The world’s fifth largest religion – Sikhism – now has its own awareness month in the First State.
16-year-old Jasmine Kaur Minhas has been helping her father organize events throughout April – since it was established as Sikh Awareness & Appreciation month in March.
Jasmine says many Delawareans don’t know much about Sikhism, or why many Sikh men wear turbans.
“In Sikhism, the turban represents a symbol of generosity, friendliness and pride and it is nothing to fear," Kaur Minhas said.
She said 99% of those who wear turbans in the U.S. are Sikhs, not members of the Taliban or other terrorist groups. She added Sikhism is also often mistaken with Hinduism or Islam.
In the aftermath of 9/11 - and more recent anti-immigrant rhetoric - her father Charanjeet Singh Minhas recognized the need to educate others about his faith.
“Sikhs in many instances have been mistaken for the Taliban, people who are undesirable," Singh Minhas said. "They were mistaken for those kinds of people, which was not true.”
He says that the majority of hate crimes against Sikhs occur out of ignorance - and a misunderstanding about the religion, culture and its traditions, like the turban.
That misunderstanding is what Charanjeet is hoping to change with Delaware’s recent designation of April as awareness month for Sikhism.
On Friday, he’s hosting a cultural event from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Bawarchi Biryani restaurant in Newark, tied to the Sikh festival Vaisakhi.
“We are trying to show the cultural aspects of Sikhism: the various folk dances, the singing that Sikhs have in festivals and daily lives, the kind of food and dress,” he said.
The event will feature food, a Punjabi singer, dancers performing the Bhangra folk dance and more.