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Commentary: My Dinner With Sikhs

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, April 15, 2011

My first surprise was the neat pile of shoes at the doorway. The family does not wear shoes indoors, so I shed mine too and sat down to learn about Sikhism.

The religion, my hosts explained, was born in the Punjab region of India in the 15th Century. Sikhs rejected the rigid Hindu caste system. They believe in one God, and the equality of all people regardless of race, status or gender.

Besides the turban, male Sikhs carry a miniature curved sword that signifies they are defenders of the weak. All Sikhs wear a bracelet which serves as a constant reminder to do God's work.

Our meal was vegetarian and Indian. A potato mixture wrapped in dough and deep-fried, cauliflower and garbanzo bean casseroles, fresh salad, rice, flat bread and homemade yogurt. And for desert, rice pudding and fresh fruit - delicious.

The Sikhs I met that evening included a truck driver and small business owner, a teacher, a lawyer, a government worker and stay at home moms.

I left thinking how American they seemed: friendly, family focused and hard working, and, sadly, that it took a tragedy, the senseless attack on two innocent grandfathers, for this dinner to take place.


Ginger Rutland writes for The Sacramento Bee opinion pages.

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