April 29, 2014 (Washington, DC) – Last Friday, for the first time in American history, the Office of the Pentagon Chaplain commemorated Vaisakhi, one of the most religiously significant days in the Sikh tradition.
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The solemn ceremony took place in the Pentagon’s chapel in front of an interfaith gathering consisting of military leaders, congressional staffers, service members and Pentagon civilian employees. After introductory remarks by Pentagon Chaplain Col. Thomas C. Waynick, Major Kamaljeet Singh Kalsi, and Corporal Simran Preet Singh Lamba, a Ragi Jatha (group of hymn singers) recited a Shabad (devotional hymn) by Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th Sikh Guru:
Manas ki jaat sabhe ekai pechaanbo
Recognize the human race as one
Sikh community leader Inni Kaur then gave a powerful summary of Sikh theology and its emphasis on upholding equality and justice for all people, regardless of who they are.
After Ardaas (Sikh congregational prayer) led by Major Kalsi, community activist Valarie Kaur explained its significance and emphasized that Sikhs throughout the world pray daily for Chardi Kala (boundless optimism) and Sarbat Da Bhalla (the well being of humanity).
The Sikh Coalition is grateful to the Office of the Pentagon Chaplain, including Chaplain Col. Waynick, Chaplain Lt. Col. Wayne Brittian, and Sgt. Latoral Johnson, for organizing this historic event and to all participants for making it a day to remember. The Sikh Coalition will continue to build awareness and appreciation of Sikh traditions in all walks of American life so that Sikh Americans face no limits, no matter what career they choose to pursue.