A Personal Diary of a Day in History
The Inauguration of Nikki Haley
By Simran Singh
A Day of Vision & Reflection
‘Every ending illustrates the vision held. Every beginning requires a vision to stand on. If not moving toward something, you might as well be standing still. What vision do you hold for yourself? Your life? Your community? Your world? Begin and the Universe will be with you.” – Simran Singh
It seemed an appropriate inspiration to flow forth from the morning’s meditation on such an auspicious day. The moment had come; a moment of hope, excitement, converging and reflection for many. Today was the day that Nimrata Nikki Randhawa Haley would be inaugurated as the first female Indian American Governor.
Nimrata means humbleness, Nikki means small, and Randhawa means ‘one who leads the battlefront’. Our name is our nature and Nikki had most definitely stepped into hers, ‘small humble one who leads the battlefront.’
As I reflected over the past several years of the courageous and graceful walk that my sister has taken, I sit in awe. There have been many moments in our lives where she seemed to be the older one guiding me and then, of course, moments when I took my rightful place in being the older one guiding her. Nevertheless, when one looks upon their younger sibling, whom they taught their ABC’s, played Wonder Woman in the back yard with yellow capes flying, and spent many years working along side one another in a family business, the whole experience is quite surreal.
Nikki, on one hand, was the funny, silly, goofy, little sis that made everyone laugh, the one that became star struck at passing celebrities, and an individual who never met a stranger. On the other hand, she was a poised, serious, capable woman who had become the celebrity, the life of the state’s political future, and the forger of relationships across genders, geographic lines and age ranges.
In true Sikh tradition and that of her American birthright, she walked a valiant path of focus, discipline and courage as she moved through the political ranks. She had walked humbly toward a new vision for our state. I reflected on the day that she decided to run for her first office. She had spent a full day at Exotica Intl, our family clothing business in South Carolina and was leaving to go to a meeting of Women Republicans. On her way back from the meeting she called me, “Simmi, I have to talk to someone. I just came from a meeting and am so excited about what I heard. Driving back home now, I am wondering what else in life there is. I have two beautiful kids, a wonderful husband and love working for my family, but there has got to be more to life… more to why I am really here. This is crazy but I feel called to run for political office. I have to do it. I want to be in service and do something greater than I am doing now.”
I understood. My own life had taken a similar turn and was also leading me in a different direction. Our love for our parents and the family business kept us committed to them but our souls yearned for more. Exotica had been our parents dream, it was time to find and live our own dreams. The wonderful thing about a dream is that it has limitless possibility if we just let ourselves continue dreaming once we start living it. We were fortunate that Mom and dad said to both of us, “Do what you have to do. We just want you happy. Live your dreams.”
I watched my sister win against a 22 year incumbent, quickly rise in rank at the State House, and then decide to run against all odds for Governor. The beauty at all times was the Light that surrounded her and the Light that shined through her. It is a Light that shines through all of us when we let it. As I watch her life, I see the reality and the illusion of it all…the humanness and the soulfulness, the physical personal efforts and the cosmic actions of support. This has been powerful reality creation and a beautiful soul journey.
People flew in from everywhere in excitement of the inaugural festivities. Despite the white blanket that covered South Carolina, the delays in travel, and icy winter storm conditions, nothing was to prevent a moment of history taking place. Family and friends came from Australia, India, Brazil, Canada and all over the United States.
January 12, 2011 began with a prayer service at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Columbia SC. The sacred hall was beautiful and the energy inside was reflective of what would transpire during the day. As bagpipes played and flags brought in, a procession followed with many of the newly elected officials, along with Nikki, Michael, Rena and Nalin. My eyes welled up as I saw her smile. Fullness enveloped my heart and filled my entire being at the hope and inspiration she was providing for so many, particularly young girls and boys who could see that no glass ceilings need exist any longer.
Clergy of many churches were gathered on the pulpit to add their blessings and prayers for the days, weeks and years to come. Each voice brought forth love and wisdom. Beautiful song carried in the air as select individuals performed. Sacred scriptures and the presence of all that is holy could be felt throughout the room. I was so filled with gratitude at the presence of my whole family and my human family all celebrating, not just Nikki coming into office, but a shift of a deeper and greater significance. Something far grander was happening today. It was bigger than we could all grasp.
Silently I said thank you to all of the people present, the clergy and especially all those who came before us, all those who blazed trails in their own way in their own time, and those who so selflessly gave of themselves to be of service to humanity. Most of all, I was grateful to all of the holy ones Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad, Baba Ji and the countless other Masters whose presence, on this day felt so palpable.
