Indian Ambassador addresses Sikh community in California

Ritu Jha-

Ambassador Taranjit Singh Sandhu addressed a special gathering of hundreds of Sikhs farmers, businessmen, and community leaders at an event August 18, hosted by Simran and Ramnik Thind at Wente Vineyards in Livermore, California. He spoke for 40 minutes, of which the last 10 minutes were in the Punjabi dialect to connect with the community.

Ambassador Sandhu is the grandson of Sardar Teja Singh Samundri, a renowned freedom fighter from Punjab who sacrificed his life and died in Lahore Jail in 1926. Sardar Samundrri played a vital role in the formation of the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabhandhak Committee (SGPC), a statutory body comprising elected representatives of Sikhs concerned primarily with the management of sacred Sikh shrines under its control within the territorial limits of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and the Union territory of Chandigarh.

“The student scholarships offered by SGPC has helped many to come to the US for higher studies,” Sandhu said. He said just like his grandfather transformed the Sikh community, the current generation can do too. “What he did, you can do as well because you are already successful,” he said, referring to the scholarships.

He also spoke about how important it is for the Sikh community’s next generation to stay rooted to its ideals, values and its unique culture. He stressed investing in the next generation, creating awareness about Sikhs through sewa (service), and connecting with Gurudwaras and the Holy Book to overcome stress.

“Invest in your future generation,” he said. “I am not asking you to do that in Punjab; Punjab can take care of itself.”

He also mentioned how several Sikhs in the US have had to face mistaken identity issues, leading to violent incidents. According to the FBI, anti-Sikh hate crime incidents increased by 82%, from 49 to 89, from 2019 to 2020.

“It’s your responsibility to educate,” he said. “How would Americans learn about the community? Only when your children are educated and join jobs at the top and in public service.”

Ambassador Sandhu stressed on teaching the thoughts behind the Guru Granth Sahib, the holiest book in the Sikh religion. “Kids should be taught the Guru Granth Sahib. Let them associate it with a Gurudwara, so that they can face challenges without having to spend time with physiatrists and or undergo psychological pressures.”

He said, “We have read so much about our connection with the spirit of seva. This, too, is a kind of seva.” He urged Punjabi farmers to connect their next generation with their homeland Punjab. “Not just emotionally but culturally as well.”