Sikhs Attend Program at White House

August 18th, 2004

Washington - On Wednesday, August 18, 2004, at the invitation of the Bush Administration, ninety (90) Sikhs from around the United States are gathering at the White House to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh Scriptures. High officials of the White House will greet Sikhs on this occasion with special comments and dialogue. The program, which begins at 3:15 pm, will start with a Sikh prayer and hymn singing.

Wednesday, September 1st marks the 400th anniversary of the compilation of the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh Scriptures and its installation at the Golden Temple (Harmandir Sahib), located in Amritsar, India, in 1604. The scriptures are the guiding principle for the Sikh community since that time.

Dr. Rajwant Singh, National Chairman of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education, said " The Sikh community in the United States is extremely pleased with President Bush’s invitation on this auspicious occasion. Sikhs have been in America over 100 years and this definitely sends a strong signal that this White House recognizes the Sikh presence in the U. S.” This is the first time the White House is marking a Sikh event.

Dr. Rajwant Singh stated, “Sikhs are highly gratified at this recognition. Sikh contributions to American political developments, to the American economy and American culture have strengthened this country. They stand ready to build on the foundations previously constructed, and to continue their far ranging contributions to American life.”

There are close to half million Sikhs in the U.S and they have now established a thriving community in the United States and continue to make significant contributions to American society as physicians, high-tech professionals, academics, entrepreneurs, cab drivers and convenience store workers. They are amongst the most hard-working, educated and prosperous groups of Americans. The first Asian American to be elected to U. S. Congress in 1962 was a Sikh from California.

Dr. Singh further added, “President Bush and his administration have been extremely prompt in responding to the needs of the Sikhs. We always remember his leadership immediately after 9/11 and his words of assurance to the Sikh community facing tough times during those days. It is our conviction that President Bush will continue to welcome Sikhs and other diverse groups to the White House signifying that the highest political office of this land belongs to all people.”

After 9/11 Sikhs have faced hate crimes with their uncut beards and turbans. Four days after 9/11, a Sikh was gunned down and killed in Mesa, Arizona. President Bush had invited Sikh leaders to a special meeting at the White House days after 9/11 to assure the community of his administration's support.

The majority of people in America who wear a turban are in fact Sikhs. Many in America are unaware about the Sikh traditions and observances and due to this Sikhs have and continue to face harassment at the airports and high security areas.

“We are looking forward to a constructive dialogue and engagement with our government and hope to alleviate situations faced by Sikhs in the U.S.” Dr Singh added.

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