AMRITSAR: The first ever international branch of Sikh’s single largest representative body in the world Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has been incorporated as Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee USA INC in the Yuba City of California and its account have been opened in Bank of America, informed SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar while talking to media persons here on Friday.
The SGPC would set up a International Sikh Center at the 13.5 acres of land donated by USA’s prominent Sikh Didar Singh Bains with an aim to create awareness about Sikh religion, Sikh’s distinct identity, Sikh turban and propagate the teachings of Sikh Guru’s especially to the younger generation.
Didar Singh is also known as ‘Peach King’ of California for his farming business.
Makkar informed that SGPC had sent a four member delegation to visit Yuba City to complete the Incorporation formalities. The members included Senior Vice President Raghujit Singh Virk, General Secretary Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, Assistant Secretary PS Sarao and SGPC executive body member Rajinder Singh Mehta.
“They had held two meetings in Yuba City on September 26th and 28th to chalk out further plans of International Sikh Center” said Makkar while adding that the foundation stone of building of Center would be laid in February 2014. The SGPC USA INC would have seven members with a five years of term.
The International Sikh Center would have turban tying institute, weekly Gurmat classes, a preaching center besides a Gurdwara for which SGPC would send trained Ragi and Pathi from India.
Makkar informed that SGPC would send a container load of literature having insight into the Sikh religions, Sikh’s turban, Sikh’s distinct identity , Sikh culture and history etc. to Yuba City before annual Sikh parade held in Yuba City in the month of November .
“The Center will also work as base station for distribution of such literature to other countries of the world to dispel myths about Sikh’s identity ” said Makkar adding that SGPC would also explore the possibilities of printing of Sri Guru Granth Sahib at the Center.
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has received recognition from the US government, even as it strives back home for national status.
No Indian government has yet accepted it demand for an “all-India gurdwara Act” that will give it this status. The religious body, which manages Sikh shrines in Punjab and neighbouring states, now is registered officially in America as “SGPC USA Incorporated”.
The recognition came after the SGPC’s request to the US government for permission to built International Sikh Centre at Yuba City in California state for promoting Sikhism in America, Canada and the other countries in that region. This centre is proposed on 13.5 acres donated by US Sikh entrepreneur Didar Singh Bains.
“For getting the land registered and building the centre, the SGPC had to get itself registered under the US laws. This is a historic moment, as this is the first official recognition that the SGPC has got in the western world,” SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar told the media here on Friday.
SGPC delegation in US
A four-member SGPC delegation in the US helped complete the formalities for the registration of the new body. The delegation comprises SGPC senior vice-president Raghujit Singh Virk, general secretary Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, executive member Rajinder Singh Mehta and additional secretary Paramjit Singh Saroa.
Cases of hate crime against Sikhs prompted the SGPC to fast track the International Sikh Centre proposal. The centre’s foundation stone will be laid in February 2014. In November, the SGPC proposes to organise Nagar Kirtan’ (religious procession) in Yuba City on Guru Nanak Dev’s birth anniversary.
Besides preaching Sikhism, International Sikh Centre in Yuba City will explain the religion and its separate and distinct identity and articles of faith to the Americans. There have been cases of racial assault where Sikhs were mistaken as terrorists because of their turban. This global centre will coordinate with the US and other governments and, through literature in many languages, promote Sikh history, culture and Gurbani.