“Sikhism: What’s It All About?” is the title of free talk from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday at International House, Davis, 10 College Park. The public is welcome and refreshments will be served.
One of several speakers will be a 21-year-old engineering student, Harfateh Singh. He is a member of the Sikh Cultural Association at UC Davis. Singh is eager to describe the principles and beliefs of Sikhism, which he describes as both a religion and a way of life.
He and his family moved to San Jose from Punjab, India, five years ago. The Punjab is home to about 75 percent of the Sikhs in India.
Singh estimates that about 750,000 Sikhs live in the United States, with about 40 percent of those in California.
“The census data is inconclusive because Sikhs are not separately recognized,” he said. “However, there is a vast concentration of Sikhs in the Bay Area as well as throughout the Central Valley. Many Sikhs who immigrated to California early in the 20th century were farmers attracted by the fertile Central Valley.”
The first Sikh temple was built in Stockton in 1912, Singh said.
“Appearance is a big deal in Sikhism,” he said. Men wear turbans and grow beards and carry a ceremonial knife. The appearance of a Sikh stands for something, he added.
Sikhs meditate on a regular basis, Singh said, seeking to reunite themselves with God, and stressing adherence to ethics in daily life.