Los Angeles: A 74-year-old Indian-origin Sikh, known as the "peach king of California", has been honoured by the state's governor who praised the commnuity's contributions to the nation.
Didar Bains, godfather to the region's more than 50,000 Sikhs, was yesterday honoured by governor Jerry Brown, who went to the Sikh Temple of Sacramento to honour his longtime political supporter.
Brown praised Bains and thousands of other immigrants from India who he said have enriched the nation with their culture and work ethics.
"It's an honour and a privilege to be here,' Brown told some 2,000 Sikhs from Los Angeles who filled the West Sacramento gurdwara, the Sacramento Bee reported.
Brown's inaugural visit to the temple comes as more Sikhs engage in politics.
Narinderpal Singh Hundal, a Sikh newspaper publisher and businessman, ran for mayor in West Sacramento, losing the November 4 polls to incumbent Christopher Cabaldon.
"The Sikh community is at a turning point that many immigrants go through; we are no longer looking inward. We are politically active, and the governor recognises this," said Sikh activist and attorney Amar Shergill.
Brown said that, like Bains and many in the audience, his grandfather was a farmer.
Brown, elected this month to a record fourth term as governor of California, said the world needs religious and ethnic tolerance more than ever ? and the nation and California benefit from immigrants.
"We tend to get stagnant without the replenishment of new people and new ideas," Brown said.
"We need to welcome people to California, to respect people here ? we don?t have to look the same, think the same or worship the same. We can all flourish."
In 2012, Brown signed into law two legislative bills protecting workers who wear sacred turbans, hijabs and yarmulkes and changes how history and social sciences are taught in schools so that students learn about the history, tradition and theology of California Sikhs.
Brown praised Sikhs who have built businesses, schools and temples, and embraced Bains, who has supported Brown for more than 30 years.
Bains, who arrived in California in 1958 from Punjab at the age of 18, is now a multimillionaire who, with about a dozen other family members, owns about 40,000 acres in Sutter, Yuba, Butte, Sacramento, Glenn and Tehema counties, said his son Karm Bains.
"We are blessed. We farm peaches, prunes, walnuts and almonds and have processing plants."