GLEN ROCK, NJ - The Borough Council honored its Sikh community, filling the room with members who discussed the "love, service and charity" that emanates from the fifth largest religion in the world, according to councilwoman Arati Kreibich.
"It's clear we need to raise awareness about this religion which promotes love, service and charity," Kreibich said on April 11.
The group is subject to one biased incident per week in the United States, Kreibich said.
In a statement from Mayor Bruce Packer, who was attending the Ridgewood Water meeting that same evening, he said he is proud of the Sikh community that includes state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal.
Grewal spoke about the number of hate crimes in general, 417, that occurred in 2016 and said that number will be higher after the numbers are tallied in 2017.
Grewal said he was the only Sikh in his school growing up, and it was there he learned to "stay strong" and was encouraged through his faith to keep his "internal optimism."
"I am thrilled to raise my family here and to worship here," he said.
Several members of the Sikh community spoke about their comfort in Glen Rock and how they look to "promote equality" and "pray for all mankind."
One eighth-grade girl said she was "born to standout," but she doesn't use it to isolate herself. "I wear an iron bracelet and I have uncut hair to show I am one with God. I am here to work with the community."
A Sikh gentleman said, "Every time I tie my turbin, I go out and awake hate. But that doesn't matter to us. We protect America and its values like everyone else."
Another Sikh man said he invites the public to their services and celebrations which include "amazing food."
"We should standout," the man said. "We should seize the opportunity to promote the values we all share as people."
And yet another Sikh said he lives by "eternal optimism."
"We are about selflessness and being open to everyone," he said. "Come see how open we are, inclusive. It's what everyone should believe."
Facts Commonly Known About Sikhism:*
1. Belief: Sikhism is a monotheistic religion, and the basic Sikh belief is represented in the phrase Ik Onkar meaning “One God.”
2. History: Sikhism was founded in the Punjab region in India in the 15th century by Guru Nanak Dev. Sikhism broke from Hinduism due, in part, to its rejection of the caste system.
3. Scripture: The primary source of Scripture for Sikhs is the Guru Granth Sahib, regarded as the living Guru, after the final Guru in human form, Guru Gobind Singh, passed away.
4. Place of worship: A Sikh place of worship is known as the gurdwara. The word gurdwara means “doorway to God.” Men and women normally sit apart in the gurdwara. Traditionally there is no official clergy within the Sikh tradition. Over time however, priests have become more commonplace. Many gurdwaras employ priests to conduct services, while many others are run entirely by members of the local congregation.
5. The Five Ks: The Five Ks are the articles of faith that Sikhs wear as ordered by the 10th Guru, Guru Gobind Singh. Most Sikhs wear one or more of the articles but only Sikhs who have taken amrit, a ritual analogous to baptism, wear all. They include:
Kesh, or unshorn long hair, which is protected by a dastaar, or turban. The dastaar is worn by men and some women to cover their long hair. But most women keep their hair long and uncovered, except for when entering a gurdwara.
A kangha is a small wooden comb meant to keep the hair combed twice a day.
A kara is an iron bangle to be worn on the hand used most.
A kachera is a specific undergarment for men and women.
A kirpan is a short dagger.
*Credit: Huffington Post and independently verified