For the Holidays, County Sikhs Meld Religious Celebrations With Christmas Traditions

December 23, 2009

Author: Erin Donaghue

Source: The Gazette

To tree or not to tree? It's only one of the many dilemmas county Sikhs are faced with around the holiday season. And for followers of the faith, there seems to be just as many approaches to melding their own traditions with the Santas, reindeer, presents and elves that are pervasive in the communities in which they live.

For Sikh families in the county, many of whom worship at the Guru Gobind Singh Foundation in North Potomac, navigating the holiday season often means celebrating different traditions from multiple cultures — though no one family navigates the cultural divide in quite the same way.

"In the beginning it was like, ‘OK, when in Rome,'" said Burtonsville resident Gagan Narang. Born in India, Narang worships with her family at the Guru Gobind Singh Foundation. Though the family doesn't celebrate Christmas, Narang said that she used to put up a Christmas tree when her children — now 20, 18 and 15 — were young. "It's all the marketing," she added. "There's a lot of pressure on the kids and they want presents, so it's easy to get swayed."

Now that her children are older and have learned more about their cultural heritage, she said, a bit of the pressure has been alleviated. For now, the Christmas tree is sitting in her basement. But she still enjoys giving small gifts around the holidays and attending Christmas parties at the homes of her Christian friends. "Time is too short — why not take every excuse to celebrate?" she said.