DELAWARE: The US State of Delaware has declared April as the 'Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month' in recognition of the contribution of the religious minority community.
Throughout this month, the public will be educated on what Sikhism truly is and what it stand for.
Delaware Governor John Carney in a proclamation declaring April as "Sikh Awareness Month" said the community have earned respect and appreciation through exceptional service to the community.
"The State of Delaware seeks to further the diversity of its community and afford Delawareans the opportunity to better appreciate the rich history of Sikh Americans," the proclamation read.
The State Assembly - House of Representatives and Senate -- simultaneously passed unanimous resolutions proclaiming April as 'Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month'.
The move gains significance because Delaware has a small Sikh population.
"Sikhs and Indian Americans are welcome in the state of Delaware with open arms," Carney told PTI after signing the proclamation.
Several legislators sported turbans during the unanimous passage of the Sikh legislation in the Delaware House of Representatives.
"Wearing this turban shows that we are also part of America.
Because of this resolution, for the second consecutive month, the identity and awareness about the Sikh community has increased in the state," local Sikh leader Charanjeet Singh Minhas told PTI outside the State Capital in Dover.
However, Minhas said, there was still a lack of awareness about Sikhism among people.
"There are still a lot of people who think that people with Turbans are members of the Taliban, member of Al Qaeda.
Turban is normally seen as anti-American, anti-western, which is not true.
This is what we are trying to correct," he said.
Noting that the Sikh community in America continues to peacefully overcome attacks on its members, as well as attacks on Sikh identity and practices; the Delaware House and Senate said that the current US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, was raised as a Sikh and in New Jersey, Gurbir Grewall became the first Sikh Attorney General in the US.
"One way that the Delaware Sikh community promotes love, respect, and peace for all is through billboards on I-95 that celebrate holidays such as Diwali, Thanksgiving, Guru Nanaks birthday, and Christmas;" the resolution read.
"Observance of "Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month" raises awareness of the contributions of Sikhs in Delaware to the economy and wider community," it read.
The resolution said that the State of Delaware stood with the Sikh community in denouncing hate crimes directed towards any individual on account of their religious beliefs.
It also said that since September 11, 2001, Sikhs are often mistaken for Taliban or followers of Al Qaida based upon their appearance and clothing.
"Since September 11, 2001, nationally, Sikhs have been subject to school harassment, employment discrimination, and fatal shootings," the resolution said.
Carney, a Democrat leader, said that a general anti-immigrant sentiment prevailed in the country.
"It is personally embarrassing to me," he said.
Delaware Senator Bryan Townsend, one of the key sponsors of the resolution, said that Sikh-Americans play a very important role in the economic development of the State.