ABOUT THE FILM
What makes me a Sikh?
That question posed by nine-year-old Zara Garcha starts a family’s journey to learn about their religion. The Garcha family explores Sikhism by visiting diverse Sikh communities around the world: meeting with a Maharaja, cheesemakers, fashionistas, farmers, and scholars to glean a better understanding of the world’s fifth largest religion.
Their journey begins in Parma where they meet Sikhs who have a hand in creating Italy’s iconic Parmesan cheese. From there, the Garcha’s head east traveling to India to visit The Golden Temple, and learn about the historical foundations of the religion. As their travels continue their lived experience blends with academic insight and we see how the religion and culture has manifested itself throughout the world.
The center of Sikh spirituality nestled in the North of India, in the heart of the Punjab, the fertile territory that gave birth to the religion in the 15th century. Zara’s family visits this holiest Sikh shrine to access the origins of her heritage.
At the Golden Temple, Zara catches the ceremonial ‘waking up’ of the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy book. Because the words of the ancient Gurus are considered to be alive, the book is awakened and put to sleep everyday in a majestic ceremony.
Zara and family explore the Golden Temple and the holy city of Amritsar. She gets a peek at how the food is prepared for the world’s largest free meal, called Langar. The kitchen feeds an estimated 100,000 visitors a day with no expectation of payment. Service, feeding the hungry and eating together in equality are deeply held beliefs among Sikhs.
Zara learns about her heritage from every sort of Sikh - from the Maharaja of Kapurthala to a wise old woman from her father’s family’s village. From there they jump off to visit the - often surprising - Sikh communities around the world.
These guys are making the Khalsa cool again, one turban at a time. Headed by blogger Pardeep Singh Bahra, the self-styled Turbaned Fashion Blogger, these guys believe that any Sikh can update the traditional look without compromising on principles. Among the Sikh diaspora, it’s all about adaptation.
A small and thriving Sikh community has been nestled in the North of Italy for many years, producing some of the finest cheeses in the world. Mann’s father’s business was agriculture - very common among Sikhs - but Mann had no interested in farming, so he joined some family in Italy and learned to produce Parmigiano Reggiano in the traditional way.
Sikhism is rooted in militarism, connected with its deep value for social justice, which originated with the first Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak. Defending the weak is a primary tenet of the religion, but the Punjabi people were familiar with warfare long before the Gurus. Since that time, joining the military has been a natural choice for many Sikhs, who contributed significantly during the World Wars. These reenactors are honoring their ancestors who fought heroically for the British in WWI.
Following September 11, 2001, Sikhs in America have been the target of several acts of violence, including a shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin by a white supremacist, leaving six dead. Given that a poll conducted by the National Sikh Coalition discovered that 60% of Americans don’t know what Sikhism is, the gunman may have misidentified his target. Zara and family interviewed the survivors to learn what a Sikh response to such an attack ought to be. And the answer is remarkable.
In 1999, British Columbia changed a helmet law to allow Sikhs to ride a motorcycle with a turban, and the Sikh Motorcycle Club has been riding proudly ever since. They ride together and do charitable works, spreading the word that the turban can be a symbol of friendship. Zara rode with these rebels through the mountains of B.C. and learned about the spirituality of the Ride.