California honors November as Sikh Appreciation and Awareness Month

Recognizing the contributions made to California from the fifth most popular religion in the world

by Kayle Noel, Contributor

Sikhism is both recognized as religion and philosophy, originating from the Punjab region of India. Like many religions, Sikhism does not have a national celebrated month, however in 2015 California legislation classified November as California Sikh American Awareness and Appreciation Month. 

Sikhism is the fifth largest religion in the world, and California is where a lot of Sikh American history begins.

 

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Virginia Loh-Hagan, director of the Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Center, talked about the large-scale immigration that began in 1907 from the Punjab region to the United States.

“Looking at Asian American history, a lot of the Desi Americans who came here, especially the early South Asian immigrants, were Sihks from the Punjab area,” Loh-Hagan said.

According to the UC Davis archives, settlements were made in Central Valley, Imperial Valley, and notably, Stockton California, which holds the Gurdwara, the first Sihk temple in the United States.  

Loh-Hagan explained that California has a lot of Sikh history worth celebrating.

“I think that’s the point of us celebrating California Sikh Awareness and Appreciation month, because there is so much rich and mostly unknown history,” Loh-Hagan said.

California was also home to the Peach King, a Sihk man who became one of the largest independent peach farmers in California, and became a community leader within California, passed away in September.

As stated by the LA Times, Didar Bains, the Peach King did a lot more for the community than providing peaches. According to Loh-Hagan, he was also responsible for a lot of almonds and pistachios that we produce. 

John Loo, a faculty professor of communications at SDSU, mentioned the importance of recognizing people’s beliefs and learning what brings people together.

“I think that taking time to look at different voices, backgrounds and experiences is such a powerful way for us to understand each other better, Loo said. “Having a month dedicated to Sikhism allows people to potentially learn about different backgrounds, cultures and more importantly, what people believe and their value system. In a world that perhaps we are more divided than we want to be, it’s important to look at things that unite people.”

The APIDA center celebrated California Sikh Awareness month on Nov. 7, and Nov. 14, where they hosted events for contemporary Sikh art and Punjabi folk embroidery. 

For more about Sihk culture, visit sdsuapidacenter on Instagram, where you can find information on Asian Pacific Islander Desi American culture and heritage.