Sikh American makes history as Giani delivers U.S. Senate morning prayer

Sen. Patrick Toomey (R-Pa.), poses for a photo with Sukhvinder Singh, who delivered invocation in the U.S. Senate chamber Oct. 16.

Giani (priest) Sukhvinder Singh of the Philadelphia Sikh Society Gurdwara created history Oct.16 when he became the first Sikh to deliver invocation in the U.S. Senate chamber.

In his prayer Giani Sukhvinder Singh touched on the commonalities shared by all faithful as he asked for guidance for the senators and all Americans.

“By the grace of the true Guru, Almighty God, we call you by many names, but you are one,” he said. “Keep your divine hand over the members of the Senate as they help steer the future of our great nation. (Put) love in our hearts and sound judgement in our minds. Remind us of our purpose to love and serve one another and create a more peaceful world.”

According to news reports, U.S. Sen. Patrick Toomey, R-Pa., invited Singh and other Sikhs from Delaware County to the morning prayer and an evening reception. The contingent of Sikhs descended on the nation's capital to celebrate the 550th anniversary of the birth of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism.

“There had never been a Sikh delivering the opening prayer," Toomey said. “I think it was kind of overdue for the Sikhs."

The news reports said on the floor of the Senate, Sen. Toomey explained that Guru Nanak was born in Pakistan into a Hindu household in 1469. “Guru Nanak showed a keen interest in religion from very early on in his life,” the senator said.

“It was an honor to welcome Giani Sukhvinder Singh of Millbourne, Delaware County to the Senate today,” the senator tweeted later.

Raj Singh, one of the 56 Sikhs from the Upper Darby area who traveled to Washington for the commemoration, was quoted by Delaware County Daily Times as saying that the community felt happy and proud of the Senate invocation by a Sikh priest.

“We feel so proud, we feel welcomed,” he said. “We are a part of the fabric of Pennsylvania, the United States and Delaware County. Every Sikh wants to do much more for the country we adopted, this country we will live and die for,” he said.

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