South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley became nostalgic and emotional after visiting the Golden Temple in Amritsar on Saturday. She said that she was seeing the temple after 40 years.
Haley is on a visit to Amritsar with her husband and an American delegation. She is on a 10-day trip to India. After visiting the temple, the overwhelmed and emotional Haley could barely hold back her tears, and described her visit as ‘really special and emotional’.
“This is a very emotional and a very special day for the both of us. What I want everyone to know is that we are here to pay our respects, and, I am not here as governor. I am here as someone who feels honoured and special. It is a very special day.” she said.
Haley was born as Nimrata Nikki Randhawain in Bamberg, South Carolina, US, on January 20, 1972, to an Indian Sikh family. Her parents, Ajit Singh Randhawa and Raj Kaur Randhawa, are immigrants from Amritsar District. She has two brothers, Mitti and Charan, and a sister, Simran, born in Singapore. Haley is a graduate of Orangeburg Preparatory School and Clemson University with a BS in accounting.
“I had a lot of special things for my parents , but it is very special to be here, special to experience. I feel very honoured to be here, and, it took me forty years. But, it was worth the wait,” she said.
Haley was born and raised as a Sikh. On September 6, 1996, she married Michael Haley in both a Methodist church ceremony and in a Sikh gurdwara. Haley identifies herself today as a Christian. She said, “We converted to Christianity, but it was not political. It was out of the fact that when you change, when you grew up, you need more, and when you don’t understand the language.”
However, she said she was very proud of her upbringing, and very proud that she grew up in that environment. She said, “Christianity spoke to me that I could understand it. But, when you come to a holy place, you feel it.”
Later, at the Golden Temple Information Centre, Haley and her husband was honoured by Rajinder Singh Mehta, the senior executive member of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandhak Commitee (SGPC).