WASHINGTON (TIP) : Members of the American Sikh community from across the country turned up in large numbers as the White House celebrated the 544th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, the first Guru of Sikhs. This was the third consecutive year that the White House celebrated the occasion. Conveying his best wishes on the occasion, President Obama remembered victims of the Wisconsin gurdwara shooting in his message. “I can’t think of a better way to honor their memory, and to join our Sikh friends as they mark this sacred time, than to recommit ourselves to the spirit of pluralism, equality and compassion that define both the Sikh community and our nation,” he said.
Although unable to attend the event on December 7, Indian American Congressman from California Ami Bera thanked the US President Barack Obama for hosting a special event commemorating Guru Nanak’s life. “On the anniversary of his birth and every day, we should honor the values Guru Nanak taught — tolerance, respect, hard work and service — to those most in need. We must also remember the innocent lives lost earlier this year in the tragic Oak Creek gurdwara shooting and the tragedies that followed, and commit to preventing future incidence of violence,” Bera said. The United Sikhs, a voluntary organization, in a statement said the White House’s Eisenhower executive office building was filled with Sikh Jaikaras.
Members of the Sikh community from around the country were invited to celebrate the occasion with traditional hymns by a group of Sikh Kirtanias (Chanters) from India, it said. Thomas Edward Perez, the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice, said the Obama Administration is supportive of all communities, and called the Wisconsin incident a hate crime. “Obama has once again demonstrated that he has admiration for the high principles of equality and interfaith collaborative spirit started by Guru Nanak, and we are thankful to him and his team” said Bakshish Singh, advisor to United Sikhs.