US delegation reaches Amritsar to learn about Sikh religion, identity

  • Usmeet Kaur, Hindustan Times, Amritsar
  • Updated: Jul 04, 2015 23:28 IST

With an aim to sensitise the youth in America and enlighten them about Sikh identity so that the Sikh youths are not subjected to hate crimes abroad, a 15-member delegation from the US arrived here on Saturday to know about Punjab and the Sikhs, their religion and identity.

The delegation was here as a result of a collaboration between the Centre for studies in Sri Guru Granth Sahib of Guru Nanak Dev University and US-based the Fulbright Foundation.

During their three-week stay here, the students will undergo a course ‘Fulbright Hays 2015 group project: Exploring Punjabi/Sikh culture and language’.Coming from various religious and ethnic groups, the US delegation opted to start the course by paying obeisance at the Golden Temple on Saturday afternoon.

Coordinators of the project are Rani Dalbir Chaudhry from Columbia University, New York, and Y Johanson from St John’s University, Queens, New York.
The center would be instrumental in providing a platform to interfaith understanding and would pave the way for communal harmony, says professor Balwant Singh Dhillon, head, Centre for studies in Sri Guru Granth Sahib, who staunchly believe that such move will help delegations to sensitise the youth in their respective countries to minimise hate crime incidents.

Led by Prof Dhillon and GS Kang of Guru Nanak Dev University, the delegation was felicitated by Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) president Avtar Singh Makkar, secretaries Roop Singh and Manjit Singh.

Golden Temple information officer Gurbachan Singh apprised the delegation about the history of the Golden Temple and the SGPC, while calling it a mini Sikh parliament.

The delegation also had detailed discussion on the Sikhs, sacrifices made by them and their immense contribution to the history of the country.
Talking to the SGPC authorities, Johanson said, “Informative collaborations like these, where seminars, interactions and discussions are a part, will definitely help reduce hate crime incidents in the US. Whatever these teachers will gather and learn here about the identity of the Sikhs and Punjab would be forwarded to the youth in New York. We will definitely sensitise them.”

Talking about the three-week course, Prof Dhillon said the scholars of the centre and professors from various departments would be involved with the delegation and would be apprising them of the Sikh ethos, Punjabi language, Sikh history and culture and Punjab and its heritage.

The daily classes will commence from Monday 9.30am-1pm, where the delegates will learn the course, while their practice sessions will be in the evening. The delegation will be divided in three groups and each group will be given a teacher, who will teach and assist them.

The delegation will be given a welcome party on Sunday by the university authorities, and during the course they will also be taken to Anandpur Sahib, Chandigarh and historical sites in and around Amritsar.

During their tea break, the delegation would be given an opportunity daily to interact with local students, said Prof Dhillon.

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