Pupils at the school were visited by Harpreet Shergill, who was representing the Sikh faith for our PSHE lesson. Not only is Harpreet a Trustee, Governor and member of the Karamsar Ilford Gurdwara, but he is also a qualified Pharmacist. Year 7 and Year 8 took part in a joint question and answer session. Harpreet’s presentation helped everyone to understand and appreciate Sikhism and what it feels like to be a Sikh.
Sikhs are forbidden to eat meat prepared as part of a ritual, therefore Halal and Kosher meat is forbidden and must not be consumed by Sikhs. Many Sikhs are vegetarian but they believe that the decision to eat meat is an individual choice. All food served in the Gurdwara is vegetarian. In this way Sikhs can offer hospitality to anyone and no one will be offended by being given food they cannot eat.
Harpreet spoke about the Sikhs’ place of worship, known as the Gurdwara. On first entering the large prayer room called the Darbar Sahib, a bow to the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy scripture, shows respect to the host community. Visitors will usually be offered Kara Parshad (sweet flour and oil based food offered as a gift) in the worship hall, which is usually given in cupped hands. All Gurdwaras have a Langar, vegetarian food from the communal kitchen.
Harpreet spoke about the ‘5 Ks’. Some of our pupils already had an understanding and respect of the concept and were able to contribute to the discussion. Harpreet was delighted by our pupils’ knowledge and enthusiasm for the subject. Harpreet showed us pictures of the ‘5 Ks’:
- Kacchera: long white shorts worn as an undergarment which help Sikhs to be disciplined, practise restraint and manage their emotions
- Karha: an iron bangle with is worn to represent God, an infinite circle
- Kes: a Sikh vows to uncut hair
- Kangha: a wooden comb worn in the hair knot
- Kirpan: a small sword worn for protection, mercy, honour and respect.
We learnt that Sikhs believe that faith and belief in a higher power are like support systems help us to navigate the world. The presence of humans, is after millions of years of evolution, and humans themselves are at the peak of evolution after various reincarnated forms. Therefore, Sikhs should not waste the opportunity and add value to the world by doing good.
This talk followed on from an earlier visit to the school from members of the Christian faith and Jewish faith, it helped our pupils have a better understanding of Sikhism. Pupils showed a lot maturity and respect during Harpreet’s presentation, which we all found very interesting. We all learnt so much. Before Harpreet left, he was kind enough to invite us to his Gurdwara to experience what it is to be a Sikh. We hope to visit soon.