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Month of April was Designated as Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month in Illinois

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Poster presentation at Palatine Gurdwara by Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker on Aug 3, 2019 (Photo tweeted by the governor)

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PALATINE, IL: The month of April was designated as “Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month” by the Illinois General Assembly. State of Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed Bill HB 2832 into law on August 3, 2019 designating “April as Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month” in the state of Illinois. The event took place at Sikh Religious Society (SRS) Palatine Gurdwara. A mini temporary outdoor office of the Governor was set up in the picturesque front lawn of the gurdwara building, near “Nishan Sahib” to conduct the gubernatorial signing ceremony per their official protocol.

Governor Pritzker was surrounded by overjoyed members of the Sikh community in the premises of the gurdwara near “Nishan Sahib” where he signed the bill in the presence of more than 200 Sikhs and guests.

“As we shape our state to be a place that embraces our future with open arms, we would do well to take a page from the Sikh community. That’s why I’m proud to sign this legislation designating the month of April as Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month,” said Governor J.B. Pritzker amid applause from the Sikh community members assembled at the premises of the Palatine Gurdwara in August 2019.

“We celebrate you as an integral part of the Illinois community. We are tremendously proud that so many Sikhs call this state their home,” tweeted Governor Pritzker. ” I hope the new law will provide greater understanding of the Sikh community,” he had added.

The HB2832 Bill had first passed the house vote bearing signatures of the then Speaker of the House of Representatives Michael J. Madigan, and the then Senate President John J. Cullerton.

The State Commemorative Dates Act was amended by adding Section 8 which states –

“Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month. The month of April of each year is designated as Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month to be observed throughout the State as a month to recognize the many ways that Sikh Americans have influenced American history, achievement, culture, and innovation.”

State Representative Michelle Mussman had sponsored the bill which was co-sponsored in the House by State Representatives, Fred Crespo, Stephanie Kifowit, Tom Morrison, Karina Villa and Jonathan Carroll and supported by many others including Mark Walker, Mark Kalish, Theresa Mah, and Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz.

The bill was filed in the Senate by the then Senate President John Cullerton and supported by Illinois Senators Ann Gillespie, Laura Murphy, Laura Ellman, Ram Villivalam among many others. The bill passed in both houses. The governor’s signatures on August 3, 2019 made it into a law effective January 1, 2020.

Due to the ongoing Covid 19 pandemic, the events to celebrate April 2020 were canceled except Covid 19 relief activities like a food pantry, providing free food to the needy, weekly lunches at Salvation Army, food and shelter to a few international families stuck in the Chicago area due to travel ban.

The month of April was chosen because of its significance to the Sikh community. It includes “Khalsa Saajna Divas” (birth of the Khalsa order) on April 14, 1699, and also birth of the founder of Sikh faith Guru Nanak Dev ji on April 14, 1469. The Punjabi cultural harvest festival of “Vaisakhi” also falls on April 14. The second Sikh Guru Angad Dev ji was born on April 18, 1504, and the ninth Guru Teg Bahadur ji was born on April 18, 1621.

So this year we are celebrating the 400th birth anniversary of the Sikh’s ninth Guru Teg Bahadur ji.

Several events and activities all through the month of April have been planned by the Sikh Religious Society to create awareness about the Sikhs in Illinois. Those include teaching classes on Sikhism, having Sikh Displays in Local libraries, providing food at homeless shelters, proclamations and resolutions in the State, Townships and city level governments.

A blood donation drive has been organized at Sikh Religious Society Palatine Gurdwara on Sunday, April 18, 2021 from 8 AM to 1 PM. Walk-ins are welcome.

If interested in participating in any of these Sikh Awareness activities please contact the Sikh Religious Society in Palatine, Illinois.

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