November 14, 2014 (Washington, DC) - On November 13, 2014, the White House organized a special community event to commemorate the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, founder of the Sikh religion. Simran Jeet Singh, the Sikh Coalition’s Senior Religion Fellow, delivered the keynote speech to nearly 100 community members and government representatives.
Click here to view photos from the event.
Click here to read Simran Jeet Singh’s keynote speech.
Click here to read President Obama’s statement.
The ceremony began with Ardaas (the Sikh daily prayer) and Gurbani (Sikh devotional hymns) as well as an instrumental performance by Sikh musicians.
During the policy discussions that followed, Congressman Mike Honda highlighted two letters signed by 30 Members of Congress calling on the federal government to strengthen measures to prevent school bullying. Rajdeep Singh of the Sikh Coalition, and Alice Yao from the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, also emphasized the importance of reporting bullying incidents to federal authorities, and highlighted the Punjabi Fact Sheet on Bullying released last month by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Tina Tchen, Chief of Staff for First Lady Michelle Obama, welcomed community members to the White House on behalf of the Obama Administration. Harpreet Singh Mokha delivered remarks on behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice Community Relations Service. Dr. Rajwant Singh from EcoSikh and Rucha Kavathe from United Sikhs spoke about climate change and health care access, respectively, and closing remarks for the ceremony were delivered by SALDEF’s Indira Kaur.
Throughout the ceremony, speakers and participants emphasized Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s teachings about equality, freedom, justice, and service – values that are central to the Sikh religion and also to the highest ideals of America.
The Sikh Coalition is grateful to the White House Office of Public Engagement, especially Ms. Ashley Allison, for welcoming the Sikh American community to the White House and, most of all, for publicly honoring the life and teachings of Guru Nanak Dev Ji.