To create awareness about Sikhism, the California state legislature, for the second time in a row, celebrated Vaisakhi and Turban Day at the State Capitol, and passed a resolution HR 18, sending the message to all Californians to participate in community celebrations throughout the state.
The resolution was passed by California State Assemblymember Ash Kalra, a Democrat and the first Indian American in California to serve as the state legislature. Kalra represents CA-District 27, that encompasses the heart of Silicon Valley, the city of San Jose, and Santa Clara County.
The resolution was passed April 1 and was attended by over 50 community members. The state of California is home to an estimated quarter million (250,000) Sikhs, roughly 40 percent of the nation’s Sikh population.
“HR 18 observes Vaisakhi as one of the most significant days for Sikh Americans and Sikh history and expresses California’s deep respect for all who observe and celebrate Vaisakhi with South Asian Americans and the Indian diaspora throughout the world on this occasion,” the resolution stated.
According to the resolution: “Vaisakhi is an ancient festival of great significance to Sikhs and they celebrate a long-established harvest festival, which predates Sikhism, to celebrate the agricultural year and pray for abundant “rabi” crop produce for the next season.”
For Sikhs and Sikh Americans, Vaisakhi holds special religious and historical significance because it commemorates the creation of Khalsa by the 10th Guru Gobind Singh in 1699.
Kalra, who led a California State Assembly delegation to India this past December and also visited the Golden temple, shared his thoughts on the Vaisakhi celebration and Turban Day at the Capitol told indica, “While Vaisakhi is observed as one of the most significant days of Sikh Americans and Sikh history, awareness for many Californians is limited.”
“I am proud to be able to introduce HR 18 to raise awareness and recognize this year’s Vaisakhi celebration on April 14,” Kalra said.
Assemblymember Bill Quirk, one of the co-authors of the resolution told indica, “On Turban Day celebration, the Sikh community has faced discrimination and violence at the hand of many individuals, who do not understand Sikhism.”
“It is extremely important that we do all we can to remind the public of who Sikh’s are and what they want. Like all of us, they want a good life for their family,” Quirk said.
Quirk, a Democrat who
represents the 20th Assembly District is one of the popular assembly members
among Indian Americans in the Bay Area, continued, “Sikhs are dedicated to
serving the whole community and explicitly to help the helpless.”