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The Parliament of World Religions 2023: The Unwavering Support of the Sikh Community

In 2023, the city of Chicago witnessed a historic gathering of faith leaders, scholars, and enthusiasts from around the world. The Parliament of World Religions, a renowned interfaith organization, convened in the city, bringing together diverse religious traditions and philosophies. But amidst the rich tapestry of beliefs and practices, one community's dedication and service stood out prominently: the Sikh community.

The Sikh Ethos of Service


The Sikh faith, originating from the Punjab region of India, has always been rooted in the principles of selfless service (Seva) and universal love. These principles were on full display during the 2023 Parliament of World Religions. The Sikh community, in a remarkable demonstration of commitment and compassion, mobilized 3,000 volunteers for the event. What's even more commendable is that among these volunteers, 105 traveled all the way from London, showcasing the global unity and dedication of the Sikh diaspora.


A Testament to Dedication


The Parliament's board and staff didn't hesitate to express their profound gratitude to the Sikh community for their unparalleled support. Nitin Ajmera, Chair of the Board for the Parliament of World Religions, encapsulated this sentiment in his heartfelt words:


“I don't think we could have done this [event] without them. Starting from the parade of faiths, right? They just were there in buses. They came and look at the beauty. Their scriptures were walking the street. They were all there cleaning with the broom so that the streets are clean as the scriptures come in, showing us the value and the sanctity of our faith. Right, on with the langar, the food serving to 7000 people, the rain God showered upon us. So all the problems with that, but not one complaint, not one like, we will not be able to do it. Every member of the team was, how can we make it happen? What can we do to fix it? So they all come in, swept it, put another sheet of dry paper and it's plastic and we were there. We were ready again with the lunch, with the second day. So every programming, whether it's treatment, whether it's sessions, whether it's planner, Luminaries, where did I not see them as a heartbeat of the parliament?”

Langar: A Symbol of Universal Brotherhood


One of the most significant contributions of the Sikh community was the organization of the 'langar' – a community kitchen that serves meals to all, regardless of their faith, caste, or background. The concept of langar is central to Sikhism, symbolizing equality, unity, and the idea that we all sit and eat together as one human race. Despite the unexpected rain, which could have easily disrupted the service, the Sikh volunteers showcased resilience and adaptability. They swiftly cleaned up, ensuring that the meal service continued without a hitch. Serving food to 7,000 attendees was no small feat, but the Sikhs managed it with grace and efficiency.


Beyond the Langar: Presence Everywhere


But the Sikh community's involvement wasn't limited to the langar. As Nitin Ajmera pointed out, they were an integral part of every aspect of the Parliament. From the parade of faiths, where the sacred Sikh scriptures were paraded with reverence, to the various sessions and treatments, the Sikhs were omnipresent, ensuring everything ran smoothly.


Conclusion


The 2023 Parliament of World Religions in Chicago was not just a gathering of diverse faiths but also a testament to the power of community, service, and unity. The Sikh community, with its extraordinary dedication, set a shining example of what it means to serve selflessly. Their unwavering support and commitment ensured the success of the event, earning them the heartfelt gratitude of the Parliament's board, staff, and attendees. In a world often divided by differences, the Sikhs showed that love, service, and unity could transcend all barriers.

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