CULTURE AND CIVIC PRIDE BEGIN THE NEW YEAR
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
January 30, 2012
Kanwal Prakash Singh
Culture, diversity, civic pride, and festive celebrations highlighted the month of January. In recent decades, people in Indiana have been introduced to new religious and cultural celebrations, multi-cultural weddings, traditional festivals, and world-class performers. Travel, internet technology, and transcending frontiers have brought the distant near and friendly cultural exchanges at new crossroads. We are discovering unimagined opportunities to stay connected with the lands and cultures of our origin and creating new ways to preserve ancient and time-honored traditions in places that are our new home. We see past cultural boundaries fading; we welcome the opportunity to experience celebrated traditions of other communities.
PUNJABI LOHRI CELEBRATION
The 2012 Lohri Festival celebration at the India Community Center in Indianapolis was like a spiritual renewal, a cultural revival; a fabulously colorful window to the culture, community, robust folkdances, and vibrant Punjabi spirit. It was wonderful to see the power of the music and friendliness inspire the members of the Lafayette Square Super International Celebrations Committee to the dance floor to create a memorable multi-cultural symphony in ethnic pride, festive spirit, and kinship. The amazing and overwhelming feeling that we witnessed was a community having fun, discovering common threads in dance and music, and enjoying togetherness at the Punjabi winter celebration.
It was simply beautiful. Brilliant colors, exuberance, tradition, heritage, pride, laughter, and friendliness best defined the 2012 Punjabi Lohri Celebration in Indiana. Lohri was sponsored by several families and organized by The Sikh Educational & Cultural Society of Indianapolis. Jasvir Singh Lalli, President of Sikh Satsang and the Lohri Celebration Committee, led by Narvinder Singh and Pinka Singh, made this year’s Lohri a memorable event.
Everyone contributed to the success of the evening. Many wore richly embroidered festive attire, proudly showed their dancing skills to the robust Punjabi Giddha and Bhangra music. There was an air of joy and friendliness. People had come to have a good time and give a rocking welcome to another year. The over three hundred-strong, multi-cultural and multi-generational gathering enthusiastically affirmed the growing cultural and spiritual fabric of our city. New ethnic celebrations are now an integral part of the community calendar and define the international spirit of the State of Indiana.
It was wonderful to see that several members from the Lafayette Square International Super Celebrations (February 2-4) Committee come in their fabulous native and festive costumes and show their amazing comfort and excitement to be a part of the Punjabi Lohri Celebration. They enjoyed the experience and loved being in the crowd on the dance floor, rocking to the Bhangra and Giddha music.
The captured images offer just a glimpse of the visual richness of the spirit and fun at the Punjabi Lohri, one of the most important winter festivals on the Sikh Calendar. The Punjabi food, prepared by India Palace Restaurant, and the traditional snacks were a delightful fare and added another delicious highlight to the celebration.
The planned Super Celebration International Nights: World Party at Lafayette Square Welcome Center (February 2-4) promise another fascinating dimension to the City’s rich ethnic, cultural, and international spirit to friends and visitors from around the U.S.A. during the Indianapolis Super Bowl week. Downtown Indianapolis has been transformed into a “rocking welcome village” to dazzle an estimated crowd of over 100,000 during the Super Bowl XLVI.
INDIANAPOLIS MAYOR’S CELEBRATION OF DIVERSITY
The Mayor's 2012 Celebration of Diversity Awards Luncheon offered another reminder about the City's emerging cultural and spiritual richness. We applauded the multi-dimensional efforts in recent years to make diversity, ethnic celebrations, and multi-cultural events an important part of the City’s pride, outreach, and community fabric.
The annual awards recognize local businesses and organizations for promoting diversity; they reinforce the idea that Indiana's window to the world has greatly widened over the last four decades and that the "winds of culture" are flowing much more freely here because of the encouragement of our civic, community, educational, and faith leaders.
This promising transition that diversity is our vital and cherished frontier of opportunity is cause for celebration. The Diversity Award winners had distinguished themselves in making diversity a major priority in their businesses, institutions, and organizations. It was a great honor to offer the Invocation at the Awards Luncheon. The efforts and commitment of our Honorable Mayor Greg Ballard and Mrs. Ballard is very noteworthy, for they have made the vision and promise of supporting diversity in all its myriad facets a personal passion.
INAUGURAL CEREMONIES ON NEW YEAR DAY
At a ceremony rich in tradition and surrounded by several hundred friends and dignitaries, Mr. Greg Ballard took the Oath of Office from Judge David Certo, Marion Superior Court, to become the 48th Mayor of Indianapolis. In his remarks, Mayor Ballard promised a vigorous pursuit of his agenda in his second term. He reminded the assembled guests that a promising “capital moment” is awaiting Indianapolis, beyond its established recognition as the “amateur sports capital of the world” and the “racing capital of the world.” Mr. Ballard called upon City leaders “to seize the opportunity presented by a changing world to make Indianapolis the capital of the new Midwest.”
It was a special honor to be invited to offer the Benediction at the Inaugural Ceremony, and have my artwork featured on the commemorative posters distributed on this historic occasion.
Mayor Ballard’s commitment to diversity and making Indianapolis a welcome destination for all cultures and communities is sincere and passionate. Mayor and Mrs. Ballard have visited the Sikh temple (Acton Road) in Indianapolis twice during his first term. Mayor Ballard envisions a more robust engagement and mainstreaming of diversity to serve Indianapolis.
