Harmanjit Kaur Punjab, India I am not sure what I would like to do with my life right now, with my job. I am trained as a pharmacist’s assistant, but I am having trouble finding a job. I get the interview over the phone but when I arrive and they see that I look different, that I wear the traditional turban, and they tell me that there is nothing available right now. Ideally I wish I could do something in my life that would help people understand who I am, understand the Sikh culture. I think if people were familiar with the true meaning of Sikhism we would not see the kind of discrimination that exists in India and in the United States. There are so many misconceptions. In Sikhism wearing the turban is a fundamental practice as well as not cutting the hair. Some Americans associate the turban with terrorists such as Osama bin Laden. We are not Arab, Muslim or Hindu. Sikhism is based on religious tolerance; it seeks to accept all religions. Sikhs never try to convert anyone. People are encouraged to be faithful to God, to live according to their own faith regardless of what that is. The first Sikh guru Nanak fought against the caste system in India. His idea was to eliminate discrimination based on family name by giving all Sikh men the last name Singh which means “lion” and all women have the name Kaur which means “princess.” He also said that women and men should be treated equally. Five hundred years ago the Guru said “You are my beloved princesses, my daughters. You must be respected. How can this world be without you?” Our temple is called a “Gudwara.” As a symbol of equality women and men prepare food together in a central kitchen there and then everyone sits down on the floor and eats together. My mother would also like me to tell you about the terrible conflict in India in 1984. The Golden Temple, the Sikhs holiest place was attacked by government troops in an attempt to capture certain leaders thought to be terrorists by the state. In the process thousands of Sikhs were killed. A few years later Indira Ghandi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards and the backlash against all Sikhs was terrible and violent. By the grace God our family was in Punjab, away from the worst violence but my father was in Delhi and had to go into hiding. He hid for six days until his friends convinced him to disguise himself by cutting his hair and beard and removing his turban. In the years that followed life in India became more and more difficult for Sikhs. I am the sort of person though who does not want to think about the violent conflicts in Punjab. I get too upset, I try to forget. My mother insists I read about our history because she says it is a part of our life-story. She says you have to remember the past in order to survive, to move forward. But when I think about the injustice that has taken place it always makes me cry.