Photos: Sikhs in Barcelona

Guests in Punjab are like representatives sent by God. For this reason, Sikh Temples, or Gurudwaras, leave doors open for everyone independent of their faith or nationality. Guests to a temple are served food and even offered a place to stay in the temple, if they’re in need. Hospitality is a guiding principle of the Sikh faith.

Still, I was nervous to go in. I was afraid of overstepping boundaries or committing some atrocious faux-pas in this sacred place of worship. But Jasleen Karir, my good friend and translator, calmed my nerves.

“I’m very happy to have been born into Sihkism because it’s so focused on community and humanity,” she told me as we took off our shoes and socks before entering the Sikh Gurudwara Gurdarshan Sahib Ji in Barcelona.

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Stories like my father’s

Plenty of things forced my father to leave Mexico. He was born in an adobe home into a poor family in Mexico, the eldest of seven children. He was charged at age 10 with providing for the family alongside my grandfather so he dropped elementary school and picked fields instead. He sold candy and shined shoes in the park in worn out second-hand sneakers.

My father decided to hop on a freight train, leave his family, his home, and all that was familiar to him behind in Mexico to emigrate to the United States. He was afraid, he says, not just of the perilous journey but also of his arrival and the new world that awaited him on the other side of the border, ‘en el otro lado.’ But he got on the train anyway, on the side of a grain car precariously positioned above the steel wheels on the rails because he needed to get to the other side, desperately.

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