KAYSVILLE – Their population is four times that of the United States, they were the first to mine diamonds, they created things as diverse as chess and Yoga and one of their countrymen invented the Pentium chip.
This information about India, plus more about its land, its climate and its culture, was presented to students at Centennial Junior High during the school’s monthly multi-cultural activity last week.
Students learned about India’s ancient universities and modern technological prowess from PJ Singh, the father of two Centennial students. They learned about Sanskrit and about Bollywood. They learned about the dances, the foods and the religion PJ Singh practices as a Sikh.
Andrew Smalley was one of approximately 130 students in the audience during the presentation.
“I learned a lot,” said Smalley. “I didn’t know where Sanskrit started and I didn’t know about how they valued education in ancient times. I think the fundamental ideas of Sikhism are really cool.”
Those who practice the 500-year-old religion believe “God is one,” Singh told the students and parents who gathered at the after-school activity. They believe humans are equal, whether men or women, and follow three staples: to always remember God, to work hard and honestly, and to share what they have with the needy.
Sikhs are not Muslim, said Singh, though because of the turbans they wear to cover their uncut hair, there have been hate crimes against Sikhs in America since 9/11. It is part of the Sikh religion to leave hair uncut.
Simran Singh, PJ’s son, is a ninth-grader at Centennial. He said his fellow students have been “cool” about his heritage and religion. “They’re not disrespectful,” he said. “They just ask questions and I answer them.”
After the presentation, PJ helped students learn a few Indian dance steps while his family served the large crowd chicken tikki masala, naan bread, mango lassi, and other Indian dishes. He serves similar dishes in his three Taste of India restaurants.
“It’s nice that everyone gets to know a little bit more about India,” said Simran.