By Suresh Bodiwala
CHICAGO: As Illinois Governor Pat Quinn had proclaimed April 13 as `Sikh American Heritage Day’, the Sikh community celebrated the day of Vaisakhi at gurdwaras in Palatine, Wheaton, and Chicago with great fervor and devotion.
The Sikh Religious Society (SRS) Palatine Gurdwara was full with people on the day that marks the birth of the Khalsa in 1699. More than 2000 devotees attended the kirtan, prayers, and partook of langar (community meal).
Newly initiated into the Khalsa walked in a ceremonial procession, bowed to the Guru and were presented to the congregation amidst cheerful chants of “Jo Bole So Nihal, Sat Sri Akal.”
The Sikh flag (Nishaan Sahib) changing ceremony took place in the morning. The flag pole was washed and cleaned with great reverence and replaced with new fabric material by barefooted devotees singing and standing in chilly weather. Prayers were said to seek blessings for unity as a community and benefit for the whole mankind. Ladoos (sweets) were distributed to mark the occasion.
Significantly, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn had proclaimed April 13, 2013 as `Sikh American Heritage Day.’
From the Governor’s office, his Senior Policy Advisor and Director of Asian American Outreach Ms. Teresa Mah represented him at the celebrations. She read the proclamation, addressed the congregation and passed on the Governor’s greetings to the community.
In his proclamation, the Governor highlighted the achievements, services, and contributions of Sikhs in America. Ms. Mah presented the proclamation document to Sikh Religious Society (SRS) President Sokhi Singh and other community leaders, including Head Granthi Bhai Gurjant Singh.
The SRS president and the board members in return presented to the Governor, a framed photo of the Golden Temple, and a photo of Sikh Soldiers displaying their gallantry in World Wars fighting on the side of the US Allies. SRS Board member Sarwan Singh Raju spoke about Sikh soldiers’ contribution in the two World Wars.
Amrith Kaur Aakre, Assistant State’s Attorney for Cook County in Illinois, conducted the ceremonies for the proclamation segment.
Rajinder Singh Mago coordinated the proclamation event at Gurdwara in Palatine.
(Suresh Bodiwala runs Asian Media USA)