The whole thing started a couple of years ago, and funny enough, sometimes the simplest of questions sparks off a big endeavor. And, in this case, it was a simple question by our daughter Zara: “Papa, what does it mean to be a Sikh?"
We live in Singapore. So, unfortunately, she does not come very much in contact with the community much.
Of course, I tried to answer it to the best of my ability, but I figured, hey, why not embark on a mission as a family over the next couple of years to try and find out?
We started out when Zara was nine years old. Our first stop was in the Parma cheese-making region in Italy--Italy has the second largest Sikh population in Europe—with Zara asking the questions.
We invited a film crew along and after our first stope we realized we could make an educational over film with a social message, that would help both non-Sikhs and younger Sikhs learn more about the philosophy and values behind Sikhism, beyond the rituals.
Over the next five years, we traveled to six more countries — Argentina, Canada, India, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States — to ask people about their faith, beliefs, and customs. We talked to religious leaders, historians, military personnel, and fashionistas. We met were the Sikh Motorcycle Club in Vancouver, a family of Parmesan cheese makers in Italy and Fauja Singh — the oldest marathoner in the world.
Zara was probably most affected by our visit to the community of the Oak Creek, Wisconsin, where six people were fatally shot and four others injured in 2012 outside the gurdwara (Sikh temple) as the target of a hate crime.
It takes a bit of courage to take your family on a trip like this, which is also key to being Sikh, I guess, to do something that's different.
Satinder Garcha, May 2016