Monday, June 11, 2007

Why Not Open Khalsa Schools Instead?

Personally, I think Sikhs should open Khalsa Schools to ensure their children receive a complete education, which includes learning about Sikhism from Sikhs. Having a Khalsa school would also ensure that children receive Gurmat based learning regarding Sikhism and not "Punjabiyat" distortions of Sikhism which still cause people to think along casteist, misogynist, superstitious, "bhaami", and other anti-Sikh lines.

Maybe this commentator from Australia's Herald Sun should have extended his line of thinking further towards those ends... if Sikhs want their children to be full Sikhs at all times, better to have their own schools?
AUSTRALIA is a tolerant country. There are isolated strands of racism of the type that will always defy education and enlightenment.

But few of the world's nations are as relaxed about unfamiliar faiths, cultures and ideas.

We accept change and, in the main, have developed a sensible maturity about immigration flows and the short-term complications that accompany them.

As the Sunday Herald Sun has argued, the process often involves compromise.

Newcomers may have to modify their expectations, old hands may have to absorb different sights and sounds and the ways in which faith is expressed.

No problem is beyond a solution, not even the newest disturbance over religious symbolism in schools.

As reported today, some Sikh families want their children to wear a kirpan, a small dagger, even in the classroom.

It is one of the five articles of faith a baptised Sikh is expected to carry on his person at all times.

The Victorian Multicultural Commission supports the Sikh community in its desire to uphold this religious tradition.

But it is no surprise to discover that many teachers and parents are alarmed.

A kirpan may be 15cm long. It is a knife by another name. It would be almost impossible to carry a knife through security at an airport -- so why allow anyone to carry a potential weapon through the school gate?

As with all differences of opinion, common ground can be found if there is goodwill on both sides.

Australia's Sikhs are members of the fifth biggest religion in the world, founded in northern India in the 15th century.

They have a right to have their traditions respected and we have a duty to defend freedoms of faith and expression, provided they are peaceful, even if they do not correspond with mainstream beliefs.

But Sikhs must also allow for context and timing.

We live in a world frightened by both terrorism and the mindless violence witnessed all too frequently in schools, especially in the US.

In these circumstances, it would seem appropriate for Sikh children to wear the kirpan only if it were a very small, decorative item without sharp edges.

Originally worn on a belt to defend the faith, the kirpan is more commonly seen today as a decorative item around the neck.

For schools, it should be only a modestly sized pendant, just as rich in symbolism to Sikhs, but stripped of any fears it might have held for their friends in school.

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