Community Awareness Talk at Pittsburgh, PA Gurudwara by Sanjay Mehta

Namaste and Sat Shri Akal,

We have brought our ancestral heritage, identity, cultural values from Bharat to America. It is important for us here in America to protect and preserve these values, our dignity, self-respect and of course our safely now and for future generations.

There have been recently some hostile and unfriendly incidences happened with some of our community members. A software engineer Srinivas was shot to death in Kansas. One of our Sikh brothers was shot in his own driveway in Seattle. While incidents do not necessarily make a trend, we need to address them, tackle them as they happened and with the help of local law authority. On the positive note, in all incidences, our community received needed support from local law enforcement authority, US and Indian governments.

For some of us these are just handful or small %, but for 30 years old young Sunayana, wife of Srinivas who was shot in Kansas, it is 100%. For a school kid, boy or girl, whose identity is challenged and who is being intimidated in school due to his/her socio-cultural background and practices, it is 100%.  World Hindu Council of America (VHPA) has formed a coalition of many likeminded organizations and institutions to address defamation, discrimination and hate issues. We have a registry created on the website to records incidences of abuse or crime.

We have prepared documents with all the details. Let me read a para from the documents. “The presence and contributions of three million legal Hindu, Sikh, Indian immigrants and the second generation of theirs is a testament to the openness of USA as a nation that has attracted and embraced the universal and peaceful ancient Vedic ideals of ‘सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः-Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah, (May all be happy).” You can obtain a copy of this document from me.

World Hindu Council of America is planning an awareness program across the country on how to handle these issues and how to get involved in county/township level community programs, be it a charity event, 4 th of July parade or a coffee with Cop. We can get help from DC and New Delhi, but we need to work at the grassroots level too.

There is wonderful book titled ‘India Unveiled’ authored by Robert Arnett which unveiled India’s fascinating traditions. There is a book title ‘Explaining Hindu Dharma’ published by World Hindu Council of UK, I am sure there must be a similar book on our Sikh traditions. We should make these books available in public library and schools to bring positive awareness about our community.

We are legal citizens of America, we are Sikh Americans, we are Hindu Americans. Our tradition is rich, we have a diamond to offer. Over the decades, Hindu/Sikh community has contributed to the growth of America. We have positively influenced over 20 million Americans through our values and traditions. We belong to the same roots, let us work together in this awareness program.

Again, it is not just about Srinivas or a Sikh brother, it is not about him or her, it is about ‘us’ as a community. It is about dignity, self-respect and safety of Hindu/Sikh, Indian diaspora, our youth in college campuses and our children in schools. So, please join.

Namaste and Sat Shri Akal!

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