Interfaith Profile on Sikhism with Hargobind Vohra, President of the Class of 2020

By Julia Ramsey || Staff Writer

Photo courtesy of Hargobind Vohra

This semester, Interfaith Student Council is focusing on a different religion each week, with the goal of increasing religious literacy and highlighting the role faith plays in students’ lives. Through this project, the ISC hopes to expand students’ understanding of the religious diversity at Franklin & Marshall and provide an opportunity for students to learn about the backgrounds and practices of their fellow peers.

This week, we are focusing on Sikhism. Look for flyers around campus with interesting facts about the religion! My student profile is Hargobind Vohra, who is President of the First-Year Class.

JR: How would you describe Sikhism to someone who’s never heard of it before?

HV: The Sikh religion was founded in Northern India in the 1400s by Guru Nanak. It’s a monotheistic religion that stresses equality between all humankind. Sikhism is about being humble and helping all those around you.  It’s a fairly “new” religion. 

JR: What do you think is commonly misunderstood about your religion?

HV: Sometimes it can be hard for people to distinguish different groups of people from the east.  Sikhism is distinctly separate from Hinduism and Islam. Some people think Sikhs are Muslim because I wear a turban. While it is true that some Muslims wear turbans, the majority of people in the United States wearing a turban are Sikhs. The turban is worn in many countries as a cultural dress, but to Sikhs, the turban is a powerful symbol of our faith and it keeps our long, uncut hair neat/clean. 

JR: What does being Sikh mean to you?

HV: For me, being a Sikh means showing honesty,  putting myself before others, and always helping anyone in need.  It means treating everyone with equal respect and love, irrespective of race, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity––just like God loves everyone.  Sikhism teaches one to better their community, be it through serving their country or helping at the local level.  Being involved in student government is a way I try to help those around me at F&M.     

JR: Is Sikhism compatible with other religions existing around you?

HV: Of course, Sikhism believes in respecting all other religions and even those who are non-religious. We believe that being Sikh is not the only way to become spiritual or one with God! Sikhs believe that there is only one God and God is the same for everyone––there are just different ways to mention God for different faiths.

Many times people think I’ll get offended if they come forward and ask me about my religion or what I believe. I urge anyone that has a question about my faith to not hesitate and simply ask me!

If anyone has questions about Interfaith Student Council or would like to get involved, please email ISC@fandm.edu. All are welcome!

Junior Julia Ramsey is a staff writer. Her email is jramsey@fandm.edu.

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