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Sikh ‘ardas’ at US Republican convention that chose Trump

world Updated: Jul 21, 2016 14:57 IST
Harmeet Dhillon

Chandigarh-born Sikh Republican activist Harmeet Dhillon adjusts her scarf as she prepares to deliver the invocation at the Republican national convention in Cleveland, Ohio.(REUTERS)

In a first for the Republican Party, a Sikh-American woman opened the second day of its national convention here with the ardas, a Sikh prayer.

Harmeet Dhillon, vice-chairwoman of the California Republican Party, delivered the Sikh prayer on the national stage here in Punjabi and then translated it into English. It was the first such instance for the convention but it was not the first time the 47-year-old San Francisco lawyer upended expectations, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Born in Chandigarh, she emigrated with her parents to England and then to the Bronx, New York. Her father, an orthopaedic surgeon, soon moved the family to rural Smithfield in central North Carolina.

Taking the stage minutes before Donald Trump was officially nominated as the party’s candidate for US president, Dhillon led the convention in the Sikh prayer on Tuesday. After the pledge of allegiance and the national anthem, Dhillon took the stage and explained that it was Sikh custom to wear a headscarf for the traditional prayer.

Dhillon, a delegate from San Francisco, covered her head with a shawl after stepping up to the podium. “I’ve said this prayer before I could walk,” she said.

Dhillon hoped her reading the prayer would show that the Republican Party truly does have a big tent. “I think this is an inclusive party. I’ve never felt anything but included since Day One,” Dhillon was quoted as saying by The Mercury News.

Trump clinched the Republican Party’s presidential nomination to run against Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November polls, a stunning rise for an outsider after months of controversial campaigning that saw him crushing 16 well-established party rivals. Diversity was showcased by the party in Cleveland as the state party turned to Shirley Husar, who is black, to make the announcement.