Benedictine University to host Sikh harvest festival to help raise awareness about culture
Beards, turbans and other traditional garb many Sikh Americans wear at times make them easy targets of hate crimes, says Manmohan Kaur of Naperville.
In 2019, law enforcement agencies nationwide reported 8,812 victims of hate crimes. Of 1,715 victims of anti-religious hate crimes, 3.5% were of anti-Sikh bias, according to the FBI's most recent statistics.
The rise in hate crimes against her Sikh community prompted Kaur, a professor of mathematics at Benedictine University in Lisle, to apply for a grant from Interfaith America to promote healing.
With the funding, Benedictine University's South Asian Student Association is hosting a traditional Sikh Harvest Festival featuring performers, a Bhangra dance workshop and food from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. April 21. It is open to community members.
Vaisakhi, the Sikh New Year festival, is celebrated around this time in April. That's when farmers in northern India harvest their crops.
The event will be held in the lobby of the Daniel L. Goodwin Hall of Business, or outdoors in the quad if the weather is good.
"We'll have a turban-tying demonstration," said Kaur, adviser of the student association. "We are hoping to bring a performer ... someone with a Punjabi dhol (double-sided barrel drum)."
The goal is to spread awareness of Sikhism, said Kaur, adding, "if we don't tell our story, then somebody else is going to tell our story."
In August 2019, Gov. J.B. Pritzker declared April as Illinois Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month.
Sikhism is the fifth-largest religion in the world. It was founded in 1469 by Guru Nanak in the Punjab region of the Indian subcontinent. The tenth successor, Guru Gobind Singh, formalized its practices in 1699. Key principles of the faith include social equality, truthful living, service to humanity, and devotion to God.
Today, there are more than 30 million Sikhs worldwide, including 500,000 in the U.S. and 25,000 in Illinois, according to the Sikh Coalition.
The United Punjabis of America will celebrate a Vaisakhi Mela from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday at Mall of India, 776 S. Route 59 in Naperville.
Vaisakhi signifies the Punjabi new year and festival of harvest.
The mela, or fair, will include live entertainment, group dances, authentic Punjabi food, and vendor stalls selling jewelry, decorative items, paintings, and other wares. Admission is free.
Hate crimes commission
The Illinois Commission on Discrimination and Hate Crimes has released its inaugural report for 2021.
The commission, initially created in 2005, has been dormant for a decade. It was relaunched to address the rise of hate crimes in Illinois.
It is made up of experts and thought leaders from across the state who reflect a diversity of perspectives, racial backgrounds, abilities, religions, gender identities and sexual orientations.
Sponsor an iftar
Viator House of Hospitality, which in Des Plaines houses 24 young immigrant men of whom nearly half are Muslims, is seeking donors to sponsor iftars, or fast-breaking meals, for them during Ramadan.
Viator House offers housing, food, clothing, case management, and spiritual support to young asylum-seekers. It has been providing Ramadan meals to these refugees for a couple of years.
To donate money and/or a hot meal, sign up here, m.signupgenius.com/#!/showSignUp/10c0449aeaa29a1f58-ramadan1.
An exhibit on Hindu civilization will debut Saturday at the Fox Valley Mall in Aurora.
Indian American groups from Aurora and Naperville are organizing the exhibit titled "Darshana: A Glimpse into Hindu Civilization." Its goal is to increase awareness about Hindu traditions, culture and contributions to local communities.
The traveling exhibit has been featured nationwide. It will be open from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Aurora mall, 195 Fox Valley Center Drive.
For details, visit hindudarshana.com.
Gifts for refugees
The Syrian Community Network is seeking individuals, families or community groups to purchase Eid gifts for refugee and immigrant families with children.
Eid is the celebration at the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan observed by Muslims worldwide.
Sponsors will be assigned children and families, spending a minimum of $25 and no more than $35 per child to purchase gifts (no clothing) to be delivered to the families between April 29 and May 1.
Libraries nationwide faced an unprecedented number of attempts to ban books, according to the American Library Association's 2022 State of America's Libraries Report.
The Chicago-based association's Office for Intellectual Freedom tracked 729 challenges to library, school and university materials and services in 2021. More than 1,597 books were challenged or removed from libraries for a variety of reasons, including sexually explicit content, profanity, violence, promoting an anti-police message, being degrading to women, depictions of abuse/sexual abuse and sex education. Books most targeted were by or about Black or LGBTQIA+ people.
"The 729 challenges tracked by ALA represent the highest number of attempted book bans since we began compiling these lists 20 years ago," ALA President Patricia Wong said.
In response to the uptick in book challenges, the association is launching Unite Against Book Bans, a national initiative focused on empowering readers to fight against censorship. For more information, visit uniteagainstbookbans.org.
2021's most challenged books
•"Gender Queer" by Maia Kobabe
•"Lawn Boy" by Jonathan Evison
•"All Boys Aren't Blue" by George M. Johnson
•"Out of Darkness" by Ashley Hope Perez
•"The Hate U Give" by Angie Thomas
•"The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" by Sherman Alexie
•"Me and Earl and the Dying Girl" by Jesse Andrews
•"The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison
•"This Book is Gay" by Juno Dawson
•"Beyond Magenta" by Susan Kuklin
• Share stories, news and happenings from the suburban mosaic at firstname.lastname@example.org.