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A Prayerful Reflection: Kanwal Prakash Singh
Indianapolis, Indiana USA - Dec. 22, 2016

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 Indiana Bicentennial weekend began with a glittering Gala on December 10, 2016, attended by 700 distinguished invited guests: dignitaries, faith leaders, and Hoosiers from every walk of life at the transformed Indiana Farmers Coliseum.  Honored dignitaries included: Vice President-Elect Indiana Governor Mike Pence and Mrs. Karen Pence; Indiana Governor-Elect Lt. Governor Eric Holcomb and Mrs. Janet Holcomb; members of the Indiana Bicentennial Commission; U.S. Congresswoman Susan Brooks, State Legislators, former Governor Evan and Susan Bayh. The evening was a showcase Hoosier pride: celebration of Indiana’s rich legacy and legendary pioneers; highlights of remarkable journey and incredible opportunity to "Celebrate Indiana: Ignite the Future," by building upon the State’s architectural and cultural heritage, emerging interfaith vitality, and attracting the brightest and best to lead these efforts.

 Indiana became the 19th State of the Union on December 11, 1816. On official 200th Statehood Day, Sunday, December 11, 2016, many returned to witness and participate in the festivities open to the public. This celebration featured an interfaith messages from distinguished Hoosiers representing diverse religious traditions in Indiana. The interfaith segment was coordinated by Charlie Wiles, Executive Director of The Center for Interfaith Cooperation.

Members of The Sikh Satsang of Indianapolis joined State leaders, faith representatives and some amazing performers to commemorate the Indiana Bicentennial. The program included special greetings from attending dignitaries: Vice President-Elect and Indiana Governor Mike Pence; Governor-Elect Lt. Governor Eric Holcomb; Indiana Bicentennial Ambassador First Lady Karen Pence; Tatum Parker (a cancer survivor); and a variety of speakers from diverse faith backgrounds as well as music, dance, and more. The faith speakers invited to address the gathering included: Invocation by Aarti Shah (Jain faith); Rabbi Sandy Sasso (Jewish faith - Congregation Beth-El Zedeck); Sister Norma Rocklage, OSF; David S. Kinard (Mormon -Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints); Minister Douglas Hairston (Mt. Zion Baptist Church, Indianapolis); Ala’a Wafa (Muslim faith); Kanwal Prakash Singh (Sikh faith); Rupal Thanawala (Hindu faith); Tenzin Namgyal (Hoosier Tibetan Buddhists).

KP Singh, an Indiana resident since 1967 and interfaith leader whose artwork has celebrated the State’s outstanding architectural heritage, shared some thoughts on the main theme of the Bicentennial Celebration: “Celebrate Indiana: Ignite the Future.” KP’s remarks touched upon: “Faith, Interfaith and Cultures at America's Crossroads ~ Significance and Future.” KP stated that the growing Sikh community in Indiana (over 5,000 Sikh families) has often joined the interfaith community in humanitarian initiatives, service projects, and community celebrations. KP challenged Indiana leaders to make room for new friends from other lands at civic and community tables so they too can make greater contributions with their talents, cultures, and experiences to further “Ignite the Future” of the State. KP reminded that today Indiana is home for an estimated 250,000 recent immigrants of diverse cultures from distant lands who live and work side by side with over 6.5 million Hoosiers. We need to seize upon the momentum of this collective energy, untapped unique assets and resources, and further strengthen the image and outreach of Indiana as a welcome, attractive, diverse, and vibrant destination.

Respectful positive environment is essential to inspire new and native Hoosiers to be proud partners in “igniting the future,” together dispelling unfounded stereotyping and ending discrimination against fellow Americans; offering opportunities to learn about and from each other the values and ideals that we share; greatly enhancing the power to unify our common expectations and visions. This will be an unmistakable signal that in Indiana, all Hoosiers and their gifts matter, and will assure a better future.

The Sikh Choir, under the leadership of Ragi (musical singer) Joginder Singh, gave a beautiful rendition of the sacred hymn of unity, shared humanity, and thanksgiving from the Sikh scriptures with traditional Indian musical instruments: “Na Ko Berri Nahin Bigana, Sugal Sung Hum Ko Bun Aayee: I have no enemy and no one is a stranger to me; I get along with everyone.” English translation of the Sikh hymn was displayed on the giant screen. The Sikh Choir was coordinated by Maninder Walia, a Trustee and former President of The Sikh Satsang of Indianapolis. Hoosier Sikhs expressed great pride and honor to be a part of Indiana’s historic 200th Statehood Day.

The interfaith messages and presentations added unifying dimensions to a day of Celebration, to the spirit and dedication to a more hopeful future. The Bicentennial video offered a glimpse of the history, heritage, and Hoosier greats. The musical presentations: The Indianapolis Children’s Choir; National Anthem by internationally renowned opera soprano, Angela Brown; Voices of Unity Youth Choir; Indiana University Jacobs School of Music brass musicians; The Sikh Choir; The Hunter Smith Band; inspired everyone attending and also the hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers who enjoyed the live telecast of Indiana’s 200th Statehood Day Celebration.

 The Celebration was a call to build upon the legacy entrusted to us by early settlers and hardy pioneers. New generations of amazingly-gifted innovators, trailblazers; enlightened visionaries have arrived here in search of dreams from all corners of the earth and represent once-unfamiliar faiths, cultural textures and traditions, new skills and critical assets. Our task is to integrate our many diverse and promising interests and visions into unifying commitments to build a future that benefits and honors all citizens. We can only imagine the undreamed-of ripple effect of such an enlightened-renaissance-of-thought in igniting a future that celebrates the amazing courage and sacrifices of early Hoosiers and invites the brave new generations of tomorrow to excel. Imagine inheriting an Indiana that is a “Crossroads of innovation and heritage; cultural attractions and limitless promise.” Let us get to work!


 The Bicentennial Commission was led by former U.S. Representative Lee Hamilton and former Indiana Lt. Governor Becky Skillman as Co-Chairs and Perry Hammock as Executive Director of the Indiana Bicentennial Commission. Across Indiana's 92 Counties over 1,500 special projects and events were initiated and designated as Bicentennial Legacy Projects: "Bison-tennial" Public Art Project, Bicentennial Plaza, Children's Learning Center, 50th Penrod Arts Fair, 2016 Asian Fest, The Indy Festival of Faiths, and an amazing variety of memorable and lasting projects.

 Indiana's Bicentennial is a landmark milestone for Hoosiers and our friends across the continents. For me, The Sikh Satsang, and the interfaith and cultural communities, it was an honor to be invited to participate in such a special once-in-a lifetime moment in our State's remarkable journey.  ....

<> <> Indianapolis, Indiana USA <> December 11, 2016