INDIANA GOVERNOR ERIC HOLCOMB HONORS HOOSIER SIKHS WITH A HISTORIC PROCLAMATION OF A NATIONAL SIKH HERITAGE MONTH
Prayerful Reflection: Kanwal Prakash “KP” Singh, NRIpress.club/Ramesh/ A.Gary Singh
We are thrilled and proud to share this momentous news with the global Sikh community, that Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb has joined other similar declarations by cities, states, and nations in inviting their citizens to celebrate April 2019 as a “Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month” and the National Sikh Heritage Month. This news takes a special significance coming at the time of 320th Sikh Baisakhi since the Founding of Khalsa at Anandpur Sahib in Punjab, India on March 30, 1699 and the recent call by “World’s Top Religious Leaders Issue Rare Joint Appeal” with a unifying message: “Our advice is to make friends to followers of all religions.”
We join in celebrating this enlightened message: “Being people of faith and created in God’s Immaculate image: May we imitate God’s boundless compassion, generosity, and forgiveness as an affirmation of spiritual lessons learned; serve Life with humility and joyous gratitude; honor our uncommon universal God-Spirit that showers blessings upon all, without limit and distinction.” – KP Singh
The leaders of following Gurdwaras and organizations were present at the Statehouse to receive this historic Proclamation on April 2, 2019:
We gratefully acknowledge the initiative and assistance of The Sikh Coalition in the preparation of this historic Proclamation and their coordination with the Indiana Governor’s office in this matter.
The presentation of the historic Proclamation was made by Joe Elsener, Director of Intergovernmental Affairs and Christopher Creighton, State Legislative Director. During the discussion that preceded the presentation, KP Singh, a longtime Indiana resident and interfaith leader, shared a brief historical perspective about the Hoosier Sikh many contributions, involvements and engagements with civic and cultural, law enforcement and interfaith organizations on multiple projects, fundraising, and educational initiatives. KP also highlighted of Hoosier Sikh concerns regarding Sikh sacred faith-mandated articles, incidents of discrimination, harassment, unprovoked violence, bullying of children in schools, and incidents of frequent targeting due to mistaken identity and wrongful association, some leading to hate crimes against a peaceful hardworking Hoosier community.
KP Singh emphasized the need for continued engagement with the Hoosier Cities and State leaderships, law enforcement organizations, and awareness of special involvement of the Indiana Superintendent of Education to add basic cultural Sikh Studies introduction to the school curriculums at various levels to end the bullying of Sikh children with turbans and Patka (scarves as covers) for their uncut hair. The matter of Indiana Governor visiting the Sikh Gurdwara and joining in a community celebration marking the 550th Birthday of the Founder of the Sikh faith, Guru Nanak Devjee was also discussed.
KP also took time with some assistance from other Hoosier Sikh leaders present to share a few thoughts about the founding principles of equality, justice, human dignity, sacred rights, and service of humanity that form the foundation of Sikh faith and its cherished unifying commandments. The Sikh faith Gurus and sacred Scriptures, central precepts and foundations, unifying values and traditions have been a strong advocate and central pillar of this sacred principle. Learning and sharing, living and honoring our sacred commandments; joining hands to serve and uplift humanity.
This historic step of declaration of a “National Sikh Heritage Month” carries a lot of significance for the Hoosier and Sikh American community; beginning of another initiative to learn about neighbors, colleagues, and friends who practice Sikh faith and are proud Americans. This declaration also carries a major responsibility on the part of the Sikh American Community to introduce and showcase their culture, heritage, and traditions; cultural values and faith foundations. Organize special programs, events and exhibits, and special print and internet publications, lectures, and festive celebrations. Be part of and reliable and trusted partners in communities where we live and work. Seek, participate, and create opportunities to mainstream our brilliant ideas and talents, challenges and concerns. Focus on not just ours, but thoughtfully consider how the larger interests of communities that are our home interface and intersect with existing traditions and infrastructure in place. With an open-minded Sikh (disciplined seeker) spirit learn from networking with others and from new and pioneering experiences.
Educating ourselves and others is the first step to create a sense of belonging. The National Sikh Heritage Month and all the days and months that follow should be dedicated to building bridges across cultures, faiths, and communities as our guiding star and tireless endeavor.
Here are some wonderful comments by Hoosier Sikh Sevak-Leaders. They express the sentiments of many with their thoughtful and joyous excitement of the historic significance of this positive gesture:
"The purpose of the Sikh Heritage Month is an opportunity for the Hoosier Sikhs to spread awareness and greater understanding about the Sikh Faith, culture and traditions. This is the first year the Indiana Sikhs have received the Proclamation which also coincides with the 550th GuruPurab (Birthday) celebration of the Founder of the Sikh faith, Guru Nanak DevJee who preached selfless love, peace, equality and dignity of all mankind." - Chirjeev Kaur Oberoi (Sikh Satsang Program Coordinator; Board Member, Center for Interfaith Cooperation)
“It was a historical moment that the Governor’s Office released this Proclamation and declared the Month of April as the 'Sikh Awareness & Appreciation Month', not only because the Sikhs throughout the world are celebrating the 550th GuruPurab (Birthday) of the Founder of Sikhism Guru NanakJee this year and the 320th Vaisakhi (April 14) is being celebrated as the Birth of Khalsa; also because of the presence of the representatives of several major Sikh religious and cultural organizations of Indianapolis who witnessed the moment and participated in the discussion. It is NOT an exaggeration to say, that the entire Sikh Sangat (Hoosier Sikh community) of central Indiana received this proclamation together, which itself is a big achievement. - Baljit Singh Oberoi (Hoosier Sikh-Sevak leader; Board Member, Nationalities Council of Indiana).