We’ve been publicizing, interviewing, tabling & spreading the word about the ‘Know Your Neighbor’ event here in Fresno. What we noticed during this time was very few paid attention to the why. Yes, you knew we were going to make pizza at Nanak Prakash Gurdwara on Thursday and you knew we were going to deliver over 200 pizzas to neighbors near Nanak Sar between 5 and 7pm. However, did you know why? When we hande out flyers to the sangat at gurdwaras throughout Fresno we tried our best to let you know the purpose of the event-to know our neighbors and serve langar to those who actually need it. During this time we received negative feedback and were told this event was not really going to make a difference. We still pushed on because deep down we knew it was serving the original purpose of the institutions.
The youth of Fresno spent the last two weeks dedicating a number of hours to coordinate the details of the ‘know your neighbor’ initiative. We want to be sure that we are clear in our ‘why.’ We are doing this to serve the real purpose of langar-to those who really need it. My parents always mentioned vand ke chakna (to share our resources), so why aren’t our doors open to the community that needs it? Does a person have to be Sikh to eat langar-I don’t think so. Bhai Ghanaiya served the opposing army during the time of Guru Gobind Singh Ji & Guru Sahib embraced his kind actions, as he ultimately understood the true meaning of seva. Yet, what do we do? We think seva is constricted in the four walls of our gurdwaras or homes. Now that’s not what I’ve understood. And, believe me, if you walked the neighborhood as I did you would see these are the families that need it much more than we do. The bright smiles and cheers of the children, happy they were getting pizza on Thursday. The gesture of gratitude from the parents as they wouldn’t have to worry about what to make for dinner. This is where the community is struggling. This is where it is needed. This is when I realized we need there is much more we can be doing and should be doing.
Now for those of you who might be wondering how does this connect to Sardar Piara Singh, I promise it does. While going door to door we showed our presence in this community. A community where land prices are cheap. A community where we build our gurdwaras. A community where we don’t have many Sikhs present. I’m not saying it’s okay for hate crimes to occur, but we come to gurdwara in a neighborhood where we don’t interact with or know the people. We make no effort to know them or let them know who we are.
That’s what we are trying to change. We’re not saying this will solve all of our problems. But what we do hope is the next time one of our neighbors can’t put food on the table s/he knows s/he can always find a meal at the gurdwara. We also hope when Sikhs need support our neighbors will stand by us. We know this isn’t the only way, but it is a way & it is effective. If you’ve got another idea let us know! We’d love to implement it with your help.
So now that you know the why, you have the option to read this and continue on with your daily life or actually help to make a
difference. Join us when we do this in a neighborhood near you!