The Sikh Dharma of Virginia Office of Public Affairs was created in March 2018. Guru Sangat Singh, Head of Raj Khalsa Gurdwara, had a vision of an Office that would accompany the excellent work being performed by the National Dharmic Office of Public Affairs based in Espanola, NM and wanted to expand this mission to the Virginia and greater D.C. area.
Our mission is to affirmatively influence public opinion and expand awareness about the Sikh community and the legacy of the Siri Singh Sahib, Yogi Bhajan in northern Virginia, Maryland and Washington D.C. We aim to build and maintain solid relationships with the national Sangat, the interfaith community, local and federal law enforcement, the media, federal government agencies and the general public.
- Build Relationships with Local and Federal Government Officials
- Increase Our Presence in Interfaith Spaces
- Build Relationships with Local and Federal Law Enforcement
- Build Relationships with Faith Leaders and Communities in Our Area
- Increase Our Engagement on National Sangat Affairs
- Increase our Seva and Expand Our Food Programs
- Attended the annual Indian Embassy Baisakhi Celebration at the Indian Ambassador’s residence in Washington D.C. in May.
- Participated in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) webinars on protecting our organizations from security and climate threats in May.
Attended the “Envision Loudoun 2040 Open House” in May; engaged with Loudoun County government officials about long-term development plans for Loudoun County, the home of our gurdwara and community.
Met with Congressman Gerry Connolly’s (D-VA) staff to introduce ourselves, and national Sikh community concerns, in July, along with Sikh Coalition advocates and staff.
Met with Virginia Delegate (District 86) Representative Jennifer Boysko’s staff in September and November to strategize the way forward on introducing Kundalini Yoga into Fairfax County Public Schools, based on a similar effort which proved successful in Maryland’s Montgomery County Public School system.
Met Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) at Amphora Diner in Herndon, VA in September.
With the help of sangat member Jalmeen Soni, hosted Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Virginia House Delegates David Reid, John Bell and Jennifer Boysko for a visit to our gurdwara in October.
Met Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Chair Phyllis Randall during an event on the topic of faith-based support for substance abuse initiatives at Capital Community Church in Ashburn, VA in September.
Attended the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington’s annual D.C. Young Adult Faith Leaders Summit in February.
Served on the Planning Committee for the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Multi-Faith Commemorative Event.
Stepped up our engagement with Loudoun Interfaith Bridges, attending membership meetings in March and April, and the Loudoun Interfaith Bridges Day of Thanks in November, an annual celebration of diversity in our area. Met with Bridges staff in July to work on plans for a Loudoun Interfaith Bridges meeting at our gurdwara.
Participated in the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington’s Annual Unity Walk in October, a public demonstration of the power of diversity and interfaith relationships in the greater Washington area.
Served on the Programming Committee for the Reimagining Interfaith Conference held at George Washington University; participated in the conference and led panel discussions in July.
Law Enforcement Engagement
Attended the annual FBI American Muslim Sikh Advisory Committee meeting in May, and made valuable contacts with the FBI’s Diversity and Inclusion team.
Attended the “Protecting Places of Worship Forum,” facilitated by the Department of Justice, in April. Received training in hate crime prevention and prosecution, active shooter response, and security at houses of worship. Pictured with James Finney, Department of Homeland Security, Sim J. Singh (Sikh Coalition) and Harpreet Singh Mokha, U.S. Department of Justice.
Attended the spring and summer Eastern Loudoun County Sheriff Department quarterly community meetings; hosted Captain TJ DeLitta, Station Commander, for a visit to our gurdwara in May.
Faith Community Engagement
Attended a Jewish-Muslim Seder at a local mosque, the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, in April, titled “an interfaith celebration of Passover.”
Hosted 30 students and congregation members from the synagogue Temple B’Nai Shalom for a visit to our gurdwara and a Q&A session on Sikhism in April.
Attended an Interfaith Dinner Dialogue at the Chinmaya Hindu Mission temple in April.
- In May, we joined Shoulder to Shoulder, an interfaith organization dedicated to standing with American Muslims and ending anti-Muslim sentiment in the US; participated in network calls and educational webinars throughout the year.
- Attended an Interfaith Iftar in honor of Ramadan at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, a local mosque, in June.
- Attended a program at the Northern Virginia Baha’I Center in June honoring the Daughters of Shiraz, a group of brave women Baha’I martyrs; made valuable connections with this community.
- Attended the “One Loudoun Revival” event in August; engaged in dialogue with local Baptist and Methodist pastors over dinner.
Met with Reverend Laura Martin, Pastor at Rock Spring United Church of Christ in July; discussed collaboration on environmental service projects and attended programs at Rock Spring UCC throughout the year.
Represented Sikh Dharma at an interfaith ‘Solidarity Shabbat Service’ at the Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation, a local synagogue, following the tragic shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA.
Hosted a group from Sai Baba Hindu Temple at Raj Khalsa Gurdwara for a visit and Q&A program in December.
National Sangat Engagement
Partnered with SALDEF (Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund) to host two programs at our gurdwara in May and June:
- Know Your Rights: education for sangat members about Sikh rights in schools, the workplace and with law enforcement. Program included speakers from intelligence agencies, the FBI, TSA, Customs and Border Protection and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
- Wear Orange: honored victims of gun violence and raised awareness about this important societal problem. Wear Orange Campaigners and Moms Demand Action delivered remarks. An art session was held for children.
Attended the annual EcoSikh Fundraising Gala in June; enjoyed productive interaction with EcoSikh staff and volunteers about Sikh environmentalism.
Volunteered with SALDEF to host their annual “Langar on the Hill” event, raising awareness about Sikhism among Congressional representatives and staff in, July.
Participated in the annual Sikh Coalition Advocate Academy; received training on best practices in advocacy and awareness building on behalf of Sikh Americans in the political and media realms. Forged enduring connections with Sikh Coalition advocates and staff.
Attended a SALDEF networking reception for SikhLEAD interns in July.
Hosted a voter registration drive at Raj Khalsa Gurdwara, encouraging civic participation in the democratic process, in October, with support from the Sikh Coalition and SALDEF.
- Provided support to ongoing food seva programs – the monthly Homeless Langar program at Raj Khalsa Gurdwara, and the weekly food delivery program for Parkview High School students.
- Coordinated annual collection of donations for Thanksgiving food assistance for students and families in need at Potomac Falls High School totaling $1,500.
- Created a new program – Food for Neighbors, collecting pantry items at the gurdwara and delivering them to Herndon Middle School weekly for children and families in need.
“We should be known for our service” – Siri Singh Sahib, Yogi Bhajan
Sikh Dharma of Virginia OPA Staff – About Us