Senate, House measures highlight the invaluable contributions of Sikh Americans
By Geeta Goindi
Washington, DC, November 11, 2019 – Ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, founder of Sikhism, powerful US lawmakers have introduced resolutions commemorating the milestone and extolling the invaluable contributions of Sikh Americans to the country.
A resolution introduced in the Senate, Friday, by Democratic lawmakers Dick Durbin of Illinois, Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Ben Cardin of Maryland, “recognizes the historical, cultural and religious significance of the 550th birthday of Guru Nanak” whose teachings “on equality and service have inspired millions of people and can serve as an inspiration for people of all faiths”.
Earlier, in August, a resolution honoring Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary and lauding Sikhs for contributing to American society for well over a century was introduced in the House of Representatives by congressman T.J. Cox (Democrat-California) and co-sponsored by bipartisan lawmakers John Garamendi (Democrat-California), Ted Yoho (Republican-Florida), Zoe Lofgren (Democrat-California) and Haley Stevens (Democrat-Michigan).
The Senate resolution notes that Sikhism is the fifth largest religion in the world, and that there are more than 25,000,000 Sikhs worldwide of which over 750,000 Sikhs reside in America.
While extolling “the invaluable contributions and sacrifices made by Sikh Americans”, the measure acknowledges “the discrimination that Sikh Americans have faced in the United States and around the world, and expresses its respect for all Sikhs who practice their faith”.
In a joint press statement with co-sponsors of the Senate resolution, Durbin noted, “Sikh Americans have added to the social, cultural and economic diversity of the United States including by serving as members of our Armed Forces and have contributed to fields as diverse as agriculture, information technology, hospitality, trucking and medicine”. The senior senator from Illinois who serves as the Democratic Whip, stated, “I’m honored to introduce this resolution with senators Menendez and Cardin recognizing the many contributions and accomplishments of Sikh Americans and the 550th birthday of Guru Nanak”.
The landmark birth anniversary will be observed on Tuesday, November 12, which is the ‘Kartik Purnima’ (day of the full moon in the auspicious month of Kartik).
Menendez, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC), stated, “This November, I join with my many constituents of the Sikh faith to honor and commemorate the birth and wisdom of Guru Nanak, a man who has provided inspiration for centuries to so many around the world”.
Recalling his visit to the Golden Temple in Amritsar last month, the influential senator said it was an honor to visit the sacred place and that he “gained an even deeper appreciation for the values embodied in the Sikh religion”.
“The Sikh community has made countless contributions to civic life in New Jersey and the United States across so many endeavors in the public and private sectors”, he noted. “As this resolution describes, America is a better country thanks to Sikhs from all walks of life”, he affirmed.
In the press communique, Cardin, a member of the SFRC, noted, “Sikh Americans have been a proud part of the American story for generations and they continue to enrich our nation and the communities in which they live”.
“I thank the Sikh community for their ongoing social, cultural and economic contributions, and for their courage to stand up against racial and religious discrimination against their community and others”, he stated.
Regarding the House resolution, congressman Cox said in a press release that he is proud to introduce the measure “honoring the significant contributions” made by Sikh Americans to the United States.
“Today, the influence of Sikh Americans is reflected in every facet of American life including the Central Valley’s agriculture industry”, he noted adding, “My district alone is home to more than 25,000 Sikhs and seven of the largest gurdwaras (Sikh houses of worship)” in the country. Some 50 percent of American Sikhs reside in California.
The House resolution affirms that the lower chamber of Congress “is committed to educating citizens about the world’s religions, the value of religious diversity, tolerance grounded in First Amendment principles, a culture of mutual understanding, and the importance of reducing violence”.
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