June 5, 2009 Sikh Conference at Library of Congress Highlights Traditions and History

Press Contact: Audrey Fischer (202) 707-0022
Public Contact: Remé Grefalda (202) 707- 6096

The history, culture and traditions of Sikhs worldwide will be the focus of a two-day national conference at the Library of Congress on June 18-19, 2009. Scholars, historians, authors, artists and industry leaders will gather to discuss Sikh-American contributions to the prosperity of American society.

The conference, “Taking Heritage to the 21st Century,” is free and open to the public, but space is limited. Advance registration is required by Thursday, June 11, 2009, at ADevents@loc.gov. The conference is sponsored by the Kaur Foundation under the auspices of the Library’s Asian Division and Asian Division Friends Society.

“Sikh-Americans have significantly contributed to every field of human endeavor from technology, commerce, health, science, agriculture, to the arts, further enriching the cultural fabric of this land of immigrants,” said Kaur Foundation President Mirin Kaur.

“As our nation grows and becomes more diverse, it is critical that we appreciate and understand the different backgrounds of all that make this country great,” said Asian Division Chief Peter Young.

The conference will begin with sessions from 1 to 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 18, in the Whittall Pavilion, located on the ground floor of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building at 10 First Street S.E., Washington, D.C. A film screening of “Cultural Safari” and other short documentaries about Sikh culture will be held 4 to 6 p.m. in the same location.

Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) will deliver a keynote address during the evening program from 7 to 8 p.m. on June 18 in the Jefferson Building’s Coolidge Auditorium, followed by a reception and photographic display in the Great Hall.

The second day of the conference will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. pm Friday, June 19 in the Montpelier Room, located on the sixth floor of the Library’s James Madison Building at 101 Independence Ave. S.E. The day will begin with remarks by Indiana Senator Richard G. Lugar.

Other speakers or moderators include Pushpinder Singh, executive editor of the Nishaan Magazine; radio talk-show host Kojo Nnamdi; Kenneth X. Robbins, a member of the Asian Division Friends Society Board of Directors; artist and activist Arpana Cour; contemporary artists Amrit and Rabindra Singh (The Singh Twins); and author F.S. Aijazuddin.

Topics include achievements of Sikh women in art; Sikh CEOs and industry leaders; Sikh royal artifacts; the court of Lahore: Maharaja Ranjit Singh; the last Maharaja: Duleep Singh; and the importance of establishing Sikh chairs in universities. For the complete program schedule and list of speakers, go to www.kaurfoundation.org/conference.html.

Conference events include a book signing by Patwant Singh and Jyoti Rai, authors of “Empire of the Sikhs: The Life and Times of Maharaja Ranjit Singh,” and a display of selected items from the Library’s Sikh collection in the Asian Reading Room.

The conference will also mark the launch of the Sikh Collection at the Library, part of the Library’s Asian American Pacific Islander Collection. The Library seeks to build this collection through acquisitions and donations of private papers from Asian Pacific American communities and to make them accessible to scholars and researchers.

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution. The Library seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its Web site at www.loc.gov and via interactive exhibitions on a new, personalized Web site at myLOC.gov.

The Library of Congress is the central repository for all types of Asian publications that are not broadly available at other locations in the United States. Initiated in 1869 with a gift of 10 works in 934 volumes offered to the United States by the Emperor of China, the Library’s Asian collection of more than 2 million items is the largest and most comprehensive outside of Asia. Visit the Asian Division at www.loc.gov/rr/asian/.


PR 09-115
ISSN 0731-3527