Washington: For the second consecutive year,
the White House celebrated `Gurparb` on Saturday, the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, with traditional `kirtan`, as President
Barack Obama greeted the community on the "extraordinary
occasion" saying Americans shared principles of Sikhism like
equality and interfaith cooperation.
Eminent members of the Sikh community attended the
Gurparb celebrations at the executive mansion and were
welcomed by senior officials led by Christina M Tchen, head of
the White House Office of Public Engagement.
"Obama has deep regards for the Sikh community and we are
eager to work with you all," Tchen said, addressing the 120
Sikhs from across the US, who were present on the occasion
attired in colorful turbans and traditional Punjabi dresses.
In his message, Obama said: "On Sunday, many around the
world will observe the anniversary of birth of Guru Nanak Dev
Ji, the founder of Sikhism. I send my best wishes to all those
observing this extraordinary occasion."
"This is also an opportunity to recognise the many
contributions that Sikh Americans have made to our nation, and
to reflect on the pluralism that is a hallmark of America.
Sikhism`s principles of equality, service, interfaith
cooperation and respect are principles shared by all
Americans," he said.
"As Sikhs celebrate the birth of Guru Nanak, people of
good will everywhere can identify with his teachings on the
equality of all humankind and the need for compassion in our
service to others," Obama said.
The programme started with the traditional kirtan with
harmonium and tabla performed by Ragi Nirmal Singh Nagpuri and
Sukhjeevan Singh of the Golden Temple.
They sang a hymn in praise of Guru Nanak and a hymn
written by Guru Nanak conveying the message of universality.
Official speeches were interspersed by a series of Sikh
greetings `Jo Bole So Nihal` and thunderous response of `Sat
Sri Akal` which means - "whoever hails the Timeless Being as
true, is blessed".
Sehejneet Kaur, a 16-year-old Sikh singer with a
melodious voice, also sang a `shabad` written by Guru Nanak
reflecting on the theme of doing selfless service in the