January 02, 2009

Vaisakhi, Vancouver Style

In the month of Baisakh in 1699, the first Sikhs were baptized and became known as the Khalsa ("pure"). Vaisakhi is celebrated by Sikhs around the world every year as they come together to observe this occasion. Around the same time Bengali's celebrate their new year, Naba Barsha. The first time that crops can be harvested in the season also occurs around this time, so everyone is generally in a good mood.

In Vancouver, it is not just Sikhs who come to to celebrate Vaisakhi. Around 100,000 people showed up for the annual Vaisakhi parade in Vancouver's "Little India". Hymns were sung as part of the street procession, an activity called Nagar Kirtan. Main Street was filled with revelers who watched floats pass by as they munched on tasty snacks provided freely by the Sikh community. The food was as diverse as the parade participants, ranging from pakoras to pizzas. Among the local celebrities in attendance was photogenic TV personality Tamara Taggart, who waved at me.


"Share our similarities, celebrate our differences." - M. Scott Peck