Sikh American History Showcased at 2015 Rose Parade

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Float generates buzz and significant Sikh awareness; featured Sikh men and women who have dedicated their lives to service and community

On January 1, 2015, Sikh American history was featured on the first-ever Sikh American float during the 127th annual Rose Parade. As a result of a collaboration with the United Sikh Mission, SikhLens, Khalsa Care Foundation, SALDEF (Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund), and dedicated Sikhs from around the country, the float highlighted Sikh American values, Sikh history in the United States, and over 125 years of contributions to American society.

Rashpal Singh Dhindsa, founder, United Sikh Mission commented, “We are proud of the float and what it represents. Rose Parade attendees and viewers gained an understanding of the Sikh value of hard work and giving back to the greater community.”

The first structure Rose Parade viewers saw was of the Stockton Gurdwara, the first Sikh house of worship that was established in the United States, 102 years ago. The float also included a cornucopia and a locomotive, which represented Sikh Americans who were laborers and farmers in 1903.

Americans met 11 fellow Sikh Americans who have dedicated their lives to serving all of America in some way, including men and women who are members of California-based police forces, the national Army, a Boy and Girl Scout, and civil rights advocates. Harinder Kaur Khalsa, deputy sheriff, Alameda County remarked, "It was truly a honor to be on the Sikh float in the Rose Parade. The crowd was enthusiastic and embracing. I made eye contact and smiled with thousands of people in the span of two hours. Although I didn't know any of them, I felt connected to them.”

The first-ever Sikh American float was well-received in a variety of mediums, whether it was on Twitter or in-person on the flower-filled streets of Pasadena. Jasjit Singh, executive director, SALDEF comments, “As the oldest Sikh American civil rights organization, in our work we too often see the results of ignorance and bias. It is significant to see American ideals imbued in how the Sikh American float was received at the Rose Parade. All audiences embraced the differences between us and recognized our commonality.”

Editor’s Note: Contact media(at)saldef(dot)org or 202-393-2700 x 126 for photography, interviews, additional information, and testimonials from Rose Parade viewers and Sikh participants

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Sona Simran Kaur
+1 202-393-2700 Ext: 126
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