Every year on New Year’s Day the Pasadena Rose Parade hits the streets to showcase the history and culture of Southern California and the country at large. This year, for the first time ever, the parade hosted a float that celebrated the important and little-known history of Sikhs in America. In the midst of hate […]
Every year on New Year’s Day the Pasadena Rose Parade hits the streets to showcase the history and culture of Southern California and the country at large. This year, for the first time ever, the parade hosted a float that celebrated the important and little-known history of Sikhs in America. In the midst of hate crimes and verbal attacks, the float told another side of the roughly 125-year history of Sikhs in America. A collaboration of United Sikh Mission, SikhLens, Khalsa Care Foundation, SALDEF and a team of dedicated Sikhs around the country, the float aimed to raise awareness about Sikhism in America, both past and present.
“The theme of this year’s Rose Parade is inspiring American stories,” Rashpal Dhindsa, founder of United Sikh Mission told the Huffington Post. “That is why the Sikh American story was such a great fit for the parade organizers this year.”
The float was modeled after the Stockton Gurdwara, the first Sikh house of worship established in the United States 102 years ago, SALDEF said in a press release. Also included in the design was a cornucopia and a locomotive to represent Sikh laborers and farmers like Didar Singh Bains, known as the ‘Peach King of California’ for growing the largest number of peaches in the country.
The float, with 17,000 multicolored roses and 2,500 gerbera daisies, tells the story of the Sikhs’ 125 years in this country. At the top is a replica of the first gurdwara, or temple, constructed in the U.S. It was built in Stockton in 1912 by immigrants from Indian state of Punjab, where most Sikhs are from.
A railroad engine represents the Sikhs who came to this country to work on the railroads. The red tractor and the peaches, grapes, almonds, cantaloupes and green fields highlight the number of Sikhs in agriculture. On the side of the float are photographs of prominent Sikhs, including one of a man dressed as Captain America. The float design also features giant peaches — the country’s largest peach grower is a Sikh.
Standing on a platform at the front of the 55-foot-long float will be a Sikh serviceman and three police officers, jobs Sikhs still are fighting for because of their turbans and beards. Sitting on a park bench will be doctors, lawyers and Boy Scouts, showing that a turbaned Sikh can be the person next door. At the front, the float says, “Sikh American Journey” in red, white and blue. Another group has started the four-day Sikhlens Art and Film Festival with Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts in Orange, giving scholarships so students can make movies about Sikhs.
The float shows the public that Sikhs are Americans with deep roots in the US. We hope Sikhs will have a float in the Rose Parade every year till everyone knows who we are!
~ Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/