Sikh Studies tour for High School students at the Wheaton Gurdwara Sahib on April 18, 2019 in Wheaton, IL

Manpriya Kaur presenting to students from the Naperville North High School

The Sikh Resource Society (SRS) of Schaumburg, Illinois an institutional member of the American Sikh Council (ASC) has been holding bi-annual gurdwara tours combined with a comprehensive Sikh Studies basics geared towards high school and college students in the greater Chicago area for the last five years. This most recent bi-annual Sikh event was held on Thursday April 18, 2018 for the Naperville North High School students as part of the integrated religions class.

Ashvinder Kaur, Manpriya Kaur, Sarvpaul Singh, Laj Kaur, Gurpreet Kaur and Davinder Singh organized and ran the study tour.

During this session there were over 100 students and faculty who came through seeking hands on experience in learning about the Sikh way of life.

Members of the Sikh Resource Society (SRS), with the support and encouragement of the Illinois Sikh Community Center (Wheaton Gurdwara), typically hosts 75 to 125 students taking a religions course at Naperville North High School, Naperville, IL.

This particular course focuses on multiple religions, and for the past five years, they have worked closely with educators, in providing accurate information on Sikhs and their way of life.

Students receive a tour of the Gurdwara Sahib along with details on Langar, Sri Guru Granth Sahib, current events, Sikh identity, Kirtan display (by the local Bhai Sahib), and an opportunity to tie a Dastaar.

Additionally the following concepts were also addressed; Sarbat da Bhalla, the Kirpan, equality of all regardless of gender, the Khanda, the true meaning of the dastaar, the Khalsa Sajna Divas and other important Sikh religious holidays, the Sustained Sikh Genocide in India, the true meaning of pangat and much more.

The visit is one that dives into the intricacies of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib and it’s mathematical and musical compilation and allows for a Q&A session in groups so that the students can ask questions that may intrigue them and may not be found in books.

Gurpreet Kaur ties a turban while Davinder Singh is explaining to the students at the Sikh Studies class/tour

Students are divided into groups which rotate with their tour guides through the divan hall, langar hall, have a discussion session, and then come together in a large group to experience kirtan and turban tying.

Sikh Resource Society (SRS) Sikh Ambassadors go through a training on how to answer a diverse set of questions that have been asked in the past, tackling the art of conversation and communication, and training in discussing controversial topics in society through the lens of Gurbani. The training also includes a shadowing component and all Sikh Ambassadors are required to be active Sikhs who have their Sikh identity intact.

Training materials are available for gurdwaras and Sikh organizations that wish to replicate this process.

The Sikh Resource Society (SRS) must be congratulated for diligently and passionately pursuing the very important and much needed service, which must be supported whole heartedly by all gurdwaras, as this is the need of the hour. This kind of community engagement outside the gurdwara premises is critical in order to not only empower our youth but also to engage with the larger non-Sikh community so that they know our wonderful religious values.

Ashvinder Kaur speaking to students at the gurdwara, while Davinder Singh and Sarvpaul Singh talk to students in the background.

The Wheaton Gurdwara (Illinois Sikh Community Center) must be given due credit in allowing the SRS to continue to hold these extremely important educational tours which are highlighting the phenomenal mission of the Sikh Gurus. The gurdwara management and the Bhai Jaswant Singh must be thanked for their continued cooperative support to make this ongoing initiative a success.

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