DIASPORA : Guru Nanak Dev Ji

First White House celebration

After Diwali, the White House for the very first time in November 2009 celebrated Gurparab, Guru Nanak’s birth anniversary, with about 125 Sikh men in colourful turbans and women in traditional Punjabi dress. Senior officials led by Christina M. Tchen, head of the White House Office of Public Engagement, welcomed 125 Sikh guests from all over the USA to the executive mansion. She said, “This is your White House and this first event is just the beginning and it will be part of many gatherings of your community here. We want you to stay in contact with us.” Among senior Obama administration officials present was Kalpen Modi, an Indian-American actor and now associate director of the Public Engagement Office.

Darshan Singh Bagga and Baldev Singh presenting a book on the teachings of Guru Nanak Dev Ji to Michael Strautmanis, Chief of Staff to the Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Relations and Public Engagement, along with Dr. Rajwant Singh and other Sikh leaders Paul Monteiro, Associate Director, White House Office of Public Engagement welcoming the Sikhs. Dr. Rajwant Singh on the right and other Sikh leaders from across the United States

The program began with a Sikh prayer by Sarabjit Singh, Granthi of New York Gurdwara in Glen Cove in Long Island. He offered prayers for President Obama and his administration and for the well-being of entire humanity. Traditional Kirtan with harmonium and tabla was performed by Ragi Nirmal Singh Nagpuri and Sukhjeevan Singh from Golden Temple, Amritsar, and translation of hymns was provided. They were accompanied by talented tabla player Sucha Singh of Jalandhar. In addition, Guru Sangat Singh and Gursangat Kaur, American Sikhs sang a song of Nanak in English which was accompanied by the guitar. This event was organized by the Sikh Council on Religion and Education (SCORE) in partnership with the White House. Dr. Rajwant Singh conducted the stage and Paul Monteiro from the White House introduced all the participants. Speeches of senior officials of President Obama’s administration were interspersed by a series of Sikh greetings such as Bole So Nihal and Sat Sri Akal. It means whoever calls the Timeless Being is true, is blessed.


January 2010

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