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www.SanTanSun.com Downtown FROM PAGE 8


a spot or walk a block to the parking structure. It’s also beneficial for keeping the reservations on time. Prior to this, people were always late and very frustrated, which is not a great way to start your supposedly relaxing evening out to dinner.” Killgore says the Downtown Chandler


Community Partnership (DCCP) agreed to pay the valet company’s fees for the first 30 days “to enable them to collect data.”


“Then it is up to the business owners


to pay the fee if they want it to continue,” she adds, saying different locations are being tried out for the service.


New website With new stores and restaurants


coming soon and a lengthy list of events open to the public, downtown Chandler planners have created a website to keep patrons updated on current offerings and help visitors plan trips to the area. “We are very excited to introduce an online presence that echoes what we feel about the community – a friendly, relaxed environment that encourages community interaction,” says Jennifer Lindley, executive director of the DCCP. The site includes an interactive list of businesses, a community events calendar, merchant reviews, blog and breaking news about downtown issues. For more information, visit www.


downtownchandler.org. Miriam Van Scott is a former Kerby


Estates resident who can be reached at Miriam@SanTanSun.com.


JUST LIKE YOU: Dr. Sarv Khalsa does not typically wear a turban unless she is teaching a yoga class. Submitted photo


Community Intolerance FROM PAGE 1 The misconception is ironic when


one considers that the turban, or dastar, covering a Sikh’s unshorn hair represents honor and justice among adherents. Sikh males adopt the surname Singh, which means lion, and women use Kaur, meaning princess. The uniform naming system promotes tolerance and is in sharp contrast to rigid castes where names determine social status. Khalsa, who only wears a turban and


traditional Sikh clothing when teaching one of her Kundalini yoga classes, says life was tough as a child in Phoenix.


“I wore a turban all the time in grammar school, as


American Sikh women do. The other kids made fun of me almost every day. One time, a mean boy ripped it off my head. It made me cry.” Not long afterward, Khalsa’s parents, who converted to Sikhism through the spiritual teachings of Yogi Bhajan, sent her and her siblings to a Sikh boarding school in India. Khalsa didn’t return to America for eight years. During that time, she learned to embrace the tenets of the faith that values a life in balance, respect for women, tolerance of other beliefs and dietary restrictions. “Nothing that can walk away, run away, swim away or be born later,” says Khalsa of her diet.


Struggling for acknowledgement Determining the number of Sikhs in Arizona or the United


States is a challenge. Anyone who identifies him or herself as a Sikh is automatically coded Asian Indian even though it’s inaccurate. One organization, United Sikhs, is lobbying the U.S. Census


Bureau for their own code to “ensure the Sikh community can be correctly and justly enumerated.” Despite Sikhism being the world’s fifth largest religion with roughly 500,000 to 1 million followers in the U.S., most


When was the last time your child’s fever scheduled an appointment?


April 21 – May 4, 2012


Americans do not know what a Sikh is. This ignorance has led to suffering, the most notable example the 2001 murder of Mesa gas station owner Balbir Singh Sodhi by a man who wanted to “kill a Muslim” in retaliation for the 9/11 terrorist attacks the day before. Even after a decade of effort by the Sikh American Legal


Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF), harassment continues. Jas Winder Singh, a burly man with a black beard and


burgundy turban, kept pointing to his silver bracelets while helping cook an evening dinner at the Guru Nanak Dwara Ashram temple in Phoenix. “Look for these bracelets before you judge us for being Muslims,” he says adamantly. “Americans don’t understand the differences. We are not them. These bracelets keep us from doing anything bad. No stealing. No hurting anyone. We cannot do those things. Yet people still scream at me on the street to ‘go back to your country.’ They don’t even know where my country is.” Even less traditional Sikhs like Bakhshish Kaur witness


persecution. “Sometimes people, especially younger people, seem to


make fun of my father and mother,” she says, referring to her parents’ decision to wear traditional Sikh garb. Sikhs have struggled for proper acknowledgement by


government authorities as well. In April 2011, Arizona proposed a bill to remove Balbir Singh


Sodhi’s name from its 9/11 memorial, with the bill’s sponsor, state Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, claiming that Sodhi was “not a victim of 9/11.” A local and national outcry led to the bill’s veto by Gov. Jan


Brewer three days before it would have gone into effect. In spite of these challenges, local Sikhs remain positive


and bear no ill will toward the various groups who have misunderstood and wronged them. “Our main purpose is to spread love,” says Bakhshish Kaur.


“And there are many paths to that one purpose.” Cody Matera is a student at Arizona State University’s


Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, writing for class credit.


9


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