Diaspora attempts to spread Guru Nanak’s message in US schools

November 13th, 2008 - 3:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Chandigarh, Nov 13 (IANS) On the occasion of the 539th birth anniversary of the first Sikh guru, Guru Nanak Dev, a US-based Sikh organization has prepared letters for diaspora Sikh parents, which will be sent along with their children to the schools, so that they can read and share the Sikh guru’s message of universal brotherhood. On the lines of the American Church, the Sikh Council on Religion and Education (SCORE) wants the teachings of the first Sikh guru to be propagated in school classrooms in the US.

“SCORE, through various mass media, is urging parents, especially of the diaspora, to take an off (on Nov 13) and spend the 539th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak with their children and narrate them stories about the life and teachings of Guru Nanak,” Rajwant Singh, the Washington-based chairman of SCORE told IANS.

The organisation is requesting Sikh parents to send with their children a note which their teachers can read in the class for the benefit of other students.

“This will definitely create a sense of pride in Sikh children and help in creating more understanding about our faith and tradition,” Singh said.

The note has been divided in three categories as per grades.

“This is the day when we should let the world know who Guru Nanak was. We will be creating more awareness about our faith and our beloved guru when we share this with our co-workers and when our children will tell their fellow students about this important day,” the communication to parents says.

Post 9/11, Sikhs have been targets of hate in some parts of the US - mainly due to their religious turbans and beard which make them appear like Arabs.

The note for pre-school, kindergarten, first and second grade classes reads: “Nov 13 is the birthday of Guru Nanak. (Guru means a religious teacher or messenger). Guru Nanak was born in 1469. That was 539 years ago. Guru Nanak started the Sikh religion in India. He taught that all people are equal, no matter what their colour or religion, or what country they come from.”

“He taught that boys are not better than girls nor are girls better than boys. He said that everyone should work hard, be truthful and treat everyone else fairly. To celebrate Guru Nanak’s birthday, Sikh boys and girls do not go to school. They go with their families to the gurdwara (the Sikh place of worship) to sing hymns written by Guru Nanak, and to read the Sikh Holy Book. They eat sweet things like cookies and candies to remember Guru Nanak’s good life and sweet words. Like during Christmas time, Sikhs take time off to celebrate the founder of their religion, Guru Nanak.”

The notes for higher classes in schools have additional information. It reads: “Guru Nanak wrote his teachings in poems. He wrote nearly 1,000 of these compositions which are now part of the Sikh holy book which is all written in rhymes. When Sikhs go to their place of worship on Guru Nanak’s birthday, they sing many of his poems as hymns. Perhaps you have friends who are Sikhs.”

“They would like you to know, on Nov 13, they are celebrating the birthday of Guru Nanak, their first Guru. Much like the uniform of policemen, fire fighters, and doctors, Sikhs too have their uniform. Their uniform is their identity, which practically represent the teachings of Guru Nanak.”

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