It’s all about doing something positive to help people around me, whether it’s my local community or all across America,” said Mr. Singh, 27, based in Chicago. “Sikhism encourages community service. It encourages people to do things for their local communities and people in general.”

”Sikhism is very much into public service,” said Sikhcess Executive Media Coordinator Jasmin Guleria, a 25-year-old Sikh living in New York City. “You have to give to people in need. This is primarily based on teaching youth about public service.”

Despite the program and organization having been started by those of the Sikh religion, Mr. Singh said anyone is welcome to participate, no matter what age, race or faith. “We have a sitting executive in Miami, a Lebanese, who is feeding between 500 and 1,000 homeless people. This is not limited, it’s more broad based than that.”

Jasmin, Sonia Guleria’s cousin, agreed, noting the program’s ability to help people regardless of who they are or what they believe. “We’re feeding people of all different races and religions,” she said. “It’s just a very humbling experience.”

With the growing success of Sikhcess, talks are under way to extend the food drives from an annual event to quarterly and possibly bring it to other places around the world, Sonia Guleria said.

”I definitely want to stay involved,” she said. “It’s been so much fun getting people together and planning.”

As volunteer Amarpreet Chadha, a resident of the Franklin Arms apartment complex in Lawrence, said, “This is what we do. We are proud because we are helping other people. Wherever the need is, we are always ready to help.”

United Sikhs Launched Learning Values Series for Children

New Delhi - United Sikhs launched last weekend a monthly Learning Values workshop series at the Guru Nanak Public School, Rajouri Garden, New Delhi, for children between the ages of 6 to 8 years. The main aim of the workshop was to enrich the children with the knowledge of Sikhism in a creative way.

The event started with the welcoming of the Chief Guest, Sardar Jaspal Singh, Director, United Sikhs- Asia and other panel members which included S. Partap Singh (Ex. DIG BSF), S. Partap Singh (Director, Singh world), Sdn. Harvinder Kaur (Manager, Reserve Bank of India) and Harmeet Singh, founder of Sikhi Sidak, an educational organization.

A slide show titled ‘Learning Values’ on basic principles of Sikhism and how children relate to them in their daily lives was led by United Sikhs volunteers, Harpreet Singh and Komalmeet Kaur. Saakhis (parables) on Sajjan Thug and Bhagat Farid were narrated to the 40 children who attended from the Guru Nanak Public School, Rajouri Garden and from the Kalgidhar Public School, Subhash Nagar. The childrens’ participation was inspirational.

An animated movie titled ‘Sahibzadey A Saga of Valour and Sacrifice’ was shown to the children followed by a quiz and an interactive session to assess them. Prizes were distributed to the children based on their active participation, confidence, presence of mind and expressions.

Certificates were awarded to all the children 8 year old Gurvigaas Singh of Subash Nagar said after the event, “I enjoyed the workshop because the saakhis were told through animated pictures and I could visualize what was happening a few hundred years ago.”

The participants were reminded of the duty the community has towards children by Sardar Jaspal Singh, who said, “We need to have steady roots if our trees are to remain evergreen. Our children are not only our future they also validate our present. It is, therefore, our duty to provide spiritual guidance in a way that will appeal to them.”

The United Sikhs learning Series workshop for children will be conducted monthly throughout Delhi at locations requested by the community, “ said Komalmeet Kaur, United Sikhs administrator, who was one of the workshop organisers.

Sdn. Harvinder Kaur presenting the first prize to Sukhbir Singh, 8 yrs, of Rajouri Garden, Guru Nanak Public School, who won the first prize

Another guest who spoke was Surjeet Kaur, the Divinity teacher at the Guru Nanak Public School. She appealed to United Sikhs to request the Rajouri Garden Gurdwara Management Committee to offer a daily subject on Divinity at the Guru Nanak Public school run by them in Rajouri Garden.