(CNN) — Rajinder Singh became an internet sensation this year as the “Skipping Sikh,” inspiring people to stay active during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.
Now, the 74-year-old has transformed into the “Skipping Sikh Santa,” bringing smiles to people’s faces in an otherwise tough holiday season.
Singh, who lives in Middlesex in the United Kingdom, already had Santa’s signature white beard. So, he donned a red suit, ditched the stocking cap and kept the turban — a symbol of his Sikh faith.
Then he went out to spread Christmas cheer.
As the “Skipping Sikh Santa,” Singh has been delivering gifts to young people who might have had to experience this Christmas without a present under the tree. That’s despite the fact that he doesn’t personally celebrate Christmas.
The week of Christmas is typically a time of mourning for Sikhs, commemorating the martyrdom of their tenth Guru’s four sons. But Singh’s faith also teaches him to practice selfless service, which is why he wants to bring joy to those who do celebrate Christmas.
“I (want to) do anything that I can to make other people happy and help them in any way,” Singh told CNN. “That’s why I can’t give up until my last breath.”
The idea came from his daughter
The inspiration to dress up as Santa came from Singh’s daughter, Minreet Kaur. Kaur watched her father skyrocket to internet fame after she posted a video of him skipping rope.
Singh’s workout routines inspired countless others to stay fit during the coronavirus lockdowns and garnered a large social media following. He went on to raise £14,000 for the UK’s National Health Service, an effort that earned him an award from the Queen.
Recognizing that the pandemic had made this Christmas season a difficult time for many people, Kaur said she suggested to her father that he dress up as Santa to do more good.
“The idea was, ‘Let’s come back in December as a Skipping Sikh Santa and just spread some cheer and joy and send smiles and positive vibes to end the year,'” Kaur said.
Singh was on board. If he could make some children smile, it would all be worth it, he said.
With the help of his family, Singh partnered with a local school and the Hounslow Christmas Project, which aims to ensure that no child goes without a gift. Their goal was to work with charitable organizations that didn’t receive high volumes of donations.
The company Jump Rope UK donated dozens of ropes to the cause, while Singh’s family pitched in with donations of more ropes, chocolates and DVDs.
And the “Skipping Sikh Santa” was a success.
Singh has been recognized for his service by some of the UK’s top leaders, even getting a Christmas card from Prime Minister Boris Johnson. He says he’s surprised and humbled by all the messages he’s received.
But he’s not after recognition. What he really wants is to help others get through this challenging year with a smile.
“I’m very thankful to all the people around the world,” Singh said. “God bless them, keep them happy and (help them try) to look after others.”
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