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Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels visits Indianapolis Gurdwara

Indianapolis, Oct. 23, 2008
Kanwal Prakash “KP” Singh


The Hoosier Sikh American community gave Honorable Mitch Daniels, Governor, State of Indiana, U.S.A., a very warm welcome and reception with resounding Jakaras (spirited Sikh religious acclamations) and spontaneous shouts of Sut Siri Akals (a universal Sikh greeting: Lord’s Name is Eternal Truth) last Sunday at the Sikh Temple in Indianapolis. The Indiana Governor was paying a historic visit to The Sikh Temple (Acton Road) on the sacred occasion marking the landmark Tercentenary Commemorations of the Ordination of Sri Guru Granth Sahib as the Eternal Guru of the Sikhs at Nanded, Maharashtra, India on October 7, 1708 A.D.

A large banner welcoming Governor Mitch Daniels, American flags, and a banner announcing the Guru Granth Sahib GurGuddi Diwas added festive environment to the Temple Complex. Governor Daniels was received and greeted at the Temple entrance by the members of Executive Committee of Sikh Satsang of Indianapolis, Trustees other community leaders, and young children waving American flags.

Dr. Juana Watson, Governor Mitch Daniels’ Senior Advisor for Latino and Immigrant Affairs, joined in the special celebrations marking the occasion. Governor Daniels and Dr. Juana Watson briefly met with a few Sikh community leaders and sevaks (dedicated volunteers) in the Gurdwara Library before the Governor and Dr. Watson were lead into the packed Diwan Hall (Congregation Sanctuary) on the main floor. The Governor greeted the audience with folded hands and paid his respects to Sri Guru Granth Sahib before sitting down.

Governor Daniels issued a special Proclamation designating October 20, 2008 as “Sri Guru Granth Sahib Day” in Indiana. The historic Proclamation was read to the enthusiastic congregation of over 250 Hoosier Sikhs and people of other faith traditions, from around the State who had joined in to witness and participate in the historic celebrations, by Dr. Juana Watson on behalf of Governor Mitch Daniels.

Jasvir Singh Lalli, President, Sikh Satsang of Indianapolis welcomed the Governor and Dr. Juana Watson to the Sikh Temple. KP Singh, a long-time resident of Indiana, in his remarks summarized the importance of Governor Daniels’ visit, first by any Governor to a Sikh Temple in the last 41 years, and highlighted a few spiritual traditions, ceremonial distinctions, guiding principles, and sacred commandments of the Sikh faith. KP emphasized the spirit of Unity, Universality, Oneness of One Supreme Creator, Brotherhood of Man, Equality, Human Dignity, and Justice for all, and the sanctity of all faiths traditions and spiritual traditions is reverentially enshrined in the Sacred Sikh Scriptures and an integral part of Sikh history and tradition. KP thanked the Governor and Dr. Watson on behalf of the Sikh Satsang and all present for the distinct honor of their presence with the Hoosier Sikh community at this time of joyous worldwide celebrations of the Historic Sikh Tercentenary Commemorations of Sri Guru Granth Sahib as the Eternal Guru of the Sikhs.

Ragi Jatha (Religious Musicians) lead by Bhai Sewa Singh from New Delhi gave beautiful renditions of the sacred hymns: “Chatur Disa Keeno Balu Aapna: Lord Your Power and Glory extends in every direction and dimension” in the beginning and “Tu Thakur Tum Payee Ardas: You are the Lord Master and unto You we pray” at the end of the formal presentations. Governor Daniels stayed through Ardas (Prayer of Petitions and Supplication), Hukamnana (sacred Message read from Sri Guru Granth Sahib) and distribution of Karah Prasad (sweet whole wheat pudding as a sacred offering to all).

Governor Daniels in his remarks thanked the Sikh community for their warm welcome and said, “We are so grateful that the Sikh tradition is alive and thriving in Indiana,” and
“May it multiply …and as it does, we will be a stronger State.” He saw echoes of many Sikh ideals and beliefs in other sacred traditions, including his own. Throughout his visit to the Sikh Temple complex, Governor Daniels was most respectful and friendly to all
who had the opportunity to meet and greet him. He exuded a warm and reassuring spirit and understanding of the special concerns of the Sikh community in Indiana. Governor Daniels thanked the Sikh community and extended special greetings and good wishes.

Dr. Juana Watson was presented a brocaded Sikh Shawl and special plaque thanking her for “her friendship and special support of the Sikh community in Indiana” by Giani Pritam Singh (Head Priest) Tarlochan Singh Bansi and Harpreet Sandhu (Trustees), Jasvir Lalli (President) of the Sikh Satsang of Indianapolis. The Sikh leadership presented the Honorable Governor with a traditional Siropa, a Sri Singh Sahib (Ceremonial Sikh Kirpan), and a special book: The Sikhs by Khushwant Singh, as tokens of high respect and in friendship and affection.

The successful visit of the Indiana Governor was made possible by a group of dedicated sevaks, among them: Maninder Singh Walia, Avtar Singh, Harpreet Sandhu, and Harry Ghoman (Trustees), Jasvir Singh Lalli (President), Giani Pritam Singh (Head Granthi), Jagjit Singh (President, Greenwood Gurdwara), Sukhdip Singh, Amarbir Ghoman, Jagjit Singh, Bina Ahluwalia, Sonia Gill, KP Singh (Event Coordinator), and many others.

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels’ visit was another example of the continued efforts by the Sikh Americans to interface with the mainstream institutions, government and business leaders, and faith communities, and participation in many diverse interfaith prayer services, educational forums, and civic projects to affirm their commitment to life and responsibilities here, contribute to enlarge the cultural and spiritual fabric, and work towards dispelling the unfounded stereotype and post 9/11 problems of mistaken identity, unprovoked violence, discrimination and harassment, and hate crimes against innocent fellow Americans. We believe that our religious diversity conversations and experiences can and are helping bridge differences, revealing and enhancing our collective strengths, and opening-up new frontiers of opportunities, prosperity, and peaceful living in Indiana and across the human universe. We must recognize and celebrate the many colorful ideas and cultures that are converging at “the Crossroads of America.” Our outreach initiatives, and not isolation, are the first steps to acceptance, mutual respect, and positive change and we are proud of them.





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