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Victoria celebrates Khalsa Day with parade, festivities

Sikh celebration in honour of annual holiday Vaisakhi marks first one in over 100 years

For the first time ever, Victoria will celebrate the Sikh holiday, Khalsa Day, with a parade and festivities planned for April 29.

In celebration of Vaisakhi, the annual holiday celebrated by both Sikhs and Hindus, this year’s celebration honours the Guru-Granth, the spiritual canon and Guru of the Sikhs, and Guru-Panth, the physical embodiment of the Guru within the Sikh community.

Vaisakhi recognizes the day on which the tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, in 1699 created the order of the Khalsa, the collective of committed Sikhs, both male and female, who are the leaders and defenders of the Sikh way.

Organized by Gurdwara Singh Sabha of Victoria, the religious parade will include hymn singing, martial-arts displays and langar, the distribution of food from the free kitchen.

Langar is a form of selfless service called seva, the belief that food should be made available to all visitors regardless of race, religion or social status. It follows three Sikh principles of fighting hunger, equality in action and teaching compassion.

The fifth largest religion in the world, Sikhism has over 400,000 followers in Canada.

Despite celebrating Vaisakhi annually in Canada for many years in the traditional form of street parades, the holiday has not been celebrated in Victoria since 1912 and is expected to draw a crowd of thousands.

The parade will commence and end at 470 Cecelia Rd., travelling through Napier Lane, Burnside Road and Jutland Road, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The festivities will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Gurdwara will also donate to the Burnside Gorge Community Association, assisting them in their efforts to help families at risk of homelessness through the ‘Homeless Family Outreach’ program.

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