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Annual Kirtan at the National Cathedral

By Avneet Kaur, Special to Sikh News Network
Posted: Friday, November 18, 2011 | 07:11 pm

Reporting from Washington - Gurbani kirtan filled the gothic arches of the Washington National Cathedral as a Sikh jatha sang Guru Tegh Bahadur’s shabad.

The harmonium and tabla duo was accompanied by a melodious sitar as members of Gurdwara Guru Gobind Singh Foundation, in Rockville, Maryland, came together to represent the Sikh community at the 32nd Annual Interfaith Concert.

“I think it’s great that we are participating in the interfaith concert because it’s important for Sikhs to become recognizable in the community and for people to understand what Sikhs are all about,” said Guransh Singh, 15, one of the tabla players.

The 1,368-foot cathedral, which had been closed for two months following an earthquake in August, was reopened to host Tuesday evening’s event.

According to its Web site, “The Cathedral has long served as a grand spiritual center where Americans unite to worship and pray, mourn the passing of world leaders, and confront the pressing moral and social issues of the day.”

The annual concert was organized by the InterFaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington, an association of religious groups that promotes dialogue and community among persons of diverse faiths in metropolitan Washington, according to its Web site.

Five of its 11 interfaith member groups were represented at the event on Nov. 15: The Mormon Choir of Washington, Latter-Day Saints; Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel Choir, Protestant; Natananjali Dance Group, Hindu-Jain; Temple Sinai Choir, Jewish; and the Sikh Kirtani Jatha.

“This is our 24th presentation at the interfaith concert,” said Rajwant Singh, executive director of the gurdwara and a former president of the interfaith association. “It provides us an opportunity (to) show that we are very much part of the American society… So unless we participate in these programs, people will not know who Sikhs are and they will not get the taste of (our) wonderful heritage.”

The 25-person jatha sang one of Guru Tegh Bahadur’s shabads in recognition of his upcoming martyrdom anniversary.

“The theme (shabad) is ‘Kahe Re Ban Khojan Jayee,’ that God resides in every heart and every human being has the opportunity to become one with his or her creator,” Rajwant Singh said.

The concert began with an organ prelude and was interspersed with narrations after each devotional piece. In addition, The Washington Revels, a nondenominational group that combines Spanish culture with Hebrew and Arabic dialect, sang about peace. And, unlike the predominately vocalist groups, the Natananjali Dance Group performed a traditional Bharatanatyam dance.

“I enjoyed it (all) a lot because I got to spend time with other Sikh members of the sangat,” said Guransh Singh. “And I got to also listen to other communities present their own cultures and traditions.”

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