Manteca celebrated the Sikh faith Sunday.
And just like the Holy Ghost celebration staged every summer by Manteca’s two active Portuguese groups — the Manteca Ripon Pentecost Society (MRPS) as well as the Festa do Espiritu Santo de Mantaca (FESM) — it includes honoring God and giving thanks, a procession through the community, and serving free meals to all comers
The two-day celebration at the Sikhs of Manteca Temple on Woodward Avenue and Airport Way drew more than 8,000 people Saturday and Sunday. It marked the 550th anniversary birth of the first Sikh Guru Nanak Dev Ji.
There are upwards of 800,000 Sikhs living in the United States with many having ties to the Punjabi region of India. It is estimated about half of the Sikh population resides in California with the largest concentration in the Central Valley.
The Sikhs have been part of the fabric of California for over 130 years.
Sikhs started arriving in the Golden State in the late 19th century. About 115 years ago there was the start of a surge of immigrants with many ending up in Yuba City after they helped build the Western Pacific Railway along the Feather River Canyon and over the Sierra to connect California with Salt Lake City that helped break the Southern Pacific’s PG&E-style stranglehold on the Northern California economy.
If you go down the valley all the way to Bakersfield you will find farmers that are Sikhs as well as professionals, store owners, truck drivers and more just like every other walk of life.
The founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak (1469-1539), taught that under God men and women, poor and rich, all races and faiths are equal. Sikhism stresses service to others and honesty.
There are 27 million Sikhs worldwide that strive to conquer “the five thieves” delineated as lust, rage, greed, attachment, and ego. They work to strive to intertwine their secular lives with their spirituality.
When it comes to striving for equality, the Sikh record is impeccable. At great cost in India they battled the caste system and pushed for equality for women.
Sikhs are not outsiders. They are Americans through and through and are no different than you and I even though we may by Christian, Muslim, Agnostic, Atheist, or whatever.
California is not, never was, and never will be identified with one ethnic group, one religious, or one race.
You can make an argument that it was the clash and subsequent meshing for the most part of various cultures, ethnic groups, races, and religions on a scale much more intense and grand than the United States as a whole that gave birth to modern-day California.
Sikhs are productive and contributing members of American society. They have peacefully practiced their religion in San Joaquin County for over ```````a century with their Stockton temple marking its 107th anniversary this year.
Although we may belong to different faiths and ethnic backgrounds are all Americans.
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