Sikhs Join Interfaith Leaders and Dignitaries at Indiana Bicentennial Celebrations

KP Singh, shared some thoughts on the main theme of the Indiana Bicentennial Celebration:

A Prayerful Reflection: Kanwal Prakash Singh

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Indiana Bicentennial weekend began with a glittering Gala on December 10, 2016, attended by 700 distinguished invited guests: dignitaries, faith leaders, and Hoosiers from every walk of life at the transformed Indiana Farmers Coliseum. Honored dignitaries included: Vice President-Elect Indiana Governor Mike Pence and Mrs. Karen Pence; Indiana Governor-Elect Lt. Governor Eric Holcomb and Mrs. Janet Holcomb; members of the Indiana Bicentennial Commission; U.S. Congresswoman Susan Brooks, State Legislators, former Governor Evan and Susan Bayh. The evening was a showcase Hoosier pride: celebration of Indiana's rich legacy and legendary pioneers; highlights of remarkable journey and incredible opportunity to "Celebrate Indiana: Ignite the Future," by building upon the State's architectural and cultural heritage, emerging interfaith vitality, and attracting the brightest and best to lead these efforts.

Indiana became the 19th State of the Union on December 11, 1816. On official 200th Statehood Day, Sunday, December 11, 2016, many returned to witness and participate in the festivities open to the public. This celebration featured an interfaith messages from distinguished Hoosiers representing diverse religious traditions in Indiana. The interfaith segment was coordinated by Charlie Wiles, Executive Director of The Center for Interfaith Cooperation.

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Members of The Sikh Satsang of Indianapolis joined State leaders, faith representatives and some amazing performers to commemorate the Indiana Bicentennial. The program included special greetings from attending dignitaries: Vice President-Elect and Indiana Governor Mike Pence; Governor-Elect Lt. Governor Eric Holcomb; Indiana Bicentennial Ambassador First Lady Karen Pence; Tatum Parker (a cancer survivor); and a variety of speakers from diverse faith backgrounds as well as music, dance, and more. The faith speakers invited to address the gathering included: Invocation by Aarti Shah (Jain faith); Rabbi Sandy Sasso (Jewish faith - Congregation Beth-El Zedeck); Sister Norma Rocklage, OSF; David S. Kinard (Mormon -Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints); Minister Douglas Hairston (Mt. Zion Baptist Church, Indianapolis); Ala'a Wafa (Muslim faith); Kanwal Prakash Singh (Sikh faith); Rupal Thanawala (Hindu faith); Tenzin Namgyal (Hoosier Tibetan Buddhists).

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The Sikh Choir, under the leadership of Ragi (musical singer) Joginder Singh, gave a beautiful rendition of the sacred hymn of unity, shared humanity, and thanksgiving from the Sikh scriptures with traditional Indian musical instruments: "Na Ko Berri Nahin Bigana, Sugal Sung Hum Ko Bun Aayee: I have no enemy and no one is a stranger to me; I get along with everyone." English translation of the Sikh hymn was displayed on the giant screen. The Sikh Choir was coordinated by Maninder Walia, a Trustee and former President of The Sikh Satsang of Indianapolis. Hoosier Sikhs expressed great pride and honor to be a part of Indiana's historic 200th Statehood Day.

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KP Singh, an Indiana resident since 1967 and interfaith leader whose artwork has celebrated the State's outstanding architectural heritage, shared some thoughts on the main theme of the Bicentennial Celebration: "Celebrate Indiana: Ignite the Future." KP's remarks touched upon: "Faith, Interfaith and Cultures at America's Crossroads ~ Significance and Future." KP stated that the growing Sikh community in Indiana (over 5,000 Sikh families) has often joined the interfaith community in humanitarian initiatives, service projects, and community celebrations. KP challenged Indiana leaders to make room for new friends from other lands at civic and community tables so they too can make greater contributions with their talents, cultures, and experiences to further "Ignite the Future" of the State. KP reminded that today Indiana is home for an estimated 250,000 recent immigrants of diverse cultures from distant lands who live and work side by side with over 6.5 million Hoosiers. We need to seize upon the momentum of this collective energy, untapped unique assets and resources, and further strengthen the image and outreach of Indiana as a welcome, attractive, diverse, and vibrant destination.

