East met West yesterday at Carson High School's football field where about 200 members of the Northern Nevada Sikh Society gathered for their fourth annual Sports Day.
Small groups of women in traditional Indian saris gathered in the shade while the young ones chased each other and climbed the bleachers in T-shirts adorned with the American flag. They paused as the first race, a 20-meter sprint for those 6 and under, began.
The competition was fierce and it was hard to tell who enjoyed it more, the kids or those watching from the sidelines. It was over in seconds as the children, faces glowing, crossed the finish line and landed in their father's arms.
Kanwalrsop Singh Brar, a 19-year-old computer science major at the University of Nevada, Reno was among those offering encouragement.
"We're here to show love for our community," he said. "We are here for each other."
Lakshmi Kaur Virk, who moved here from India just three months ago, said this type of event is common in India. She feels it's important because it promotes balance in the kids' lives.
"One should be practical in life," she said. "Children need more than books and studies."
Centered primarily in northern India the Sikhs, a 500-year-old religious sect, are a minority in their own country, comprising about 2 percent to 3 percent of the population.
Traditionally, they don't cut their hair and even in Carson some donned the more traditional beards and turbans. Others have adopted American ways and if there is any doubt that the American dream is alive and well, one only need ask these people. They echoed the theme heard in this country for more than 200 years: America means freedom and opportunity.
"Here are good schools for our children, some of the best in the world, and the best of living conditions," said one member of the group as others around him nodded in assent. "Law, not politics, prevails here."
Amarjeet Singh Virk, a teacher with a master's degree in sociology and history has been in this country just three months.
"People are doing here what they couldn't have done back home," he said. "People who work hard can succeed here and we, as Sikhs, are hard-working people."
The event is sponsored by the Sikh Temple of Reno and includes wrestling, weight lifting, volleyball and a quarter-mile race. Mayor Ray Masayko attended, helping with the prizes at the end of the day.