The Sikh Students Association at UTM held Sikh Awareness Week on campus last week to inform students about Sikh history, customs, and traditions, and to dispel common misconceptions about turbans.
The Sikh Students Association is a student club at UTM that promotes the Sikh faith through weekly prayer sessions and discussions.
The SSA showed movies about the importance of keeping long hair for Sikhs; the importance of language and music in the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy text; and the daily operations of the prominent Sikh temple known as the Golden Temple in India. The SSA also offered langar, a free kitchen lunch.
“While eating langar, we cover our heads as a sign of respect and we take off shoes and sit on the floor to create a concept of equality. It doesn’t matter what caste you are, what religion, what colour or what beliefs you have,” said Darshan Kaur, the marketing director of the SSA. Kaur explained the historical origin of langar, which was instituted by the first Sikh guru in the 15th century. It was intended to invite everyone—kings and beggars—to come together to sit on the same level and share the same food made by volunteers.
The SSA also organized a performance of gatka, a weapon-based Indian martial art, in the RAWC. The performance demonstrated how Sikhs used to fight in the past, said Kaur. The performers simulated duels in various fighting styles, wielding swords, sticks, small axes, and shields.
An exhibition in the Presentation Room in the Student Centre portrayed Sihk heritage, the lives of the first Sikhs in Canada, and stories of important societal contributions by Sikhs. During the exhibition, Pardeep Nagra, a UTM alumnus and former Ontario light flyweight boxing champion, urged students to look beyond their own life and get involved with community activities and charities.
“You only grow as an individual when you go out and do things, and you challenge yourself and get outside your comfort zone,” said Nagra. “A kite rises against the wind rather than with it. This is where you develop resilience, this is where you develop strength, this is where develop courage. And those are the fundamental qualities that are actually going to help you.”