Concluding festivities lasted the weekend of October 13-14.
Saturday, October 13
6.00 to 8.00 PM
Diwan & Honoring of Dignitaries
Sunday, October 14
11.00 AM onwards
Nagar Kirtan (parade)
Dignitaries Rush to Grand Finale of 100th anniversary of Stockton Sikh Temple
by Dr. Amrik Singh (Centennial Committee Media Coordinator)
The 100th anniversary of Pacific Coast Khalsa (Free Divine Communion) Society Stockton, California incorporated on 27th May, 1912, concluded on October 14, 2012 with a Sikh Parade in the city of Stockton. The society established the First Sikh Temple of the United States within five months of its incorporation. South Grant Street, on which the religious flag unfurled amid objections from some of the neighboring residents in 1912, has now been changed to Sikh Temple Street. Stockton City Mayor Ann Johnston dedicated it to 100 years of eventful history of the Stockton Sikh Temple.
The San Joaquin Valley’s prominent newspaper, The Record, covered stories related with Stockton Gurdwara from time to time. On November 22, 1915, when the new Gurdwara was inaugurated, The Stockton Record gave an honorable space in its popular pages. “The new Sikh Temple of the Pacific Coast Khalsa Diwan (free divine communion) Society was dedicated yesterday with impressive ceremonies. The day selected for the formal opening of the new temple, which is located at 1936 South Grant Street, was the 426th anniversary of the birth of Guru Nanak, founder of the faith.”
Stockton Gurdwara became a hallowed site as it provided roots to the Sikh community, and inspired them to even lay down their lives for freedom of India from the British rule. Though individually, Sikhs could not buy land in their names, but as a community they held the title to the property of Gurdwara and started functioning as an institution immediately thereafter. Founders instituted the Guru Gobind Singh Scholarship to fund education of talented young Indians who were selected without any consideration to their ethnic background, caste or creed. Stockton Gurdwara also funded a delegation to Washington, D.C. in 1914 to testify at a Congressional hearing on the issue of granting citizenship rights to all Asians.
The Grand Finale of Stockton Gurdwara Centennial concluded in two phases on October 13 and 14, 2012. The event was marked with great fanfare by dignitaries expressing their feelings about the centennial events marking the hundredth year of Pacific Coast Khalsa Diwan (Free Divine Communion) Society as the first settlement of Sikhs in the US.
White House Office of Public Engagement Associate Director Mr. Paul Monteiro came all the way from Washington, D.C. to read President Obama’s message: “Stockton Gurdwara Sahib stands as a testament to the trials and triumphs Sikh-Americans have experienced; serves as a center for civic, political, and social life; and displays the principles of equality, service, interfaith cooperation, and respect that Sikh-Americans share with people across our nation.” Mr. Monteiro, on behalf of the President, congratulated the Sikh community on 100th year of the USA’s first Sikh settlement.
The Mayor of the City of Stockton, Ms. Ann Johnston, besides announcing the change of S. Grant St. to Sikh Temple St., recounted how Sikhs remain an integral part of the landscape of the city. City Police Chief Mr. Eric Jones and San Joaquin Sheriff’s Captain Tom Desmarais assured their support to Sikh community and also invited them to apply for positions in the police department. Stockton City Councilmember Dale Fritchen, Stockton Planning Commission member Samuel E. Fant and Councilmember Susan T. Eggman thanked the Sikh community for inviting them on a historical day. Congressman Tom McClintock said Sikhs have a great history of peaceful coexistence in the United States of America. Ricky Gill, a Sikh-American candidate for the US Congress, spoke about the historical importance of Stockton Gurdwara and the role of pioneers in supporting American economy for the last 100 years. Congressman Jerry McNerney congratulated the community over their wonderful achievements during their more than 100 year presence in the United States of America.
The author of AB 1964, Assemblymember Mariko Yamada, expressed her feelings about the Sikh community’s 100 year trials and tribulations in facing extensive rejection while still contributing positively to the American social life. West Sacramento Gurdwara’s media chief Darshan Singh Mundy thanked the assembly member for being a great friend of the community.
The 2012 California Senate Resolution: “Relative to the 100 Year Anniversary of the Sikh-American Community,” introduced by Senator Lois Wolk, coauthored by Assemblymember Cathleen Galgiani and approved by Governor Jerry Brown, figured in talks of many speakers. Assemblymember Galgiani dedicated it to the memory of Sikh pioneers who left a wonderful legacy for all Americans.
Mr. Sarbjit Singh, Store Manager of Well Fargo Bank presented a check of $5000.00 on occasion of the Grand Finale of centennial events.
Dr. Jasbir Singh Kang of Punjabi American Heritage Society gave a presentation about Sikh Pioneers’ lives and their views about India’s independence. Dr. Rajwant Singh, Chairman of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education, stressed the need of a turbaned congressman in Washington, D.C. to clear the confusion of Americans about Sikhs. Amardeep Singh Bhalla, Commissioner of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Commissioner on President’s Advisory, elaborated on President Obama’s concerns about Sikhs becoming a target of hatred after 9/11.
Kuljit Singh Nijjar, Secretary of Pacific Coast Khalsa Diwan Society; Sonny Dhaliwal, Lathrop City Councilman; and Bhajan Singh Bhinder, Coordinator of the Centennial Committee, conducted the three hour long program of honoring the dignitaries. Manjit Singh Uppal, Chairman of Centennial Committee, thanked all the guests for supporting Stockton Gurdwara and the community on a historical day. Dr. Harbhajan S. Shergill and Mr. Baldev Singh were appreciated for their special efforts to prepare the museum in record time. Mr. Uppal thanked all members of the Gurdwara Management Committee for making all events a great success. He said it would not have been possible without the overwhelming financial support of the community members.
Hardial Singh of United Sikhs, Hardeep Grewal of Sikh Coaliton, Dr. Pritpal Singh of American Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee, Dr. Amarjit Singh of Khalistan Affairs, Dr. Gurmeet Singh Aulakh of Council of Khalistan, Jagdeep Singh Dhillon of The Stockton Record, Gurinder Singh Manna of Sikh Youth of America, Harjot S. Khalsa of Punjabi Radio USA, Jaspreet Singh Lavla of California Gatka Dal, Gurpatwant Singh Pannu of Sikhs for Justice, Prof. Gurvinder S. Dhaliwal from Canada and representatives of various organizations were also in attendance.