THE YEAR OF THE DRAGON
The Indianapolis Chinese Community Center presented a spectacular celebration of the Chinese New Year at the magnificent world-class performance hall, The Palladium, in Carmel, Indiana. It was a showcase of Chinese arts, culture, tradition, folklore, and contemporary adaptations. There were breathtaking performances of dance and music by the children, young adults, and professionals. The elaborately decorated Chinese Dragons and Chinese Lions danced and provided a spectacular backdrop throughout the evening. There was a colorful parade of beautiful costumes worn by the dancers and performers manifesting a joyful and fascinating welcome to the Chinese New Year. There are about 10,000 Chinese American in Indiana.
As one watched the brilliantly choreographed pageantry, one’s mind travelled to other times and places in distant lands. We witnessed awesome creativity, discipline, and cultural splendor before us that provided a window to ancient people and their pastimes. It is beautiful that the once-distant cultures have crossed the frontiers of time and space and are today being shared with new audiences across an increasingly interconnected world. The Dragon, according to Chinese tradition and folklore, symbolizes a universally-cherished strength and prosperity.
May arts, culture, and goodwill across faiths and communities serve as a bridge to peace and prosperity and a new hopeful day in our global-village.
MAYOR’S CELEBRATION OF DIVERSITY LUNCHEON
JW Marriott, Indianapolis, Indiana USA
January 11, 2012
INVOCATION: KP Singh
LORD OF THE UNIVERSE AND ALL CREATION
We come to you in prayer and in thanksgiving.
WE HAVE GATHERED HERE TO CELEBRATE:
The richness of life, ideas, our emerging renaissance;
The growing manifestation of faiths and ethnic traditions,
Cultures and communities that make up central Indiana today;
WE ARE HERE TO HONOR:
The many ways we have embraced our new friends
From the farthest corners of the Earth;
Many ways that we are putting our diversity to work
In together building our City; our crossroads of pride and peace.
MAY WE RECOGNIZE ALL BLESSINGS IN OUR MIDST
Identify, discover, and integrate our assets into the fabric of our City;
Enrich our lives, legacy, and community with unimagined new possibilities.
MAY WE OPEN OUR HEARTS AND BROADEN OUR TRUST
Extend an invitation that affirms our founding prayer:
“Come create a City that reflects the spirit of all people
Share with us your talents and cultural experiences,
Enrich the emerging “Tapestry of Cultures”
The sacred “Fabric of Faiths”
With the sounds and splendors of the distant and diverse,
With ideas and ideals that celebrate your heritage and traditions.
Together discover the excitement and echo of our shared humanity,
Spirit that unites us as One Universal God’s Children;
Shape a legacy that mirrors our shared vision.”
GIVE US THE WISDOM TO WITNESS YOUR PRESENCE
“Let us make a place at the table for new friends and old,
Share our common dreams and shape a community
Where the Light and Labors of each one
Enhance the gifts and promise of all.”
MAY “OUR CROSSROADS” BE “WELCOME DESTINATIONS”
For all who come in peace, to serve and share in the bounty of Your myriad blessings;
MAYOR GREG BALLARD INAUGRATION CEREMONIES
Indiana War Memorial Indianapolis, Indiana USA
January 1, 2012
Prayer Reflection-Benediction: Kanwal Prakash Singh
LORD OF THE UNIVERSE AND ALL CREATION
Let Your Light shine on all who are gathered; all who lead and serve;
Those who tirelessly strive and make room for a stranger;
May your unbound benevolence dispel all darkness; end every struggle;
Your friendly winds usher in a transforming renaissance
That captures every imagination, and leads our worthy prayers forward;
LORD, BLESS US WISDOM, TEACH US TO WORK IN HARMONY
To bridge differences that divide human energy and to preserve precious resources;
With unity of purpose, impeccable integrity, respecting thoughtful voices:
To honor inalienable rights, individual dignity, and sacred freedoms;
To seek common ground and insightful daring approaches
To solve critical problems and advance ideas that truly matter.
Let service, not politics, govern our conscience and our actions:
Know that a Higher Power watches our every step and misstep.
Rejecting choices, distractions and decisions that diminish our humanity,
May we focus on time-honored history, our limitless promise, our sense of destiny;
BLESS OUR HONORABLE MAYOR GREG BALLARD
As he recommits to the daunting task of governing and leading our great City,
Bless Mrs. Ballard, one of the finest First Ladies of cities across this Nation.
Bless friends and families, the members of the City County Council,
The staff and administrators chosen by Mayor Ballard as his Team;
Bless all generations who have made our City an All-American model for our Nation.
May we seek to integrate brilliant ideas and develop plans and policies
That help create undreamed-of opportunities and rewards for our future;
May we put our growing diversity to work, to serve in new and creative ways;
May we open our window to the world, attract the brightest and best from every land,
Making Indianapolis the finest welcoming destination among the emerging world-class cities:
Where people are friendly, life is good, neighborhoods are safe, citizens are rightly proud;
Where the arts and cultural life are vibrant, business and sports fascinate the world;
Where, as Americans, we overcome our trying hurdles with prayerful resolve;
Where the people’s business is the highest solemn mandate for every public official;
LORD, BY YOUR GRACE, ALL IS POSSIBLE
We offer our thanks for this landmark day in the life of our City.
May we, working in solidarity, rededicate to making our City, Nation, and Your Earth
A place to do good things; live in peace and honor the sanctity of each moment before us;
“May we go forth with a collective resolve and prayer to serve Your Creation.”