Despite the fact that Sikhism is the fifth-largest religion in the world, Sikh awareness–particularly in the United States–remains low, which in turn can contribute to discrimination or hate against our community. In 2019, the celebration of the 550th gurpurab of Guru Nanak Sahib Ji by Sikhs across the country represented a prime opportunity for the nationwide sangat to open their doors to their friends and neighbors.
Over the course of several months, the Sikh Coalition’s community development, advocacy, and media and communications teams worked together to support sangats in hosting tailor-made ‘open house’ events in celebration of the 550th gurpurab. Community members invited elected officials, interfaith leaders, law enforcement, members of the media, and neighbors to join them in gurdwaras to learn more about the Sikh faith. Some sangats also pursued service projects, interfaith services, or other activities designed to build bridges with their communities.
- gurdwaras engaged on open house events
- resources distributed across the country
- local media features following events
These open houses enabled sangats across the country to connect with their neighbors. Consider the following testimonials from gurdwara leaders:
“By conducting a service project while also opening our gurdwara up and serving langar to the wider community, we were able to show our local friends and neighbors how we live the value of seva.” — Sandeep Singh, Gurudwara Singh Sabha in Kalamazoo, Michigan
“This open house event proved to be a great way for our sangat to build bridges with local law enforcement officials. Our community feels safer and more secure thanks to this effort to develop those relationships.” — Gurcharan Singh, Sikh Gurdwara of Oklahoma in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
“The Sikh Coalition encouraged us to hold our open house and assisted with promotion and organization. We were proud to participate in this event knowing that we were doing so alongside Sikhs across the country.” — Guldeep Sethi, Guru Nanak Mission Gurudwara in Oakland, New Jersey
“By welcoming leaders of a wide variety of faith traditions to our interfaith service, we were able to show our local community in Bellingham how tolerance and oneness are core values in Sikhi.” — Kamalla Kaur, Gurdwara Guru Nanak Parkash in Bellingham, Washington
“Thanks to the Sikh Coalition’s support, we had the resources we needed to connect with important local officials and speak to press about how Sikhs have been a part of Santa Ana’s greater community for years.” — Jasleen Kaur, Sikh Center of Orange County in Santa Ana, California
How You Can Help
If you’re interested in hosting an open house event at your gurdwara, consider checking out the Sikh Coalition’s Open House Toolkit as a starting point.