Sangat can be described as the Sikh word for company, fellowship or association. In Sikhi, along with company, the word also stands for men and women that gather at the Gurdwara in the presence of the Guru Granth Sahib. Guru Nanak Dev Ji believed creating a community of Sikhs would help individuals become closer to Waheguru (God). When entering the Gurdwara, many are immediately overcome with a welcoming community who are willing to help others and provide seva or selfless service. Sangat leads Sikhs coming together for various purposes such as teaching kids punjabi, seva inside and outside the Sikh community, for Nam Japna or reciting God’s name, and countless more. In the midst of these uncertain times, various organizations have created resources for the Sikh community to continue initiating the presence of sangat and togetherness. The Sikh Coalition and Sikh net are to name a few.
The Sikh Coalition
The Sikh Coalition is a national community-based organization with over one hundred volunteer community advocates working to protect Sikh civil rights and human rights across the United States. Whether it’s working to secure safer schools, prevent hate and discrimination, create equal employment opportunities, or empower local Sikh communities, the Sikh Coalition’s goal is working towards a world where Sikhs, and other religious minorities in America, may freely practice their faith without bias and discrimination. They have provided a voice to the Sikh community in courtrooms, classrooms, and halls of Congress. The Coalition is currently the largest Sikh civil rights and advocacy organization and continuously looking for ways to raise awareness and connect the Sikh community around the world.
In response to COVID-19, their website provides users with valuable information and other resources they have organized during this time. One of the most valuable resources provided by them is the launch of The Sikh Coalition Kids Corner which is an e-learning series for Sikh kids and their peers. The Coalition offers virtual sessions through Facebook Live that allows kids to learn about literature, art, and music. The first live session was reading by the author of the story Super Sutya Saves the Day for elementary-aged children. Since the launch of the Sikh Coalition Kids Corner on March 25, 2020 it has connected to more than 15000 kids virtually and plans to continue to host at least one virtual learning session every Wednesday. The learning session will run live on Facebook, but it will also be recorded to be shared later in the hopes that kids can still be able to engage and learn.
The executive director of Sikh Coalition Satjeet Kaur has also written a special message regarding Covid-19 & wishing everyone a Happy Vaisakhi which is celebrated by Sikhs in the month of April. She also expresses how the Sangat is very much alive although we have not been able to gather and pray at the Gurdwara this year explains how to continue to stay protected through social distancing.
In addition, Sikh Coalition is providing various other online resources that are immensely helpful to the entire community:
- Education on cyber bullying for parents (given the increase in e-learning).
- Up-to-date information about travel restrictions in the United States, India, and elsewhere (in English and Punjabi).
- Analysis of the first federal relief package in response to the pandemic (in English and Punjabi) with a document that does a state-by-state breakdown of unemployment, Medicaid, and welfare programs.
- Specific information for healthcare professionals regarding protective mask regulations in hospitals.
- Specific information for taxi and ride share drivers in the NYC area regarding economic relief and additional opportunities.
- A link to the organization’s legal team to intake form, given the steady increase in bias and bigotry against Asian Americans.
SikhNet is a not-for-profit corporation in the USA operating exclusively for religious, charitable and educational purposes. The mission of Sikhnet is to create a ‘global virtual community for Sikhs and all those interested in the Sikh way of life. ‘The website provides news, daily Hukamnama, radio, virtually broadcasted divans and much more. In response to the current situation, Sikhnet is providing many helpful articles such as Tips From Parents: How To Build Strong Sikh Families During Covid-19 Times. The website also has a ‘Perspectives’ category where there is a special write-up titled Uncertainty-the bridge to accepting Hukam by Dr. Mansi and Dr. Simran Chawa who are psychiatrists that talk about how their patients are coping with the stress of corona virus. They also offer ways to help heal the mind through acceptance and remembering Bani. In an effort to connect Sikhs virtually during this time of celebration of Vaisakhi, there is an article titled Virtual Vaisakhi that provides events that are happening online and coloring sheets and videos for kids.