White House Hosts Event Celebrating ‘Remarkable Life’ of Sikh Religion’s Founder

The White House on Thursday will host a celebration of the 547th birth anniversary of the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak Dev Ji.

The event, held in conjunction with the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF), is the latest in a series that has taken place at the White House over the past several years. The first took place in 2009.

“The Sikh American community appreciates the White House for hosting this celebration to commemorate the birth anniversary of the first Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak Sahib,” Kavneet Singh, a member of the SALDEF board of directors, told NBC News in an email. “His remarkable life exemplified his values of: the innate equality of all human beings, to fight against injustice and oppression in all forms, to celebrate both the inner-connectedness and the diversity we have in society, and to live with empathy, humility and love."

“These values seem particularly poignant today with the many struggles and challenges we see across the county, and across the world, related to religious and social intolerance, inequality, injustice," he continued.

Expected attendees include members of Congress and Sikh-American leaders from across the United States.

In addition to commemorating Sikhism’s founder, Thursday’s White House event will also celebrate achievements of Sikh Americans.

This year’s celebration is among other events SALDEF has previously sponsored in Washington.

During langar, guests eat vegetarian meals sitting at the same level as each other and no one is turned away. Courtesy of SALDEF

Earlier this year, the group sponsored its third “Langar on the Hill.” Langar is a 500-year-old Sikh tradition established by Guru Nanak Dev Ji where food is served to all guests regardless of religion, faith, gender, caste, or background free of charge. Everyone is served a vegetarian meal and sits on the floor while eating together. The drew more than 500 attendees, which SALDEF said made it the largest Sikh-American community event.

RELATED: Sikhs, DC Community Share Ideas, Meal at Third Langar on the Hill

Sikh Americans have been in the United States for more than a century, according to SALDEF. An estimated 700,000 Sikhs live in the United States.

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