WEST ORANGE, NJ - Nearly 1,500 members of the tri-state Sikh community gathered at West Orange High School on July 27 and 28 to participate in various sports tournaments, network and enjoy time with each other. This was the twenty-fifth year of the Annual Sikh Sports Meet and the seventh year it was held at the high school. It seemed fitting to hold the tournament in a community as diverse as West Orange. Karmjit Sidhu and Sonny Thapar helped to organize and spearhead the event, and Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula (District 17, Middlesex County), was also on hand to support the tournament.
Sikh temples, or gurdwaras ('entrance to the temple') from across New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania participated in the meet, which was comprised of soccer, basketball and vollyeball tournaments over a two day period. Teams participated through their temples and extended family members came out to support them and spend time with fellow Sikhs. Over 700 participants attended each of the two days. West Orange itself does not have a Sikh temple and the majority of New Jersey participants were from temples located in Glen Rock, Carteret, and Jersey City. Many participants came from New York and Pennsylvania.
Karmjit Sidhu, one of the event organizers, explained that most of the Sikhs participating in the tournament were from the Punjab ('Land of Five Rivers') region of Northern India. While the children, teens, and young adults were decidedly Americanized, most of their parents were from India. Holding a tournament like this helps to preserve tradition, build a sense of community within the Sikh population in the area, and connect the 'old with the new'. Sonny Thapar, another event organizer, explained that many of the Sikh communities present were similar to Scottish 'clans' and that the tournament atmosphere was a wonderful way to provide a setting for the 'clans' to gather.
There are approximately 20 million Sikhs worldwide. It is the fifth largest religion in the world and has been in existence for 500 years. Sikhism
is monotheistic and ascribes to several non-negotiable tenets, including service, love, and equality.