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Lathrop recognizes important Sikh date
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Representatives from the San Joaquin County Sikh community accept a proclamation from the City of Lathrop on Monday night commemorating Vaisakhi. - photo by Photo Contributed

On the surface, the proclamation that the Lathrop City Council gave out on Monday night was typical.
When an organization does something that benefits the residents of the community, the council does what it can to recognize that formally – whether it’s a community group, non-profit organization or a religious organization.
But the presentation to the Stockton Sikh Temple to recognize its annual Vaisakhi Celebration – which takes place next week at the oldest Sikh Temple in North America, located in Downtown Stockton – was a testament to not only the growing number of Sikh residents within Lathrop, but the city’s emergence as a truly multicultural city.
Mayor Sonny Dhaliwal, the first Punjabi-American elected to public office in San Joaquin County history, said that the growing number of Sikhs in the community and the fact that they’re becoming represented much more within their own communities shows a dedication towards being inclusive.
And at the core of it all, the ethnic makeup of the Lathrop City Council itself is perfect example of how those who are elected to make the decisions of the community reflect the cultural and ethnic makeup of the people that they serve.
“I think that when you look at the Lathrop City Council, it looks like Lathrop,” Dhaliwal said. “I’m proud to be a Sikh-American – I love this country and the opportunities that it has afforded both me and my family – and I’m proud to represent a city that’s accepts and embodies diversity in everything that we do.”
In addition to Dhaliwal, the council includes a native of Nigeria who came to America in 1981 out of curiosity in Paul Akinjo, a Hispanic woman in Martha Salcedo, a Pacific Islander in Steve Dresser and a Caucasian – five different races working together for the betterment of the community as a whole.
While every group is represented in the melting pot that is Lathrop – that as of the 2010 census had a population that was only 41.1 percent white – the Punjabi community has become one of the driving forces in local politics, represented now on both the Manteca and Lathrop councils and until November on the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors as well.
“I’m very proud to be here in the United States – it’s truly the land of opportunity – but I want to thank the Sikh-Americans that have contributed to our society and to our nation,” Dhaliwal said. “This proclamation that we approved represents not just that community, but the diversity in Lathrop as a whole and speaks to everybody who helps make this community and this country what it is.”
The religious holiday that was honored – Vaisakhi – dates back to 1699 and according to Dhaliwal, marks the date, April 13, that the Sikhs were first baptized and taught the concept of saint and soldier. The gurdwara, or temple, in Stockton will host a large parade in honor of the event on Saturday, April 16. The event which takes place at the historic temple will draw thousands of people from throughout San Joaquin County that come to take in the pageantry and the cultural traditions that are on display.
Gurdwara Sahib, the Stockton temple, is located at 1930 S. Grant Street in Stockton.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.