White House celebrates Guru Nanaks birth anniversary

Washington: The White House recently celebrated the 545th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev by inviting members of the Sikh community from across the US and hosted a ‘langar’ for them.

Tina Tchen, Special Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff to the First Lady, conveyed the greetings from the First couple and said, “I had the privilege of working with the Sikh community since I have joined the White House and I would like each one of you to stay in touch with us.”

President Barack Obama had issued a statement on the day of Guru Nanak’s birth-anniversary last week congratulating the Sikh community.

Congressman Mike Honda from California, who fought a fierce election battle to be re-elected, joined the celebrations.

He reflected on the importance of the day and said, “What Guru Nanak taught is very much relevant today. Your community has a glorious history in America and you have contributed immensely to this nation.”

Honda congratulated Jaskeerat Singh, the first full-fledged police officer hired in California with his full Sikh identity, whose brother Ravi Singh was in the audience.

He also honoured the first Sikh American congressperson, Dalip Singh Saund, who is also the first Asian American to be elected to Congress.

Honda spoke about issues of bullying that Sikh youth experience and his efforts to make sure no child is discriminated against. He added, “We need to make sure that we hire Sikh teachers in the school systems to increase diversity which would also help in creating awareness about Sikh faith and Sikh culture.”

The event included a kirtan followed by a musical presentation by young musical stars among Sikhs. They presented a number in Raag Bageshri, enthralling the audience with their engaging performance.

Simran Jeet Singh, PhD candidate at Columbia University and senior fellow at the Sikh Coalition delivered the keynote speech. Singh spoke about the influence Guru Nanak’s words has had on his own life and how the teacher’s wisdoms.


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