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Mayor of LA sports Turban on Sikh holy day; $75,000 donation made by Sikh Community to LA Regional Food Bank


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    G u r u R a m D a s A s h r a m
    1 6 2 0 P r e u s s R o a d , L o s A n g e l e s
    P h o n e : 3 1 0 . 2 0 1 . 0 9 5 4

    Kirtan-Singh Khalsa, Guru Ram Das Ashram
    April 17, 2006 310.990.4573
    Evelyn Aleman, Media Image PR
    818.881.7976 office/ 943.2481 -- cell

    Sikh Dignitaries from India Join US Congressman, Los Angeles Mayor in Baisakhi Celebration

    13 Temples Host 15,000 Sikhs on Baiskhi, Complete with Colorful Parade and $75,000 Worth of Food Donated to LA Regional Food Bank

    Over 15,000 Sikhs from California and around the country celebrated Baisakhi on Sunday, April 16th at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Organized by 13 different Sikh organizations and temples in the Southern California area, the celebration included Sikh devotional music, addresses by Sikh leadership from India and the United States and by California dignitaries, and a colorful parade. In addition, Golden Temple, Inc, a Sikh owned business, donated $75,000 worth of Peace Cereal to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.

    This Baisakhi celebration is considered to be the largest of its kind in the Western United States.

    Baisakhi is the holiest day of the year for the Sikh community. Like many other faiths who celebrated holy days this weekend, Baisakhi is considered a time of renewal, recommitment and rebirth.

    The highest spiritual and administrative leaders from India joined the Los Angeles Sikh community in celebrating Baisakhi this year. These dignitaries addressed the community during the program. In attendance were: Singh Sahib Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jethedar Sri Akal Takhat Sahib, Singh Sahib Tarlochan Singh, Jethedar Keshgar Sahib, Singh Sahib Iqbal Singh, Jethedar Patna Sahib, Giana Ranjit Singh, Head Granthi Bala Sahib, Roop Singh, Assistant Secretary to the SGPC, the body that oversees the care of Sikh temples in India, and the Manager of the Golden Temple, and Dalmegh Singh, Secretary of SGPC.

    Other Sikh leaders who addressed the LA Sikh community during Baisakhi included Dr. Inderjit Kaur, the Bhai Sahiba of Sikh Dharma International and Sardarni Guru Amrit Kaur, the Siri Sikhdar Sahiba of Sikh Dharma International.

    Also in attendance were US Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA), Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Los Angeles Country Sheriff Leroy Baca and California State Assembly Member Judy Chu.

    Mayor Villaraigosa showed his community spirit by attending the Baisakhi celebration sporting a turban. The turban is worn as a traditional part of the Sikh religion.

    The elected officials were honored by the Sikh community for their continued work against hate crimes, and their commitment to embracing the diversity of Los Angeles County.

    During a press conference held during the event, Kartar Singh Khalsa, the CEO of Golden Temple, affectionately called the Mayor “Antonio Singh” in honor of the Mayor’s turban. “Singh” is a surname given to male Sikhs meaning Lion.

    Golden Temple, makers of Peace Cereal, donated $75,000 worth of cereal on behalf of the Sikh community to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank during Baisakhi. The donation was received by LA Regional Food Bank Executive Director Michael Flood.

    According to Sikh community spokespeople, feeding the hungry is a long-standing tradition for the Sikhs that dates back to the time of the religion’s founder, Guru Nanak, nearly 500 years ago. In donating food to the LA Regional Food Bank, the tradition of service in the Sikh community continues into the modern era.

    Congressman Sherman, Sheriff Baca and Assembly Member Chu, as well as the Mayor, and Sikh leadership from India and the United States were present at the donation ceremony. The California representatives spoke to the press about their positive experiences with the Sikh community, and their commitment to embracing the diversity of Los Angeles and California. They also educated the community and the press about their recent legislative initiatives that would prevent hate crimes and build understanding among the diverse population of the city and state.

    The day began with hours of Kirtan – Sikh devotional music. All who came were fed at no cost in langar – the tradition of the free kitchen for the Sikhs. And the day ended with a colorful parade. Over 13 floats traveling through the heart of downtown Los Angeles.

    The Sikh religion is the fifth major religion in the world, with 23 million adherents world-wide. 500,000 Sikhs live in the United States – and 50,000 – one-tenth of the US Sikh population resides in California.

    Photos credit: Dev Dharam Kaur

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