Family Fun Day provided a festive finale to Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month, celebrated in Santa Clara throughout November and spilling over to December 3 at an indoor celebration at Don Callejon Elementary School, 4176 Lick Mill Dr., Santa Clara. The celebration theme, “Service to Humanity,” was built around the three pillars of Sikhism: hard work and honesty, sharing and serving humanity, and mindfulness of God.
“We want to do outreach to the community. People don’t know who the Sikhs are,” said Savinder Singh, director of Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month (www.saam-ca.org). “We are American. We are proud to be part of this country, and we do celebrate the diversity of American culture.”
The free community mixer, which drew at least 300 people, included recognition by (and of) Santa Clara and state political dignitaries, on-stage entertainment, kids’ arts and crafts, turban tying, short films by young Sikh producers, opportunity drawings to raise money for five local charities benefitting the homeless and hungry, free health screenings and a bone marrow drive.
The festivities, with J.J. Singh as emcee, began with the singing of the “Star Spangled Banner” as all stood and Cub Scout Pack 600 from Guru Nanak Khalsa School, San Jose, led by Cub Master Barinder Pal Singh, saluted the flag.
A proclamation honoring the contributions of the Sikh California community was presented by state Senator Bob Wieckowski, who said that he recently returned from Poland, where his family roots are. Santa Clara Vice Mayor Teresa O’Neill and Councilmember Kathy Watanabe presented a city proclamation.
“We celebrate the diversity that enriches everyday life here in Santa Clara,” said O’Neill. “We truly embrace and welcome all here today.”
The energetic entertainment included a martial arts demonstration, lively northern Indian Punjabi folk dances (the Bhangra and the Giddha) and magic as magician Vikram Singh (www.amasingh.com), whose stage name is “Amasingh,” did, indeed, bring amazement to all.
A highlight was the annual turban fashion show. Turban-wearing men, women and children representing various walks of life paraded on stage: media personalities, a pilot and a bus driver, members of the U.S. military, musicians, medical workers, sports players and others. Then in a moving finale, the entertainers and fashion show models returned to the stage to lead the audience in singing the iconic 1985 Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie song “We Are the World.”
A free, hot vegetarian meal that included spicy pakore, pasta and pizza, was provided by the San Jose Sikh Gurdwara (temple)–the largest in North America (www.sanjosegurdwara.org). Serving 300 was nothing according to Gurdwara Director Sukhdev Singh Bainiwal, who pointed out that the gurdwara regularly feeds the community.
“We serve one thousand meals daily to members and the community–8,000 on Sundays,” said Bainiwal. ” We take food monthly to a homeless shelter and to St. James Park.”
Family Fun Day was organized and supported by Sikh community volunteers and leaders, who include members of the San Jose Gurdwara and the nonprofit Joy of Sewa.
“It’s very important not only to reach out to non-Sikhs but to make Sikhs proud of their unique identity and make them proud of being part of the American Culture, too,” said community leader Harpreet Singh Kohli, reflecting on the significance to all of Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month.