Around 225 people from Tracy and the surrounding area filled the Tracy Community Center on Sunday afternoon to learn about Sikhism and Sikh families and business people in Tracy.
“Meet the Sikh Next Door,” supported by the Sikh Coalition, was designed to be a community outreach event to educate and engage with Tracy residents after the killing of Parmjit Singh, a Sikh man who immigrated from India, in August at Gretchen Talley Park in south Tracy.
Sarabjit Kaur Cheema, a member of the New Haven School District Board in Union City, spoke first. She talked about her experience coming to the United States on her way to being a school board member, a civil engineer, a mother to three sons and a grandmother.
Stanford University student J.J. Kapur, who won first place in Original Oratory at the National Speech & Debate Association tournament in 2017, delivered the keynote address. He told the audience about his experience of growing up in Des Moines, Iowa, as the only Sikh at his school. His presentation touched on issues of Sikh identity after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, when he was 2, and how the organization he founded, Iowa Turbanators, has used education to remove the stigma from Sikhism.
Sikh residents of Tracy also took turns on stage to tell their stories of setting down roots here, starting families, establishing businesses and giving back to the community at large.
The event included a turban tying demonstration by Ranjodh Singh Dhillon, who showed the audience how a Sikh man arranges his turban each morning. Jagdeep Sahota answered questions from the audience about turban length and colors and how it feels to wear a turban.