For the first time in history, the proceedings of the US House of Representatives on Friday began with the offering of prayers by a Sikh Granthi from New Jersey. The prayers are usually offered by a Christian priest to start the session.
Granthi Giani Jaswinder Singh from Pune Hill Gurdwara in New Jersey started the proceedings on Friday after an announcement from House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. He became the first Sikh chaplain to make prayers in the US House of Representatives.
Noting this as a 'historic occasion', Congressman Donald Norcross said, "The history made today is a reminder that the United States welcomes and values and will remain committed to free expression of religion. Giani Singh has made South Jersey proud today and it is an honour to be a part of this moment with him."
"We prayed for the members of this Congress who are working for the protection of the free world and all the Americans over here. We wish and pray for the whole of humanity as one race. So this was the message that was given. And so that's really the universal message of Sikhism," said Harjinder Singh, the media spokesperson of Sikh Coordination Committee East Coast, on the occasion.
Harjinder Singh also said that the occasion was "a very, very happy occasion" for the Sikh community in the United States and the world.
The development came amid a diplomatic row between India and Canada over the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
Earlier, the House of Representatives ecognised two Indian spiritual leaders, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Acharya Lokesh Muni, for their efforts towards global peace and harmony.
“With his message of peace and commitment to education and humanitarianism, Gurudev has lived a life dedicated to the betterment of others,” Indian American Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi said in his remarks in the House.
(with agency input)