White House celebrates Guru Nanak’s birth anniversary

By Arun Kumar, IANS
Saturday, November 20, 2010

WASHINGTON - The White House celebrated Guru Nanak’s birth anniversary with US President Barack Obama, in a message of “best wishes”, lauding the “many contributions that Sikh Americans have made”.

The White House celebrated the event Friday - the second time since Obama came to power, two days before the Sunday anniversary when millions of Sikhs will be celebrating in their respective congregations in America and the world over.

President Barack Obama himself was not present at the event, but he said in a statement: “On Sunday, many around the world will observe the anniversary of birth of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the founder of Sikhism.

“I send my best wishes to all those observing this extraordinary occasion. This is also an opportunity to recognize the many contributions that Sikh Americans have made to our nation, and to reflect on the pluralism that is a hallmark of America.”

“Sikhism’s principles of equality, service, interfaith cooperation and respect are principles shared by all Americans. As Sikhs celebrate the birth of Guru Nanak, people of good will everywhere can identify with his teachings on the equality of all humankind and the need for compassion in our service to others.”

“President Obama has deep regards for the Sikh community and we are eager to work with you all,” said Christina M. Tchen, head of the White House office of Public Engagement, welcoming some 120 Sikh men in colourful turbans and women in traditional Punjabi dress from all over America.

The programme started with traditional kirtan with harmonium and tabla performed by Ragi Nirmal Singh Nagpuri, and Sukhjeevan Singh of the Golden Temple, Amritsar.

Kiran Ahuja, executive director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans, Indian-American actor Kalpen Modi, who is now associate director of the Public Engagement office, Aneesh Chopra, chief technology officer and Pradeep Ramamurthy of National Security Council were among those who joined the celebrations.

Rajwant Singh, chairman of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education (SCORE), thanked Obama “for this kind gesture of organizing this celebration and issuing a message to the entire Sikh community”.

“This is once again an acknowledgement of the Sikh community’s vibrant presence in America. Sikh youngsters are proud of their community’s recognition by the highest institution of the United States,” he said.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

Filed under: Religion

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