Next came the Inaugural ceremony. The crowd moved to the State House steps. The stage was set with a military band, chorus, regal guards, and seating for the many dignitaries in attendance. As the service began, the pomp and circumstance was breathtaking to behold. One by one representatives and dignitaries were escorted down the State House steps. Ambassadors were in attendance representing many nations, India, China, Mexico and others. Past Governors graced the ceremony. My parents, Dr. and Mrs. Ajit Randhawa, along with Michael’s parents, Bill and Carol Haley sat in the front row next to the podium where Nikki would place her inaugural address.
The announcer called the names of Rena and Nalin Haley. Hand in hand, nine year old, Nalin and, twelve year old, Rena, walked down the steps. They looked so proud and grown up. Nalin stood at his chair, bashfully looking out at the crowd, while Rena turned to the dignitaries in the row behind her and shook hands. I was just amazed at the grace and elegance she held at such a young age.
They announced Michael Haley. He descended the steps in full dress regalia. This moment was as much his as it was Nikki’s. The strength and support that he has given my sister can sometimes go unnoticed because it is behind the scenes, but I knew the degree of support that had to come with endless campaigning, rearing two children, handling press and being the soft place to fall after exhausting hours, days and weeks. He was to be regarded as highly as Nikki in this journey.
Finally, Nikki’s name was called, along with exiting Governor Mark Sanford. She descended the steps hand in hand with Governor Mark Sanford. Her smile was beautiful and her manner graceful. She was dressed elegantly and her hair tied back. As she waved to the crowd, her smile provided the warmth needed on such a brisk cold day. After waving at the crowd, she took her seat on the platform next to her family. After Lieutenant Governor Ard was sworn in, Nikki was called forward. As she raised her right hand, placed her left upon the Bible, and recited her oath, my mind flashed with images of our family history.
Our parents had sacrificed and gained so much in coming to America. They had left behind their homeland, memories, family connections and familiarity for a new place, a new vision for their lives, and that of their children. In coming to the United States, they had gained opportunities, a new family, and blank pages to write a new story.
They instilled within all of us good work ethics, faith, prayer, and the ability to have and hold a vision. They taught us independence, problem solving, and how to use our voices. They shared with us love, the beauty of all peoples and religions, personal memories and age old wisdom. All of us were a representation and culmination of the collective strengths of our Mother and Father.
I glanced over at my brothers Mitti (Harmit) and Gogi (Charan Ajit), so proud of their amazing gifts and success in their respective fields. Their faces illustrated the same feelings that I held. I knew this was particularly heartwarming to Mitti as he had served a great tenure in the US Army and he respected and cherished the beauty of the respect and tradition being displayed. I knew he was proud of Nikki by the tear that glimmered in his eye and the the smile that rested upon his cheeks. Being the eldest of the family, he knew most deeply the struggles and wins of the family.
After being sworn in, Nikki approached the podium. She paused for a minute taking in all of the individuals that had turned up for this historic event. I cannot imagine what she must have felt or thought. I am certain that inside the little Nikki that we all grew up with must have been in awe as well, perhaps even flashing back to that day of destiny when she visited the Republican Women’s meeting.
Nikki’s speech was one of reflection and vision. I listened feeling a sense of synchronicity taking place. I was reminded of the inspired statement on facebook that I had posted from my meditation. When the same message comes from several sources, perhaps an even greater force is speaking.
“When we embark on this new journey toward growth and prosperity, we must do so together, with one vision. A vision that is focused on the success of our families and businesses is a vision that is not impaired by partisanship, personalities, or distractions. We don’t have time for that, and I won’t stand for it… …So, with faith in God, who knows what is right, And faith in our own ability to use the skills and judgment He gives us to do what is right, we can make this vision a reality.” -Governor Nikki Haley
The address was real, practical and inviting. She was asking people to show up and was willing to show up with them. It acknowledged where we came from, where we are, and where we can go. As a Life Coach and Empowerment Publisher of 11:11 Magazine, I have learned a client can only attain as high as a coach is willing to hold the vision for. In the same vein, a family, business, or state can attain only where the leader is willing to cast and hold the vision. With the rearing of our parents, I know that the vision being cast and held is high, vast and grand…now we must rise up to fill it.
The evening festivities completed the day. The hall was filled with people in gorgeous attire, moving excitedly about. With the procession of State House Representatives and a first dance by the Governor and First Man of the the state of South Carolina, the celebration continued. This has been a proud day for South Carolinians, Americans, Indian Americans, Women, young people and our families.
Simran Singh, Publisher of 11:11 Magazine, Syndicated 11:11 Talk Radio Show Host & Founder of The Believe Center supports individuals in recognizing their purpose and empowerment by tapping into inherent personal expression, creativity and potential via self inquiry and conscious choices. www.1111mag.com & www.BelieveSC.com
A Personal Diary of a Day in History