Our week began with a visit to the very active Sikh community in Upper Darby.
There are over 20 million Sikhs around the world today. Sikhism began over 500 years ago in the Punjab area of South Asia, which now includes the vast territories of Northern India and eastern Pakistan. Guru Nanak, born in 1469, founded the Sikh religion on the principles of love and understanding and rejection of blind rituals. Sikhism is about devotion to and remembrance of God at all times in life–behaving truthfully, embracing the equality of humankind, standing for social justice, and cooperating with people of all faiths.
As with any religious tradition, a few paragraphs cannot adequately inform you. I encourage you to read on your own or visit a Gurdwara to learn more.
Upon entering the Gurdwara, we were warmly greeted by Jasbir, a leader in the community. We put on head scarves, took off our shoes, and then washed our hands and wrists in the large basin just outside the prayer space. We sat with others in the prayer space, listening to beautiful prayer songs in Punjabi.
Then, we were led into the kitchen space for the langar meal.
Langar is a community meal that Sikhs offer to all people, free of charge.
It is an expression of equality, as all people sit together on the floor and enjoy the food as one communal experience.
After a great meal we headed over to their educational building for a Q&A session. There were great, curious questions asked.
Off to a good start!
Afterwards, we headed to the Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia for the opening workshop. We had the chance to get to know each other a little better and to hear about the Center’s various programs. Rev. Nicole Diroff, Assoc. Executive Director, joined us for that session. I was impressed with the students and their commitment to learning and interfaith cooperation.
Day 2, here we come!