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Public Presentation on Sikh Dharma


PRESENTATIONS ON SIKH DHARMA

Though we never proselytize, we are faced with many opportunities to present Sikh Dharma to others. You may be invited to speak at an Interfaith gathering, to make a presentation to a group of school children, or to a group visiting a Gurdwara. This can be fun and inspiring for you as well as the group you are speaking to. Our Dharma has so many unique aspects to it. These opportunities are wonderful for reaching hearts and uplifting people by introducing them to the concept of living a healthy, happy and holistic life. Everyone walks away with hints on how to make his/her own life a bit more full, a bit more connected. Here are some tips on how to approach such a presentation, with ideas on some of the topics to cover. This is by no means all-inclusive. It is meant to be just a mind-stimulator, and confidence builder.

First and foremost is to understand your audience and the context of your invitation. Do not hesitate to get a detailed demographic of who the audience will be. Find out the age span, the religious background. For instance, you would talk differently to 8 year olds than to even 14 year olds; and a group of Christians as opposed to a group of New Agers. Also understand why they are inviting you. Is it an anti-racist context, or an interfaith sharing, or part of a university course? Don’t be shy to find out what they expect of you. Also find out if you are the only speaker or part of a series of speakers. For example, is it you and Mr. Singh, President of the local Gurdwara? This can be interestingly uncomfortable if you have not made some sort of connection with the other speakers to find out what they are covering, what their emphasis will be, for how long they will be speaking. Determine who will go first.

In general the most successful format is a participatory one. The following works well: Begin by asking some kind of question of the audience. For instance, if they are children, ask something simple like, "How many of you have seen people with turbans?" Anything, really. You might ask a university class what other religions they have studied. Any questions help to set the style of dialoguing rather than of lecturing. Then speak for a while, covering some topics that you may consider vital. (Some ideas are below). Then open up for questions. This is the most dynamic part of the presentation. If you have just a prepared lecture, certain things might not get through, and you might lose your audience. When the questions and answers start, you really find out what’s on the listener’s mind. You can keep the discussion on track by guiding the discussion towards items you want to cover. Be creative.

Following are some important topics to cover:
  • The monotheistic nature of our Dharma
  • Some of the similarities between our Dharma and other religions
  • The unique qualities:
  • Turban and hair (and other K’s)
  • The importance of the connection between the physical body as a temple in serving the spirit. Here you can cover dietary habits including no meat, tobacco, alcohol, etc.
  • The importance of meditation in one’s life
  • the concept of the Guru (we bow to no man or woman)
  • How Sikhs accept all religions
  • Equality of all (men/women, rich/poor etc.)
  • Concept of lungar
  • Ceremonies (Akhand Paath, etc.)
  • Concept of reincarnation
  • Some history (to show context of Sikh Dharma and how young it is)
  • Do not hesitate to use your personal experiences (you will inevitably be asked why you became a Sikh.)
  • Respect for women
  • Concept of marriage (arranged marriages vs. dating). This is one of my favourite topics and a must if you are speaking to young people.

This gives you some ideas. Frankly, it is the impression the participants receive from connecting with you that is the most powerful statement you will make, and which will stay with them for years to come. Be yourself and speak from your heart.


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