April is a special time for those of the Sikh faith. On April 14th (or sometimes the 13th) the holiday of Vaisakhi is celebrated in our communities.
For Sikhs like myself, it is a meaningful time of year and, to me, a reminder of our values: standing up for injustice and helping protect those who are disadvantaged.
In the Punjab region of India, Vaisakhi is celebrated as a harvest festival. In Edmonton, the climate’s timeline doesn’t match up for that, but the generosity of spirit and food is still a big part of the celebration. That’s one of my favorite ways to engage people from all cultures and backgrounds during this time.
More importantly for Sikhs, Vaisakhi is celebrated as the birthday of Khalsa (pure) by Sikhism’s 10th Guru, Guru Gobind Singh. On this day in 1699, the Guru established the identity of Khalsa. The Khalsa were five followers, also known as the ‘Beloved Ones’, and who formalized the identity of Sikhs from then on.
In May is when Edmontonian Sikhs put on the ‘Nagar Kirtan’ parade in Mill Woods. I invite all Edmontonians to come take part in the celebrations on May 19. By necessity, in Edmonton, the parade is delayed until May so the weather might be more accommodating for celebrations. The procession will begin at noon along 47th & 48th street, to Mill Woods Road South concluding at the Gurdwara at 4504 Mill Woods Road.
I love Vaisakhi as it’s a great celebration that shows others what Sikhism is about and also gets future generations of Sikhs involved. We don’t want them to forget about the values of fairness and duty for which we stand; which are also the very same values that Edmontonians across the city stand for, too.
So, Happy Vaisakhi to everyone, and see you out at the parade on May 19!