27 February, 2021

USA/Washington DC

USA/Washington DC
There shouldn't have been room for controversy, with the five gurudwaras in the Washington-Baltimore area swallowing their often considerable differences to come together and commemorate the tricentenary. The festivities began sedately enough on February 4 with a series of kirtans and will conclude with an amrit sanchar in Virginia on April 14. But it's the march on April 10 that has caused some discomfort. The busloads of Sikhs swarming in from all over the country will include extremists who are definitely not welcome in the mainstream anymore. Though the orange-turbaned Gurmit Singh Aulakh-a familiar figure in the halls of Congress-is still pushing for a separate Sikh state, mainstream Sikhs have distanced themselves from Aulakh and other separatist groups.

"I have very little patience with extremists," says Jayant Kalotra, 59, who heads an international consulting firm in Virginia. Kalotra migrated to the US in 1984 and prefers to work behind the scenes to increase Sikh involvement in mainstream American politics. His goal is to "increase dignity and respect for our...

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