Indonesian Sikh youth team up with American Sikh diplomat to introduce Sikhism to local students

L-R: Prem, Gurdit and Chandeni – Photo: The @america Centre
By Asia Samachar Team | JAKARTA, INDONESIA |  

Some 100 students of a local Islamic state school (madrasah) had an opportunity to learn something about Sikhism from a recent engagement with three Sikhs in Jakarta.

Two Indonesian Sikh youth teamed up with an American Sikh diplomat from the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta to introduce Sikhism to the students at an event at @america, the U.S. Embassy’s American Center located in Jakarta on 20 June 2019.

Chandeni Rajinder Kaur, a student of business management at Pertamina University, and Prem Singh, a student of civil engineering at Tarumanaga University, joined Gurdit Singh, the deputy press attaché at U.S. Embassy Jakarta, in providing an interactive, bilingual (in English and Bahasa Indonesia) overview of the Sikh religious tradition to a group of inquisitive high school students.

The presentation began with a turban-tying demonstration led by a young, local Sikh volunteer.

While Gurdit introduced the audience to central precepts and practices of Sikhism in English, Chandeni and Prem reinforced this message in Bahasa Indonesia.

Gurdit also highlighted the history of Sikhs in the United States and their ongoing contributions to the U.S. in fields as varied as government, farming, aviation, education, and research and technology.

Likewise, the Indonesian Sikh youth underscored the vibrancy with which Sikhs practice their faith traditions in Indonesia and provided examples of renowned Indonesian Sikhs in fields ranging from government and civil service to sports.

Harbinderjit Singh Dillon, also known as Pak H.S. Dillon, one of the most well-known Indonesian Sikhs who has held important positions in Indonesian government and civil society, was present in the audience and instrumental to facilitating the partnership and discussions that resulted in this presentation.

After the presentation, students asked questions on a variety of topics, including the turban, the Five Ks, how Sikhs worship, what festivals they celebrate, the Sikh understanding of heaven and hell, as well as challenges experienced by the community in Indonesia and elsewhere.

Some of the presenters used resources prepared by the Sikh Coalition and offered information on textual and online sources available to advance understanding of the Sikh tradition.

HS Dhillon lends his support to event – Photo: The @america Centre

In addition to being students, both Prem and Chandeni are actively involved in teaching and mentoring young Indonesian Sikhs about different aspects of Sikhism, including kirtan.

Gurdit Singh has been a career foreign service officer at the U.S. Department of State for ten years. He has graduate degrees in comparative religion and sociology from Harvard University and the University of California, Santa Barbara, respectively.

He is the co-author of a comprehensive textbook on Punjabi published by Punjabi University, Patiala and the editor of Daddy’s Turban, a bilingual children’s book published by the Sikh Research Institute.


Balwant Singh Rahal: Indonesia loses an illustrious Sikh activist (Asia Samachar, 6 May 2019)


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