True, both Los Angeles and the Bay Area are homes to very dense Punjabi, Sikh populations, but what is it about Fresno that makes the people come in the dozens for Sikh based events? While the bhangra revolution of the late 1990’s was taking over big cities with the introduction of Dhol Di Awaz, and Bruin Bhangra, a different revolution was taking place in Fresno.
Whereas traditional Sikh camps consisted of an “elderly” voice in the room, telling students what to do, Jakara introduced a peer learning experience with the introductions of moderators. This approach took the class room experience of traditional conferences away, and implemented a environment similar to that of an informal discussion. Young Sikhs were no longer intimidated to attend conferences Rather, they were intrigued to meet young Sikhs just like them, that may not possess all the answers, but that were willing to struggle through tough discussions with them.
Lalkaar, formerly known as The Jakara Conference, created new innovative ways to keep young Sikhs engaged with Sikhi. This was because the ideas were coming straight from the youth. Lalkaar led to the Jakara Junior camps, and the more recent introduction of The Sikhi Honors and Service Society, The Jakara Movement Clubs, and our high school Conference, Nishaan.
So, next time someone makes the argument that Sikhi flourishes in Fresno because the topography is similar to that of Punjab. Let them know that the evolution didn’t happen overnight, it’s been 17 years in the making.