Vaisakhi is celebrated across the globe every year by thousands of Sikhs. The day marks both the beginning of the Sikh New Year and one of Sikhism’s most important events, the establishment of Khalsa in 1699 with the first Amrit ceremony.
Vaisakhi is also the beginning of the harvest season for winter crops in India and is a significant holiday in the Sikh calendar.
Thanks to the Little India in Vancouver, Vancouver is host to two annual Sikh parades; the Vancouver’s Annual Vaisakhi Parade and the Surrey Vaisakhi Parade. The former was held on 12th April while the later is scheduled to be held on 19th April.
Here is a glimpse of the 12th April, 2014’s Vaisakhi Parade.
This year, Vancouver observed the 25th Vaisakhi Parade with more than 100,000 spectators. Politicians like Justin Trudeau and Christy Clark were also seen participating in the celebration. The parade is North America’s oldest Vaisakhi parade.
The 10 kilometre long parade began just after 10 a.m. today and concluded at 5 p.m. As always, it was organised by the Ross Street Temple’s Khalsa Diwan Soceity.
The parade started at 11am at the Ross Street Temple (8000 Ross St at 64th), moved south on Ross Street to SE Marine Drive, then west to Main Street, north to 49th Avenue, east to Fraser Street, south to 57th Avenue, east to Ross Street and then returned to the Temple.
This year saw 15 floats travel the parade route. There was a special float dedicated to the centennial year of the Komagata Maru incident,in which 376 Punjabi immigrants were denied entry to Canada in 1914.
The spectators were treated to musical performances and dancing, but the most attractive feature of the parade was the free Sikh food (samosas, sweets, pizza, subs etc…) which was available all along the parade route.
The crowd that this year’s parade brought proved to be a boon to the Vancouver Punjabi Market which was struggling since many years due to the relocation of businesses to Surrey, which is home to a large Sikh population that continues to outgrow Vancouver’s.
For those who missed this Vaisakhi Parade, Surrey’s Vaisakhi parade will be held on 19th April and will begin from Gurdwara Dashmesh Darbar. It is said to be one of the largest Vaisakhi parades outside India and is expected to attract around 200,000 spectators.