Respectful positive environment is essential to inspire new and native Hoosiers to be proud partners in "igniting the future," together dispelling unfounded stereotyping and ending discrimination against fellow Americans; offering opportunities to learn about and from each other the values and ideals that we share; greatly enhancing the power to unify our common expectations and visions. This will be an unmistakable signal that in Indiana, all Hoosiers and their gifts matter, and will assure a better future.

The interfaith messages and presentations added unifying dimensions to a day of Celebration, to the spirit and dedication to a more hopeful future. The Bicentennial video offered a glimpse of the history, heritage, and Hoosier greats. The musical presentations: The Indianapolis Children's Choir; National Anthem by internationally renowned opera soprano, Angela Brown; Voices of Unity Youth Choir; Indiana University Jacobs School of Music brass musicians; The Sikh Choir; The Hunter Smith Band; inspired everyone attending and also the hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers who enjoyed the live telecast of Indiana's 200th Statehood Day Celebration.

The Celebration was a call to build upon the legacy entrusted to us by early settlers and hardy pioneers. New generations of amazingly-gifted innovators, trailblazers; enlightened visionaries have arrived here in search of dreams from all corners of the earth and represent once-unfamiliar faiths, cultural textures and traditions, new skills and critical assets. Our task is to integrate our many diverse and promising interests and visions into unifying commitments to build a future that benefits and honors all citizens. We can only imagine the undreamed-of ripple effect of such an enlightened-renaissance-of-thought in igniting a future that celebrates the amazing courage and sacrifices of early Hoosiers and invites the brave new generations of tomorrow to excel. Imagine inheriting an Indiana that is a "Crossroads of innovation and heritage; cultural attractions and limitless promise." Let us get to work!


The Bicentennial Commission was led by former U.S. Representative Lee Hamilton and former Indiana Lt. Governor Becky Skillman as Co-Chairs and Perry Hammock as Executive Director of the Indiana Bicentennial Commission. Across Indiana's 92 Counties over 1,500 special projects and events were initiated and designated as Bicentennial Legacy Projects: "Bison-tennial" Public Art Project, Bicentennial Plaza, Children's Learning Center, 50th Penrod Arts Fair, 2016 Asian Fest, The Indy Festival of Faiths, and an amazing variety of memorable and lasting projects.

Indiana's Bicentennial is a landmark milestone for Hoosiers and our friends across the continents. For me, The Sikh Satsang, and the interfaith and cultural communities, it was an honor to be invited to participate in such a special once-in-a lifetime moment in our State's remarkable journey.

<> <> Indianapolis, Indiana USA <> December 11, 2016 <>


Full Text of KP Singh Remarks:


Kanwal Prakash (KP) Singh

"Faith, Interfaith, and Cultures at America's Crossroads ~ Significance and Future"

Honored Distinguished Guests, Vice President-Elect Governor Mike Pence, First Lady Karen Pence, Governor-Elect Lt. Governor Eric Holcomb, Fellow Hoosiers, and Friends:

Sut Siri Akal: (a universal Sikh Greeting: God's Name is Eternal Truth). This Highest Immaculate Spirit is our shared Eternal Light and Guide.

It is a great honor and a special pleasure to be with you as we celebrate this milestone, the Bicentennial of the great State of Indiana. Congratulations to each of you on this historic occasion. We rejoice in the landmark moment and look forward to building Indiana's proud future together.


