by SatSundri Kaur Khalsa
House members, staff, & guests stand at attention during National Anthem
The Opening of the New Mexico Legislature for their annual 30-day session takes place mid-January every year. It has been a tradition for the New Mexico Sikh Community to host lunch, following the Governor’s State of the State address, at the India Palace Restaurant. Yogi Bhajan, a confident and supporter of leadership through many state administrations, both Democratic and Republican, often hosted, in conjunction with his wife, Bhai Sahiba Dr. Bibiji Inderjit Kaur, and the larger Sikh Community — governors, legislators, and international dignitaries of political and spiritual stature, at the Guru Ram Das Estate, in Espanola, New Mexico. Yet, he certainly enjoyed the hosting at the annual Santa Fe India Palace luncheon, with gusto, often seen in and out of owner Narendra Singh Kloty’s restaurant kitchen, making sure all the culinary needs of his guests – and their guests, fresh from the joint opening of the state’s House of Representatives and Senate, were met.
Opening 2006 Session, on Tuesday, was no exception with regards to the carrying on of the tradition. During the invocation followed by the Governor’s address to the joint legislative bodies, Bibiji sat on the rostrum, and white turbaned Sikhs were visible on the House floor and in the balcony gallery. Siri Om Kaur Khalsa is the Legislative Secretary for the 2006 session, a position previously held by the Sikh Dharma Director of Public and Foreign Affairs Mukta Kaur Khalsa, for 15 years.
The Governor Bill Richardson has known the Siri Singh Sahib (Yogi Bhajan) for over 25 years and has had close contact with him through the years. In this picture Bibiji is giving a book about Yogi Bhajan to him as a Gift.
Daya Singh Khalsa, Public Affairs Officer for the New Mexico Sikhs, indicated this was the largest participation at the luncheon that followed, since its start in 1995, with an estimated couple hundred attendees. He, with Bibiji, Kulbir Singh & Kamaljit Kaur, Yogi Bhajan’s son and daughter, and a multitude of Sikhs, hosted several past Governors and wives, legislators, judiciary, local officials, and old friends over the course of the afternoon. Siri Trang Kaur Khalsa, a member of Governor Bill Richardson’s staff, was also there, to join in with the hosting duties. Governor Richardson, arriving later in the afternoon after his press conference, toasted the attendees fondly remembering Yogiji, and with good natured challenge to Daya Singh to introduce EVERY legislator in the room!
Daya Singh, Congressman Tom Udall and Bibiji and others. In this pictures Bibiji is expressing thanks for everyone coming to the lunch and carrying on the yearly tradition that Yogi Bhajan started many years ago.
Thursday, to cap the special events, community members attended the Governor’s Prayer Breakfast with others. Traditional throughout the fifty US states, leaders from diverse faiths and spiritual perspectives came together at Santa Fe's El Dorado Hotel Grand Ballroom to hear prayers, poems, songs, and inspirational messages. This year's keynote speaker was former Oklahoma Congressman and football player J.C. Watts speaking eloquently about the qualities of a child from the lessons of faith perspective which he wove into Governor Richardson's theme for this year's legislative work and for New Mexico state as "The Year of the Child."
Group picture of The Governor and the rest of us who hosted the lunch.