For Sikhs, Reaching Out is No Easy Task

June 24, 2007

Author: Victoria Cheng

Source: The Boston Globe

The weather was warm and the chilled drinks were free, but some people in Somerville's Union Square still weren't buying.

Members of a local Sikh temple -- the women in vibrant tunics and some of the men in turbans -- had spread across the square last weekend to give away soft drinks and water to passersby and carloads of people stuck in construction traffic.

The responses ranged from a quick "No, thanks" to a skeptical "Nothing's free," and, most frequently, a curious "Free? But why?"

The drinks are distributed to commemorate the death of Guru Arjan Dev Ji, a Sikh spiritual teacher from the 17th century, said Satvir Kaur , who teaches Punjabi classes at the Sikh Sangat Society Boston temple in Somerville. "It's also a way to give back to the community and to raise awareness about the Sikh faith," she said.

Sikhs have been reaching out to Greater Boston for several years. But the puzzled reactions last weekend showed that many of their neighbors are still not acquainted with the religion.