We can only imagine what life and times in Indiana and the world were like on December 11, 1816. Surely, the earlier settlers were facing very different challenges and formidable hardships, yet familiar hopes and prayers to build a better future for generations that follow. Today, we can see in the testimony of their trailblazing and labors in amazing accomplishments, a rich and robust legacy that carries many lessons and time-honored Hoosier values. We must assure a special place for the treasured heritage entrusted to us and thoughtfully integrate its spirit, lessons, and beautiful elements into the future vision and fabric of our State.

Whereas we cannot imagine or fully fathom what our State and world would be like when Indiana reaches another milestone a hundred years from today, on December 11, 2116, we can hope that with the new generations of the brightest and the best pioneers, leaders, and ambassadors; and with incredible new technologies, travel and trade, cultural energy and opportunities converging at our landlocked friendly shores, Indiana would have leaped forward on many fronts.

We can imagine an Indiana: Not just as the "Crossroads of America" with intersecting and encircling highways, but an envied and celebrated crossroads of cultures, innovation, sports, and education; a destination with many faith and interfaith attractions; a fabled Heartland of legendary Hoosier hospitality and global partnerships.

We can imagine an Indiana where cherished traditions and new frontiers of ideas coexist, drawing strength from each other; where unexplored horizons, assets, and strengths lead to new prospects without limits; and where Indiana is at peace with her neighbors and the world of that time.


Each of us has a stake in such a future. Faith communities, including the growing Sikh American population, cultural groups, interfaith leaders, and faith-based community initiatives have much to contribute to Indiana's future. For that to happen, we have to build upon the idea of a shared vision and collective responsibility. We need to create spaces at our family, civic, and community tables for all Hoosiers; invite diverse cultural, spiritual, and ethnic groups to mainstream their concerns, invest their energy and brilliant ideas; promote and honor a solemn commitment that all faiths, cultures, and citizens matter and a master-key to igniting Indiana's future.

Let us reflect on the spirit and amazing reception of such an invitation:

"Come create a State that reflects the spirit of all people.
Share with us your talents and cultural experiences;
Enrich the emerging "Tapestry of Cultures"
The sacred Fabric of Faiths
With sounds and splendor of the distant and diverse,
With ideas and ideals that celebrate your heritage and traditions.
Together: Discover the excitement and echo of our common humanity,
(and) Spirit that unites us as One Universal God's Children,
(and) Shape a proud legacy that mirrors an enlightened vision.

Let us make a place at the table for new friends and old,
Share our common dreams and build a community
Where the Light and Labor of each one
Enhances the gifts and promise of all." - Kanwal Prakash Singh


Indiana's Bicentennial Celebration is a significant moment for the State and all Hoosiers. Indiana has been my home since 1967. I have learned much from discovering Indiana and introducing the State's architectural landmarks and historic sites with my drawings and writings to Hoosiers and people around the world. As a founding member of the International Center, Center for Interfaith Cooperation, and other civic engagements, I have had the unique privilege to witness over the past half century, amazing new energy, distinct perspectives, and creativity brought by people of diverse faiths and cultures converging here; making the "Crossroads of America" home to explore their dreams. We have to seize our collective momentum and build upon our widening crossroads.

I am excited about Indiana's Bicentennial as a recent pilgrim and pioneer. As a passionate advocate of historic and cultural preservation; involvement in the arts and education; community and interfaith initiatives, I have been privileged to witness up-close and personal Indiana's amazing leaps and forward momentum. As a Sikh American, I am grateful for the welcome and support that I have received since coming to Indiana. Today, as Indiana begins its third century of Statehood, many Sikhs and members of other faiths, cultural and ethnic communities are eager to pick up the torch and contribute to Indiana's prosperity. Let us take steps to ignite our future with the brightest and best, with dedicated and dynamic visionaries leading us. With Hoosier pride in tradition and eyes on the future, we will entrust a vibrant Indiana to the coming generations.

<> <> Indianapolis, Indiana USA <> December 11, 2016 <>

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