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Thousands celebrate Vaisakhi in Victoria

Victoria Sikhs celebrated Vaisakhi and the establishment of the Khalsa in 1699
Thousands of Vancouver Island Sikhs celebrated Vaisakhi at the fourth annual Khalsa Day celebration at Gurdwara Singh Sabha. (Jindi Singh photo)

Over 5,000 people from across Vancouver Island descended Gurdwara Singh Sabha for the fourth annual Victoria Khalsa Day parade and celebration.

On Sunday, April 28, members of the Sikh community gathered on Cecelia Road to celebrate Vaisahki the establishment of the Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699.

“It was a great event and the procession ran really well and everyone had a fantastic time,” said Jindi Singh, a volunteer with the gurdwara. “The procession had a few more floats than we did in previous years, there was a lot more sangat (congregation) that had come and followed the procession as well. We also had a greater number of stalls where people were sharing food and information about charities so it was a much larger scale than we’d seen before.”

Throught the day, the parade and subsequant celebration saw food, devotional singing, and Gatka, a form of Sikh martial arts.

Although this is the fourth Khalsa parade, the first Sikh celebration in Victoria was in 1912 after Gurdwara Sahib Khalsa Diwan Society opened and the local Sikh population marched from Chinatown to Topaz Avenue.

Singh said although the Sikh population on Vancouver Island is old, with the first ones arriving in Victoria in the early 1900s, celebrations in Victoria are fairly recent because for years, Sikhs would typically go to Vancouver or Surrey for Nagar Kirtan processions and Vaisakhi celebrations.

“But the Sikh youth here in Victoria started telling the gurdwara ‘we want to do our own procession’ so it was very much driven by them and you’ll notice at the procession [in Victoria], all the volunteers were the youth,” he said.

Although there are established Sikh families who have been on the island for sometimes four generations, there are still young families and international students who have come from India who take part in the celebrations.

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Bailey Seymour

About the Author: Bailey Seymour

After graduating from SAIT and stint with the Calgary Herald, I ended up at the Nanaimo News Bulletin/Ladysmith Chronicle in March 2023
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