Vaisakhi parade draws tens of thousands to South Vancouver

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      The annual Vaisakhi parade in South Vancouver attracted a huge crowd to celebrate the ancient harvest festival and the start of the new year in the solar Nanakshi calendar.

      It's a major holiday for Sikhs, commemorating the establishment of the Khalsa in 1699 by Guru Gobind Singh, who was the 10th guru.

      Premier Gordon Campbell, several members of his cabinet (including Kevin Falcon, Iain Black, and Margaret MacDiarmid), and other politicians appeared at the parade, which took place in cool, sunny weather. It went from the Ross Street Temple over to Main Street, then moved north before turning east on East 49th Street and then eventually working its way back to the temple.

      The Khalsa was created as a military order to resist the Muslim Moghul rulers, who had executed Guru Gobind Singh's predecessor, Guru Tegh Bahadur.

      Male members of the Khalsa carried a sword to demonstrate their willingness and strength to combat oppression. But they had to act not from hatred but from a desire to protect. Men also received the middle name "Singh" (lion), whereas women received the middle name "Kaur" (princess).

      There were many Canadian flags on display at the Vancouver Vaisakhi parade. One stall sold T-shirts of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, a firebrand Sikh preacher who was killed in a battle with Indian police in 1984 at Sikhism's holiest shrine, the Golden Temple in Amritsar, Punjab.




      Apr 10, 2010 at 8:30pm

      The Vaisakhi parade is an awesome experience! The camaraderie, free food, and happy crowds were better than the crowds associated with (and forgive me for the blasphemous remark I'm about to make) the Olympics. I just spent 7 hours walking around and taking photos and even though I'm not Sikh, I was made to feel welcome. Complete strangers went out of their way to interpret song lyrics for me and explain stuff when they noticed the stupid look on my face. Thanks for a great party! So much for being baptised Protestant. Where's THAT joyous celebration?