Over 300 Sikhs gathered from all around the Los Angeles area to support a national campaign to create awareness about Sikhism and the Sikh identity. The National Sikh Campaign’s gala held at Sheraton Cerritos over the weekend featured Devenderpal Singh of Indian Idol fame. The event was successful in raising $80,000 to support the national campaign. At one year old, NSC has worked with President Obama’s campaign media team, AKPD, to design a national media strategy to educate Americans about the Sikh community’s presence and its contribution in America.
Since 9/11, Sikhs have faced many incidents of violence and prejudice due to ignorance about Sikhs. According to a recent report by Hart Research Associates commissioned by NSC, most Americans have very little to no understanding about the Sikh faith.
The LA chapter of NSC headed by Dr. Surinder K. Dargan organized a sold-out gala fundraiser, which entertained guests in a well-planned schedule. The organizing team reached to all the local gurdwaras and leading members of the community to have them join in this effort.
Dr. Surinder Dargan said, “this gathering has turned out to be the largest gathering of the Sikhs in U.S. for a Sikh awareness campaign. We are extremely thankful for the overwhelming response of the community in Southern California.” Expressing her joy, She said, “Looking around at all of you makes me happy and hopeful. This makes me believe that Sikhi will prevail and Sikhism will survive in America.”
She added, “We have received not only the financial support but also many blessings from individuals and parents with Sikh children who feel that this kind of campaign is much needed. We are so proud that this has become a great show of unity and purpose in the community.”
Dr Rajwant Singh, co-founder of and senior adviser to NSC, said, NSC provides an opportunity to adopt a strategy to present our community’s struggle and triumph to the American audience with courage and integrity. He cited examples from Sikh history where Sikhs overcame major hurdles unflinchingly. In the same spirit, he said, Sikhs need to launch a world class website and create ad campaign to bring awareness about appearance.
He further added, “the turban is a symbol of human rights and justice but now is seen as cause of anxiety among Americans due to it being confused with people who stand against democracy and American values. It is thrilling that the community has come together to be proactive and launch a positive campaign to show the contribution of Sikhs in America from last 100 years.”
Gurwin S. Ahuja from Washington DC, the co-founder of NSC, spoke about spreading the Sikh values of gender equality, the relevance of turban and respect for all faiths and backgrounds, which equates Sikh values with American values. He said NSC would provide a solid foundation for Sikhs to grow and proudly declare themselves as Sikhs. Ahuja gave a detailed presentation which revealed many facts from the recent study undertaken by Hart Research Associates. The head of the Hart Research associate is Geoff Garin, who has been a strategist for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign and currently has the World Bank, the Harvard University and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as his clients. Ahuja also laid out a detailed strategy for upcoming months, and also planned out benchmarks for this campaign to become a success. NSC Is planning more events in the other parts of the country to enroll the community nationwide.
The gathering acknowledged Dr. Harvinder S. Sahota, Bibi Inderjit Kaur and S. Gurbax S. Bhasin among others for their contribution to the community.
Remaining in Chardi Kala, attendants were captivated by the night of inspiration. Devenderpal Singh bewitched the audience with his charming smile and melodious music. He showed his artistic versatility by singing ghazals, to more upbeat songs that had everyone on the dance floor. UCLA Bhangra team enthralled the audience with their thunderous music and bhangra that held the audience spellbound. In addition, Sahyiba Kaur sang three numbers to entertain the audience. DJ Sukh Chugh provided the audio video services and contributed to making the event a great success. The members of the organizing team were: Deepinder Singh, Balween Kaur, Sukhi Sandhu, Gurbax Singh Bhasin, Hanwantbir Singh Sawhney, and Inderjot Singh.