Obama Itinerary Change Sets off Speculation Among Bay Area Sikhs
First came reports that he was going to visit the Golden Temple, the holiest of Sikh shrines, in Amritsar. Then the White House announced that that was off the itinerary, leading to much speculation in Punjabi media like the Amritsar Times and Sade Lok.
Bay Area Sikhs say they are especially disappointed since the California Assembly has designated November Sikh Awareness Month.
Sukirat Kaur, a junior at James Logan High School in Union City, was amused at media reports that the decision may have had to do with the requirement that all visitors to the temple cover their head with a cloth or scarf. Some speculated that Obama was worried that pictures of him with his head covered would feed into rumors that he was a Muslim. Many Sikhs believe they have been targeted in hate crimes since 9/11 precisely because people conflate the traditional turban and beard worn by Sikh men with that of Osama bin Laden.
But Dalip Singh, a Bay Area classical music teacher, notes that non-Sikhs may wear a cap or hat to enter the temple, according to the head priest of the Akal Takht, the Sikh religious authority.