To commemorate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, a granthi Giani Sukhvinder Singh performed a Sikh prayer for the first time at the opening ceremony of the US Congress from the Senate's side. The prayer is seen as a move to strengthen interfaith dialogue.
Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania presided as the Chairman of the Senate and congratulated the Sikhs on the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak. He also read out the principles of Guru and his life.
From the House side, Congressman Jim Costa made the opening remarks on Wednesday on the 550th Birth Anniversary of Guru Nanak. He also spoke of Guru Nanak's life and the contribution of Sikhs to the United States.
Granthi performs first-ever Sikh prayer at US Congress to commemorate 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak pic.twitter.com/99IzbysEZF
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Later in the evening, a host of special events were organized by the American Sikh Caucus Committee (ASCC) and the Office of Senator Pat Toomey. The Interfaith dialog session, conducted by Harpreet S Sandhu, Executive Director (ASCC) was opened by Senator Toomey. He spoke in length about the contributions of Guru Nanak and his values instilled within the Sikhs.
Granthi performs first-ever Sikh prayer at US Congress to commemorate 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak. pic.twitter.com/ghIqz6OQTw
— Zee News (@ZeeNews) October 17, 2019
The first speaker of the session was former Congressman Patrick Meehan of Pennsylvania, who spoke of the values inspired by the life of Guru Nanak and those of the religions of the West, especially of the monotheistic adherents. He further emphasized the positive values and practices of the Sikhs in the United States and their great contribution to the betterment of the nation.
He looked forward to Sikhs playing a more prominent role in all aspects of the United States. He also acknowledged that Sikhs elsewhere in the world were still living under duress and it was the duty for elected officials to bring it to the forefront to the public and world's attention.
The second panelist was Rai A Bhatti who is the seventeenth great descendant of Rai Bular Bhatti, considered by many as the second most person dedicated to Guru Nanak. Bhatti laid out the life of Guru Nanak in Talwandi Sahiband and the long relationship to Rai Bular and many of the Sakhi's as witnesses by Rai Bular.
The third panelist was Ravinderpal Singh MD who serves as a Child Psychiatrist in the Northern Virginia area. His speech was addressed to the youth, urging them to follow the principles of Guru Nanak and their relevancy in daily life. He encouraged the use of one of Guru Nanak's greatest gift-- of dialogue to be practiced in the youth's daily life, be it friends or foe. Dr Singh shared examples of dialogue as practiced by his sessions he holds with youths in many of the Gurdwaras in Virginia.
The interfaith dialogue session, held from 5-6 pm was attended by many staff members from both the Senator's and the Congresspersons' offices , and Sikh men and women from across the United States. Many of the Gurdwara's Committee members and prominent Sikh Organizations were also present.
The second session was held from 6 pm tp 7:30 pm on Wednesday, followed by a dinner to celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.
During the second session as well, many members of Congress attended to congratulate the Sikh community on the special occasion. The members included Congresswoman Shela Jackson Lee of Texas. She spoke about the contribution of Sikhs in her district. Congressman Rob Witman of Virginia, Congressman Paul Cook Vice Chair of the American Sikh Congressional Caucus, Congressman Ami Bera and Congressman Jim Costa of California among others attended the session.
Congressman Jim Costa talked about his history of his engagement with the Sikhs in his district. Congressman Jim Costa has helped to form the American Sikh Congressional Caucus and is proud of his relationship with Sikhs in his Constituency.
The event concluded with everyone's hope to go forward to include the teachings of Guru Nanak teaching and instill his principles in their daily lives.