According to an e-mail newsletter circulated by United Sikhs (a United Nations-affiliated non-governmental organization), a Sikh American has, for the first time, offered a prayer at the United Nations General Assembly Opening Session. On February 14th, United Sikhs Associate Director Jatinder P. Singh participated in the interfaith service to open the session:
“In the company of Saints, all enemies become friends. In the company of saints, man becomes very pure…” He closed the prayer by adding, “ I truly hope one day, all the countries can get together at the United Nations and just pray for world peace. Sat Sri Akaal.”
United Sikhs provides additional photos of the event here.
UPDATE: This post has been updated several times since its original posting due to confusion about the report by United Sikhs that their representative was the first Sikh American to offer a prayer during the opening of the UN Assembly last month. A representative from United Sikhs contacted me over the weekend to clarify as follows.
According to Ashween Kaur, a United Sikhs representative, the previous instances below are those in which Sikh Americans have participated in interfaith ceremonies to mark the opening of UN General Assembly sessions, including:
- Harpreet Singh, Sikh Coalition Director of Community Relations at the 57th session of the UN General Assembly in 2002.
- Jagtar Singh Jachak, a United Sikhs delegate from New York at the 60th session of the UN General Assembly in 2005 and at the 61st session in 2006.
However, Ashween Kaur stated that these instances did not take place in the actual session, but were interfaith ceremonies held outside of the General Assembly:
“Every other instance where a Sikh American has offered prayers in the UN general assembly is actually part of interfaith meetings. Many such meetings happen but this is the first time a Sikh was invited to offer prayers during the opening ceremony of the general assembly in the main UN building in presence of all the UN and other leaders.”