Sikh Faithful Emphasize Community and Generosity; 2,000 Families Estimated in Boston
The Sikh gurdwara in Everett, a house of worship that draws about 300 to weekly services, was locked Monday.
A day after a gunman opened fire in a Wisconsin gurdwara, killing six people and wounding three, anyone wishing to enter the Everett worship space had to be let in.
It was a sad moment for the gurdwara, said Mohan Saini, chairman of the Boston Sikh Sangat Society. In keeping with a faith centered on egalitarianism, community, and charity, the doors are normally open from morning till evening, and strangers are welcome.
“That is the beauty of this religion; there is no discrimination,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what color you are, what religion — you feel like going to the gurdwara, the door is open. We serve food to whoever comes inside the temple, and you don’t pay for it.”
Sikhism, a major religion with about 25 million adherents worldwide, remains little known and widely misunderstood in the United States, where turban-wearing Sikh men are often mistaken for Muslims. In fact, said Harpreet Singh, a doctoral student in religion at Harvard University, nearly all people who wear turbans in the United States are Sikhs.
“We don’t want to say, ‘We are not Muslims,’ because that has the implication of, ‘Don’t attack us; attack them,’ ” he said.
But, he said, it has been difficult for American Sikhs to articulate the tenets of their faith to the media and the wider public. “It’s really just an education issue more than anything else,” he said.