Hoosier Sikhs Focus on Learning and Community Building

Special Guests and Community Leaders at Indianapolis Sikh Gurdwara

A Prayerful Reflection: 

For the past 50 years, the Sikhs who settled in central Indiana have been hard at work to make Indiana their home. The Sikh Americans recognized early that to develop a sense of belonging, some of the key initiatives are: To actively engage and learn about the communities where they live and work; to mainstream and integrate their talents and energies toward making a better life for all people; to network with other faith and cultural groups, civic and educational institutions, humanitarian and interfaith initiatives to make a difference for others in America and beyond during times of national and international natural disasters; be a part of and partners in life and culture, and respectful of the institutional framework here.

The young pioneer Sikh community saw that it was important: to create a rightful place, services, and environment to practice and preserve their faith, culture, sacred heritage and traditions for their generations and celebrations that are always welcoming for others who may wish to experience and witness its distinct character and defining nature and journey; and especially to work with civic and law enforcement organizations to dispel challenges of unfounded stereotyping, issues of mistaken identity and wrongful associations, workplace discrimination, bullying and harassment of children in schools, unprovoked violence and hate crimes due to their faith-mandated sacred articles of faith.

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Sikh leaders with FBI Officials and other guests

The Sikh Americans made a commitment to participate and contribute to better law enforcement and community relations to work with civic and political leaders, and become major partners and leaders in interfaith initiatives. Over the years, Sikhs have participated in countless civic and community celebrations (500 Festival Parade; International Festival; Indiana's Bicentennial Festivities); cultural and interfaith activities (Hunger Initiative; Disaster Relief; Spirit & Place Festivals; Indy Festival of Faiths) and generously give their time and energy to support worthy causes that benefit Hoosiers and fellow Americans. The Sikhs work with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and Transportation Service Authority-Homeland Security personnel offering cultural training. Six members of the Sikh community are graduates of the FBI Citizens Academy.

The Hoosier Sikhs opened their Gurdwaras and cultural celebrations for others to create better understanding about their faith, culture, and community. At the first major Sikh Gurdwara (Temple-Acton Road) in Indiana that opened in February 1999, Sikhs have had the honor to welcome many special guests and dignitaries (Mayors, Indiana Governor, State Legislators, U.S. Representatives, interfaith leaders, law enforcement officials, teachers, students, media and educators, and Hoosiers from across the State) to share our traditions, culture, and hospitality; to build mutually rewarding bridges and learn about our opportunities and responsibilities to be better Americans.

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Indianapolis FBI Special Agent in Charge with Sikh leaders

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Sikh leaders with FBI Officials and other guests


A number of special guests, including officers from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) office, visited the Sikh Gurdwara (Acton Road) on Sunday, February 12th. The distinguished and special guests were welcomed by the Sikh Satsang of Indianapolis. Renowned artist and interfaith leader, KP Singh (Volunteer Special Events Coordinator) and Maninder Walia, Past President and Chairman of Board of Trusties of the Sikh Satsang, were among those who received the guests:

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Visiting guests in the Gurdwara Sanctuary

From the FBI: Special Agent in Charge - Mr. Jay Abbott, Supervisory Special Agent and his wife; Supervisory Special Agent, Mr. Drew Northern and his wife; Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Alex Middleton; and Community Outreach Specialist - Ms. Kathryn Sipes. Joining them were guests from Children's Museum of Indianapolis: Collections Manager - Ms. Jennifer Noffze; From the Indiana Historical Society (located in The Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center): Nicole Martinez-LeGrand - Coordinator of Multicultural Collections and Maire (Mary) Gurevitz - Project Archivist; and From The Wabash Chamber Orchestra (Wabash College): Kappa Sigma - Mr. Steve Bazin visited the Gurdwara.

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KP Singh with Indianapolis FBI Special Agent in Charge

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FBI Community Outreach Specialist Kathryn Sipes with Chirjeev Oberoi

After the guests arrived, they met in the Library for a briefing before being taken to the Sanctuary. The visit was a part of our continuing efforts to give voice to Sikh concerns and reinforce cooperation between the Indiana Sikh community and the education, cultural, interfaith, civic, business, and law enforcement communities in Indiana.

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Indianapolis FBI Special Agent in Charge addressing the gathering

All special guests were introduced and the FBI guests were honored in the Diwan Hall (Gurdwara Sanctuary) with scarfs and the traditional Siropa to FBI Special Agent in Charge, Mr. Jay Abbott who was also presented a book on Sikh History. Replying to questions, Mr. Jay Abbott said, "it is the duty of the FBI to protect all Americans without any discrimination; he added that the FBI will welcome Sikh Americans to consider job opportunities in FBI." Following the remarks by Mr. Abbott, all guests and Sikh Satsang leaders including Chirjeev and Baljit Oberoi, Paramjit Dhadwal, Maninder Walia, Charandip Singh, Narvinder Bhola, Gurpreet Singh, and others returned to the Library for Langar (vegetarian lunch) where a very informative and robust discussions about the important work, employment opportunities, and special resources that are available to the Sikh Americans with the FBI; and about the fun, exciting, and creative things happening at the Indiana History Center and The Children's Museum of Indianapolis.

Kanwal Prakash Singh

<> Indianapolis, Indiana USA<> February 12, 2017<>

Photo Credit: Balbir Singh, Parveen Kumar, KP Singh
Photographs and Article Contribution: Balbir Singh, Parveen Kumar, Maninder Walia, KP Singh

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