By Madhu Krishnamurthy
Cook County recently joined a growing list of counties and towns to adopt a resolution honoring the Sikh community and the contributions of Sikh Americans.
Cook County Commissioner Scott Britton presented a resolution recognizing April as Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month to 50 members of the Sikh Religious Society in Palatine, the largest gurdwara in the Midwest.
In 2011, the Sikh Coalition helped create and pass the nation's first Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month in California. Since then, 14 more states have adopted similar resolutions and proclamations honoring Sikhs, including Illinois in 2019.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the new law designating April as Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month at the Palatine gurdwara. It took effect on Jan. 1, 2020.
"In 2020, we could not observe it because of COVID," said Irwin Preet Singh, past president of the Palatine society. "Members of Sikh Religious Society are working with their own counties and villages to make sure this is recognized."
Vaisakhi -- one of the most historically significant days of the year for Sikhs -- falls on April 14 each year. It's a harvest festival celebrated across the Punjab region of India. In 1699, Guru Gobind Singh chose the festival to establish the Khalsa -- the collective name given to Sikhs who have been baptized. April 15 marks the birth of Guru Nanak, the founder and the first of 10 gurus of Sikhism.