Pargat and Lovepreet's story
I think the main type of racism is when you are made to feel inferior because you were not born here. When you are not born here, people don’t really know or understand your culture.
Our community is suffering on a wide scale from this type of racism. Our whole community is suffering because the majority of people don’t know anything about Sikhism. They see the turban and they don’t know what it is. They think it’s wrong and it’s not normal. There is nothing wrong with wearing a turban. It‘s something natural to us, because our people have been wearing the turban for centuries.
We don’t want to wear the turban anymore because we get bullied. I don’t wear it anymore. I stopped wearing the turban at school so that I could have friends. I had no friends but when I stopped wearing the turban, I had friends. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy to have friends, but I always wanted my culture and my religion as well. I remember when I came home from school and asked my mother and father if I could stop wearing the turban and cut my hair. My father said that was the saddest day in his life.
No one wants to forget their religion or their culture. Religion is a choice, but culture is a must. You inherit that. I want to protect the next generation from the suffering I’ve had to endure. When you bully someone at school, you might be preventing the bright future of the nation from even going to school. I am lucky because my experience enabled me to see how important it is to share your culture and to let others know who you are. That’s why I am doing this, because I want you to know who we are. I think all the problems will be solved if we can just get to know each other.
We are Sikh. Sikhism is a warrior religion used to protect people from attack, not for aggression, but for protection, for helping others. We are the friend, the strong person, always doing for others, for the community; we protect the one who can’t protect himself. Every morning and every night we pray for everyone, for all people. We see no difference in race, religion, or gender; we are all the same.
Our Golden Temple is in the shape of a square, with one door each side of the square, each door is meant to welcome a different religion, so that all religions are welcome to enter. We don’t say come and be who we are; the most important part of being who we are means accepting all, but so often we hear people say you weren’t born here, you don’t belong. This is very hurtful to us, because everything we believe in is about all people belonging. Our roots are strong, and we only ask to be treated as normal, as we would treat you. It is the nature of our inheritance, our culture, our religion, to be accepting of others.
Pargat and Lovepreet
You can see Lovepreet and his family images at Laverton Community Hub, Altona Library and Altona Meadows Library