Washington, Dec 11 (IANS) The Obama White House has celebrated the birthday of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, for the third time in the presence of about 160 members of the community from across the US.
Paul Monteiro, Associate Director at the Office of Public Engagement, welcomed the attendees, some of them dressed in traditional Punjabi attire and colourful turbans with the Sikh greeting, "Waheguruji Ka Khalsa, Waheguruji ki fateh!"
"The White House welcomes the Sikh community and this is our third celebration during President Obama's presidency and we will continue on this path," he said, according to a press release from the Sikh Council on Religion and Education (SCORE).
"This seems like a family event for all of us," said Gautam Raghavan, another official from the White House Office of Public Engagement,
Several other senior Obama Administration officials acknowledged the presence of the families of the victims of Oak Creek gurdwara shooting in August who were especially invited to be part of the event.
The programme started with an opening prayer by Amarpreet Kaur Everest, a young girl from a pioneer family of Yuba City, California. This was followed by a hymn celebrating the advent of Guru Nanak by noted kirtan singer from Punjab Bhai Niranjan Singh.
SCORE chairman Rajwant Singh said: "This is a proud moment for the entire community to celebrate this great occasion at the White House especially in light of the tragedy of Oak Creek and also while we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of our first gurdwara in America."
Amardeep Singh, who serves on the White House initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and an official of Sikh Coalition, thanked the Obama Administration for its support to the community.