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Sikh Group Welcomes Singaporean Influencer After Controversial Instagram Post

Singapore’s Young Sikh Association (YSA) has offered Sheena Phua an opportunity to learn more about the community’s culture after the influencer posted an insensitive Instagram story.

Last weekend, Sheena, who has 76,500 followers on the social media platform, shared a photo of two Sikh men in white turbans standing in front of her and blocking her view at the Singapore Grand Prix. The caption, which read “Dang! 2 huge obstructions decided to appear out of nowhere,” has sparked criticism with many users slamming the beauty and travel blogger for being “ignorant”, “racist” and “insensitive”.

Local musician Subhas Nair even uploaded a screenshot of the post on his Instagram page and tagged brands collaborating with Sheena, asking them if they “endorse[d] this?”.

After the public backlash, Sheena explained in a statement that by “obstruction” she was referring only to the height of the two Sikh men, and not their turbans. Nevertheless, she apologized for “the upset” her now-deleted story had caused.

In an unexpected turn of events, Sheena revealed on Sunday that she had received “a kind message” from the YSA, inviting her to their Gurdwaras. Believing that “actions speak louder than words,” the association members took the Instagramer to an informal tour around the temple, presenting their traditions, culture, and religion.

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My faith in humanity has been restored. Truth be told, it has been a rough week for me after what transpired. Amidst the many hate dms I received, it was really touching to receive a kind message from the Youth Sikh Association @ysa.sg, who reached out to me and invited me down to share my experiences and learn about their culture. YSA is a secular nonprofit organization with members consisting of youths from the Sikh community, but they welcome anyone to join. Their activites are not restricted to the Sikh community, and they organize cultural/charitable events for various groups in Singapore. They act as a platform for Sikh youths to gather and promote their culture to everyone! Yesterday, I headed down to the Central Sikh Gurdwara at Towner Road and met with Shaun, Diana and Ram from YSA. Some of their family members and friends came along as well. From the moment I first stepped into the temple, I had never felt more welcome. The YSA received us with open arms and we had a delightful exchange on our cultures over a meal (Langgar), as well as did some service (Sewa) in the form of food preparation. It was amazing to see how commumal the Sikhs were and apparently anyone is welcome into their temples anytime! We even got to take a look at the Sikhs holy scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib. Never once did I feel intimidated or awkward with YSA, and I realized that they really uphold the values of promoting harmony and strengthening ties. To top it all off, the Cha was amazing! This visit to the Gurdwara with the YSA was sobering and taught me so much about Sikh culture that I did not know before. It was a wholesome, genuine experience and let me feel the warmth of the Sikh community. I learnt that when going through a rough patch, hitting back is not always the way to go and that empathy will shine through in the end. One just needs to stay strong and positive, which the Sikhs term Chardikala. Will definitely be back and hope to work with YSA in the future! You guys should really check them out as they are open to working on almost anything, and will be more than glad to show you around 🙂 Chardikala!

A post shared by Sheena Phua (@sheenaphua) on

“My faith in humanity has been restored,” Sheena wrote.

“This visit to the Gurdwara with the YSA was sobering and taught me so much about Sikh culture that I did not know before.

It was a wholesome, genuine experience and let me feel the warmth of the Sikh community. I learnt that when going through a rough patch, hitting back is not always the way to go and that empathy will shine through in the end. One just needs to stay strong and positive, which the Sikhs term Chardikala.”

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Written by Deyana

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