Letter to the Editor: Everyone is Welcome at Surrey's Vaisakhi celebration

Arshdeep Singh Battu, Business Students Representative at the Kwantlen Student Association

(Guy Evans, Flickr Creative Commons)

At Kwantlen Polytechnic University, there are many students from different countries and cultural backgrounds. From time to time, KPU organizes events and activities during which students can get the chance to share their cultures. The Surrey Sikh Parade, which is celebrated every year, will take place on This month on April 22, in which people from different cultures can also participate. Last year, there was a record breaking 300,000 people who joined in and participated in the parade.

This Sikh parade is organized every year. Do you know why?

The parade is organized for Vaisakhi. Vaisakhi is also known as Baisakhi or Vaishaki. It is a historical and religious festival celebrated in Sikhism that is celebrated on the 13th of April of every year and holds major importance for the Sikh people, as it marks the birth of Sikhism. On this day, the tenth Sikh guru, Guru Gobind Singh, founded the Khalsa Panth (also known as the Order of Pure Ones) and thus provided an identity for the Sikhs. The Guru administered nectar, or amrit, to his first batch of five disciples on this day and made them a martial community. By doing so, he established that all human beings are equal and eliminated the differences between the high and low castes.

Apart from the special prayer meetings in Gurdwaras (a holy place of Sikhs), Vaisakhi processions are also carried out to mark this day. Vaisakhi marks the Sikh New Year and commemorates the formation of the Khalsa Panth of warriors under Guru Gobind Singh in 1699. Although Vaisakhi is a sacred day for Sikhs, it is still celebrated and enjoyed as secular festival for all Muslims, Hindus and Christians. It also serves as a spring harvest festival for the Sikh farmers, which is a time known to be rich in agriculture and signifies when winter crops are ready to be harvested. In Punjab, Vaisakhi is also observed as a day of Thanksgiving by farmers who pay their respects and express gratitude to god for abundant harvests and prosperity.

During Vaisakhi, Gurdwaras are decorated with flowers and kirtans are held. Sikhs visit local Gurdwaras, community fairs, and nagar kirtan, and many tents are erected to serve food among people. Processions are also held, and people gather to socialize and share festive foods among other participants. This festival is also celebrated in schools, colleges, fields, and homes. People wear vibrant traditional clothing, prepare locally-grown and loved food (makke di roti, sarson ka saag, aloo poori, gajar ka halwa, chhole, lassi), and dance to the beats of the dhol drum to celebrate prosperity. Schools will also organize various competitions, Gurdwaras prayers, religious ceremonies, and processions to mark the day.
This year, our university will also participate Surrey’s Sikh parade. On April 22nd, the Kwantlen Student Association is organizing a turban-tying event for those who are joining in on the festivities. Please come and enjoy the parade, and don’t forget to bring your fun, positivity, and energy with you!