Sikh Community Strong in L.A.

August 26, 2000

Source: Los Angeles Times

On August 26, 2000, the Los Angeles Times reported on the Sikh community of Los Angeles. While Sikhism might at times seem exotic to some, "the values and beliefs of Sikhism--which is monotheistic and puts great emphasis on family, education and charity--do not seem far removed from the mainstream." On a typical Sunday morning at the Sikh Gurdwara of Los Angeles, "approximately 150 Sikhs attending the 10:30 a.m. service sit cross-legged and barefoot on the carpeted floor of the immaculately clean auditorium, while service leaders sing prayers and other passages from the Guru Granth Sahib in the Punjabi language....'Everyone must sit on the floor to show we are all equal,' says Sakartar Gill, who takes pledge forms during the service from attendees (the temple has no formal membership). 'Even if you are king or vice president, you sit on the floor next to the common man. The only exception is for the disabled....' Outside the room, the scene is similar to that of many churches and synagogues. Children talk and play in the outer rooms, sometimes shushed by adults. In the kitchen, men and women volunteers crowd around stoves and cutting boards to fix a community meal that will be served after the service."

The opening prayer of the gathering might look similar to many Christians and Jews: The opening prayer declares: "There is One God, He is the Supreme Truth, The all-pervading Creator..." Tej Suri, who came from Punjab and is now a deputy assessor of Los Angeles County, explains that he "does not feel like a stranger" in America, saying, "'In God we trust.' You see it on every bill in America...Also, 'All men are created equal.' It is the same for us... We believe like Americans."