The first day of April has brought good news. The state of New Jersey, as part of its effort to promote awareness about Sikhs and Sikhism, has declared April as the Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month.
New Jersey’s State Assembly made the declaration in a joint resolution this week, saying it was an effort to combat the “increasing and unacceptable levels of anti-Sikh bigotry.” “The month of April of every year is designated as Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month’ in the State of New Jersey in order to promote public awareness of the Sikh faith, recognize the important contributions of the Sikh community,” the resolution said.
“Nearly 60% of Americans admit to knowing nothing about the religion or its practitioners, and national rates of anti-Sikh bigotry rose dramatically following the September 11th terrorist attacks,” the resolution said, even as New Jersey Mayor Ravi Bhalla and his family continue to face threats on a daily basis.
Sikhs experience school bullying disproportionately, with estimates indicating that over 50% of all Sikh children, and roughly 67% of turbaned-Sikh children, endure physical or verbal abuse while at school. In New Jersey, a Sikh student’s turban was set on fire by a classmate at Hightstown High School in 2008.
The resolution was adopted unanimously by both New Jersey chambers as the state wants to acknowledge the lasting contributions of the Sikh people.
The author of the joint resolution AJR 93, Karanveer Singh Pannu, who is a SALDEF (Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund) SikhLEAD alumni, and author of “Bullying of Sikh-American Children: Through the Eyes of a Sikh-American High School Student,” said, “This is an incredible victory for the entire Sikh community, after putting in countless hours at Assemblyman Louis Greenwald’s office this past summer, I am beyond ecstatic that it was voted on today and successfully passed. This is the first step in teaching citizens of our great State of New Jersey that the turban represents the core American values of equality, freedom, and social justice. Not only are Sikh Americans a critical component of American society but our faith follows the same core values that make us a great nation.”
Earlier the state assemblies of Indiana and Delaware had adopted similar resolutions and declared the month of April this year as the Sikh Heritage Month and the Sikh Awareness month, respectively.
Not competent enough to sit idle and stare as the world goes by, Pallavi is optimistic to a fault and believes in building her world on her own rather than depending on others to make things right.