Sikhs to celebrate Valentine’s Day by delivering sweets to women’s shelters

LARISSA CAHUTE
VANCOUVER DESI

One Billion Rising

One Billion Rising is described as a ‘global strike’ on violence perpetrated against women. Submitted graphic

Sikhs across the Lower Mainland will be joining One Billion Rising in a day of action to fight violence against women this Valentine’s Day.

“It’s an important cause,” World Sikh Organization of Canada’s executive director Sukhvinder Kaur Vinning said. “One Billion Rising is about bringing awareness to the fact that one in three women on this planet will be beaten or raped in their lifetime.”

“That’s over 33 per cent and that’s over a billion women and that’s not an acceptable amount — zero is.”

One Billion Rising is “a global strike” inviting men and women everywhere to “walk out, dance, rise up and demand an end to this violence,” on Feb. 14, according to onebillionrising.org.

“One Billion Rising sort of had the artistic route through flash dances, music and theatre,” said Vinning. “But they also did call out for services and they asked people to organize themselves and to serve women in shelters that day and that really spoke to us as Sikhs.”

So Sikhs will be baking or buying treats and Surrey’s Guru Nanak gurdwara’s free kitchen and the World Sikh Organization of Canada will deliver them to local women’s shelters on Thursday.

While there’s been a ripple effect throughout the Indo-Canadian community to battle violence against women, Sikhs are stepping up because “service is a huge part of our faith,” said Vinning.

“Yes in the media there has been the awareness — there’s what’s happened in India,” Vinning said, referencing the fatal gang rape of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student on a moving bus in New Delhi last December. “But on a day-to-day basis, as Sikhs that hasn’t changed our mandate to serve and we still continue to serve.”

Offering their help to One Billion Rising goes hand-in-hand with the Sikh tradition of Langar, “which is one of our ways we serve,” said Vinning.

Langar dates back to a Guru Nanak teaching “that it’s really hard to work on self development and improve ourselves … when we’re hungry,” described Vinning. “So if we deal with our hunger first we are then able to give thought to other parts of our lives when the necessity of hunger is taken care of.”

“(So) in the tradition of Langar we just adapted that and we thought we’d gather up food and we’d take it then as care packages to the various shelters.”

Eight gurdwaras have stepped up to help, along with families across the Lower Mainland. Bouquets of flowers and Valentine’s cards are also being donated.

“It’s important for us to serve unconditionally and to serve all,” said Vinning. “(And) it’s Valentine’s Day – well, it’s a tough time, I think, for people.”

“We wanted something to brighten their day.”

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