Sikhism and Guru Nanak mentioned by President Obama at the State Dinner for Indian Prime Minister

  


Washington, December 1, 2009: President Obama very proudly mentioned the first White House celebration of the anniversary of Guru Nanak while leading a toast at the State Dinner in honor of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. He said, 'Many of your were here when as President I hosted the Diwali at the White House, the festival of lights' . He continued, 'Many of you were here when we celebrated the birth anniversary of the Founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak". The entire audience of 338 guests including the Prime Minister clapped in appreciation. The guest list included senators, congressional leaders, top business leaders of US and India, Hollywood big wigs, U.S. Military leaders, artists, writers and prominent Indian Americans.



Dr. Rajwant Singh, Chairman of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education (SCORE), who was instrumental in arranging the White House celebration of Guru Nanak's birthday, said, " This was a dream come true when the President of the United states mentions Guru Nanak and Sikhism in the opening lines of his welcoming address to the Indian Prime Minister. That was just a great moment. Especially when the whole world was watching on live television and most powerful people of the US were in the audience. This was the most powerful acknowledgement of the Sikhs in America by the leader of the Western world."

Earlier Prime Minister Manmohan Singh acknowledged to Rajwant Singh that the White House officials very proudly had mentioned this to the Prime Minister that Guru Nanak Gurpurab was celebrated at the White House few days ago. Gursharan Kaur also expressed her joy of this celebration at the White House. Manmohan Singh told Dr. Singh that, "Sikh community should continue to make positive contributions and achieve great things."

Dr. Rajwant Singh, Chairman of the Washington based Sikh Council on Religion and Education(SCORE), was invited for lunch by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in honor of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the glittery and ornate visiting room of the State Department. This was attended by several lawmakers of United states and also many prominent personalities of the United States.



Vice President Biden, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Hillary Clinton at the State Department Lunch



PM Manmohan Singh speaking during the State Department Lunch

White House invited Lakhwinder Singh Sodhi, brother of Balbir Singh Sodhi and AZ director of SCORE, to the State Dinner. Lakhwinder Singh Sodhi who is known as Rana Sodhi, told the Arizona Republic, "They invited me because my family got hurt and they respect my family," Rana Singh Sodhi said. "You feel like you are in a wonderful country that people, after nine years, still remember."



Rana Sodhi and his wife, Sukhbir Kaur, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the State Dinner at the White House

Rajwant Singh appreciated the invitation to the Sodhis and said," This is a kind gesture towards the Sodhi family and the Sikh community. This shows President Obama's sensitivity towards the Sikh community and this sends a signal that he cares deeply about the Sikhs in America."



Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano with the Sodhis at the State Dinner. Janet Napalitano as Governor of Arizona played a major role in providing support to the Sikh community in the aftermath of 9/11. She personally supported the Sodhi family after the murder of Balbir Singh Sodhi as the first hate crime in America after 9/11.



Sant Chatwal, Rana Sodhi, Mrs Jindal, Sukhbir Kaur, and Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana at the State Dinner.



Manmohan Singh being welcomed at the White House by Hillary Clinton and President Obama



Arrival Ceremony at the White House



Michelle Obama and Gursharan Kaur at the Arrival ceremony at the White House.

Dr. Rajwant Singh and his wife were also invited to the arrival ceremony of PM Manmohan Singh at the East room of the White House. Indian delegation and many prominent political and celebrities of America were invited to witness this spectacular scene. SCORE had invited over 200 guests from all over America for the arrival ceremony of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the White House but unfortunately the ceremony was canceled due to weather conditions and a smaller ceremony was held inside in the East room of the White House.



Sikhs at the Arrival Ceremony of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the East room of the White House. from left to right: Bhupinder Singh Sodhi from Florida, Satinder Kaur Bedi from Cleveland, OH, Dr. Rajwant Singh and Dr. Balvinder Kaur from Maryland.

Dr. Rajwant Singh, Hollywood star Blair Underwood and Dr. Balvinder Kaur.



Dr. Rajwant Singh with Speaker Nancy Pelosi at the State Department Lunch.

Lunch guests included Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano; U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice; Christina Romer of the Council of Economic Advisers; Speaker Nancy Pelosi; Sens. Chris Dodd (D- Conn.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.); Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley; and Reps. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.), Howard Berman (D-Calif.) and Jim McDermott (D-Wash.)

The entire Indian delegation and some White House and State Department staffers also attended.  Other prominent IndiansRatan Tata, Ranjana Khanna, Vinod Shah, president of AAAPI, CEO of INfosys, S. Gopalkrishnan, Indra Noyee of Pepsico, Dr. Rajwant Singh, Chairman of Sikh Council on Religion and Education, Sant Singh Chatwal,SwadeshChatterjee, Rajesh Soin from OH, Dr. Sanjay Gupta from MI, Former Ambassadors Frank Wisner and Thomas Pickering, famous author Thomas Friedman, TV journalist Fareed Zakaria, and Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke.

VP Biden led the toast in honor of the PM Manmohan Singh and Manmohan Singh returned the favor by leading a toast in honor of Joe Biden. Hillary Clinton praised Singh's leadership in leading India in the field of education. VP acknowledged the former Presidents Clinton and Bush for bringing both nations together and he said that President Obama is going to follow the same tradition. Manmohan Singh appreciated the role of Hillary Clinton both as First lady and as Senator and Co-chairman of the India Caucus for bringing closeness between the two nations. Fish with green beans and barley was served. Vegetarian food was served for many including the PM.

SCORE organized the first White House celebration of the Guru Nanak's birthday during Obama administration and the first Sikh event celebrating the 400th anniversary of the Sikh scriptures during President Bush's administration.

Article on Rana Sodhi at the State Dinner:

http://www.azcentral.com/community/mesa/articles/2009/11/27/20091127statedinner1128.html

http://www.sikhcouncilusa.org/article.aspx?article=gurunanak09

http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2009/11/20/540th-anniversary-birth-guru-nanak-dev-ji

http://www.sikhnet.com/news/sikhism-and-guru-nanak-mentioned-president-obama-state-dinner



  


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