The Sikh Student Association is back

WSU club offers space to share North Indian Culture, unite Sikh students



The Sikh Student association ready to spread, bring awareness to Sikhism

CAROLYN MCCAMPBELL, Evergreen columnist

The Sikh Student Association has been reactivated and is planning on making a comeback. Amninder Singh Sekhon, the president of the SSA as well as other individuals, are working hard to integrate the SSA as a permanent fixture of student life at WSU.

“My goal is to culturally unite people and find Sikhs who are here, especially Sikhs who were born and brought up in the U.S. and those who don’t know about Sikhism,” Sekhon said.

The SSA’s main focus is to share North Indian Culture at WSU through educational, social, religious and intercultural programs, according to their Facebook page. They also want to foster an understanding of North Indian Culture regardless of race, religion or gender and promote equality and Sikh beliefs.

“Sikh men are often confused with Muslims because they both often have facial hair and wear turbans. Although Sikhism is a major world faith, … most people may not know much about this faith,” wrote Chuck Flagg of the Gilroy Dispatch.

There are about 30 million practicing Sikhs in the world, making it the fifth-largest religion on the planet, wrote Simran Jeet Singh from the Conversation

However, 60% of Americans reported knowing nothing about Sikhism or Sikh Americans, and only 11% reported knowing a Sikh individual, in a 2015 NBC News survey.

Sekhon said the word Sikh means “one who never stops learning.” The religion was started by Guru (spiritual teacher) Nanak, who was born in 1469 in the Punjab region of South Asia. Although he started the practice, nine other Gurus helped shape the religion that is known today. 

Sikhism is a monotheistic religion, and its three pillars are praying to God, working hard and sharing one’s earnings with their community, Sekhon said.

Sharing and community are very important to Sikhs, Sekhon said.

“With [COVID-19] in India, [Sikh temples] give free oxygen, …  so whatever is needed, they give it for free. I think that’s a big part of our community,” Sekhon said.

Turbans are also an important part of this religion and for Sikh identity, wrote Singh.

“In South Asian culture, wearing a turban typically indicated one’s social status – kings and rulers once wore turbans. The Sikh gurus adopted the turban, in part, to remind Sikhs that all humans are sovereign, royal and ultimately equal,” Singh wrote.

Sikhs honor the birth and death days of their 10 Gurus throughout the year, Sekhon said they also celebrate the day Sikhism was formed in 1699, known as Vaisakhi, on April 13.

Though they are not able to organize and hold their Vaisakhi night this April, they hope to host this event in Fall 2022.

In the past, the SSA held events such as the Henna Fundraiser in 2018, according to their Facebook page. This year they are looking forward to partnering with the Indian Student Association for their India night, where they will show a traditional folk dance.

The SSA meets from 5-7 p.m. every other Tuesday in the Compton Union Building, and they also go on outings to the local Sikh temple in Spokane. For more information, follow their Instagram @SSAWSU.