Tampa (Florida): A Sikh priest has scripted history by offering invocation at the Republican National Convention, where he was invited by the party as part of its "healing touch" effort towards the community shocked by the
Wisconsin gurdwara massacre.
Ishwar Singh, the head priest of the Sikh Society of Central Florida, offered invocation and brief opening remarks at the start of the convention's second days' proceedings here yesterday, immediately after America's national anthem. "It was a great day for me and the Sikh community," Singh told PTI after creating history.
This is the first time in the history of Republican national conventions that a Sikh went to the stage to offer invocation.
"It is a great honour for me to be here today as a Sikh and as an American. I am proud that my country cherishes the values of freedom, equality and dignity," Singh, sporting a white pagri, said in his remarks in front of thousands of Republicans who had gathered from all across the country to nominate Mitt Romney as their presidential candidate.
Singh was invited for the invocation by the Republican party as part of its "healing touch" effort towards the Sikh community which was shocked and shattered by the killing of six worshippers in a gurdwara in Wisconsin on 5 August.
"We are deeply saddened by recent acts of violence, including the mass shooting of Sikh-Americans in our gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Let us end hate against all people and remember that we truly are one nation under God," he said.
"This evening, as we come together at the Republican National Convention to help decide the future of our nation, let us remember love and oneness," Singh said. Singh concluded his invocation with the last line of Ardaas, the Sikh prayer of supplication: "Nanak nam chardi kala, tere bhane sarbat da bhala" and explained it in English: "In the Name of God, Vaheguru, we find everlasting optimism. Within Your Will, we pray for the upliftment of all humanity."
Earlier in an opinion piece on the CNN website, Singh wrote that his prayer was an opportunity to share the spirit of the Sikh faith with the American people.
The tenets of Sikhism -- humility, equality, and justice -- lie at the heart of the American ethic.
"The prayer calls upon the American public to join with us in recognition that we are one family. As an immigrant, a small-business owner and a father, I am humbled by the opportunity to address the nation.
"When I came to this country over 40 years ago, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine the honour of offering a prayer for the nation. My story is possible only in America," he wrote.