Surrey Vaisakhi parade takes place after Narendra Modi inspires patriotic wave for India

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      This is the day when enthusiasm for an independent Sikh state reaches its zenith.

      It's also the day when hundreds of thousands of people will gather in Surrey for the annual Vaisakhi parade.

      Vaisakhi is the traditional harvest festival in Punjab celebrated by people of different faiths.

      But it carries special significance for Sikhs because Vaisakhi also commemorates the founding of a military order called the Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh.

      The Khalsa was formed in 1699 to protect Sikhs and members of other faiths from being converted to Islam by the Moghuls, who had seized control of northern India.

      The Surrey Vaisakhi parade attracts massive crowds.
      Charlie Smith

      In Surrey, the annual parade is organized by Surrey's Dasmesh Darbar gurdwara, whose leaders have traditionally been strong supporters of an independent Sikh homeland called Khalistan.

      The Indian government, on the other hand, has been determined to preserve all of its territory ever since the country gained independence on August 15, 1947.

      That's why independence movements have been crushed in the Indian states of Kashmir, Assam, and Nagaland. The desire for territorial integrity underlies the successful efforts of the first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. and his first deputy prime minister, Vallabhbhai Patel, to bring principalities under the control of the central government.

      One of the most serious uprisings occurred in Punjab in the early 1980s. A firebrand Sikh preacher, Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, led a group of militants in an uprising against the Indian government. In 1984, they brought weapons into Sikhism's holiest shrine, the Golden Temple complex in Amritsar.

      When the Indian Army attacked with tanks on the orders of then-prime minister Indira Ghandi, it created an uproar among the Sikh diaspora around the world, including in the Lower Mainland.

      The assault on the Golden Temple led months later to the assassination of the prime minister by her Sikh bodyguards.

      Nearly 3,000 Sikhs, mostly in Delhi, were killed in the ensuing retaliation promoted by members of Ghandhi's party. This further fuelled the movement for the creation of Khalistan.

      To this day, the Indian government remains concerned about that. As recently as 2012, then-prime minister Manmohan Singh was urging the Conservative government to pay attention to the Khalistani separatist threat, which was centred in Surrey.

      According to a Globe and Mail article, India's then-minister of state for external affairs, Preneet Kaur, told Harper that an "area of great concern" was "the revival of anti-India rhetoric in Canada".

      Anti-India "rhetoric", if you can call it that, is on full display during the Surrey Vaisakhi parade. There, you'll see photos of Bhindranwale on T-shirts, posters, and even on floats travelling in a parade that also includes a large number of RCMP officers and politicians.

      In the past, the Surrey Vaisakhi parade has even celebrated the assassins of Indira Ghandi and the reputed mastermind of the Air India bombings, Babbar Khalsa founder Talwinder Singh Parmar. They're viewed as martyrs among some supporters of an independent Khalistan.

      Sikh militants are commemorated at the Surrey Vaisakhi parade.
      Charlie Smith

      This was the backdrop to Indian prime minister Narendra Modi's visit to Vancouver and Surrey on April 16.

      Modi has generated a surprising amount of support among younger Indians because of his charisma and for embracing modern technologies in his political campaigns, including holographic effects to place him in numerous locations at the same time.

      It's one reason why he's being referred to as a rock star.

      Modi is, in fact, unleashing patriotic fervour about India among the so-called NRIs (non-resident Indians). 

      Modi could have come to Canada during any part of the year to discuss trade and commerce with Prime Minister Stephen Harper. So why this week? 

      It's easy to conclude that the date of his visit to Surrey was designed to promote an intense love of India just before the Vaisakhi parade was about to whip up support for an independent Khalistan.

      In politics, timing is everything.




      Apr 18, 2015 at 11:19am

      Your article is Incorrect. NO Sikhs Support Modi, Only Radical Hindus support Modi. The Sikh Gurdwara Modi visited in South Vancouver has no Significance to Sikhs today. As Sikh do not worship their, but choose OTHER Sikh Gurdwaras.
      Their is already an international uproar among Sikhs since Ross Street Gurdwara Locked. No Sikh is proud to be Indian. Maybe you knew that and wanted a response from Sikhs.

      Vasikahi - The birth of the Khalsa. Guru Gobind Singh created Khalsa. His 2 children were bricked alive by Hindus and Muslims. His other 2 children died in battle. His wife died in prison in freezing temperature. His father was murdered by the King of South Asia in New Delhi when he was 9. He himself was assassinated in Southern India by Radical Muslims. He created Saint-Soldiers, and his Sikhs stopped tide of Invaders that Hindus could not for 5000 years. Hail MASTER GOBIND SINGH !!


      Apr 18, 2015 at 6:41pm

      Most Sikhs are proud to be Indian. I am one of them.

      Surrey is an embarrassment.

      Response to anonymous and anonymous2

      Apr 18, 2015 at 8:09pm

      In no way do I support any form of political violence anywhere in the world, but as a Canadian Sikh I have to disagree with both anonymous and anonymous2. Anonymous states that "NO Sikhs Support Modi", well I just came back from a trip to Punjab, and I could confirm that many Sikhs in Punjab support Modi, primarily because of his policies that benefit the country, and them, not for religous or ideological reasons.

      Anonymous2 states most Sikhs are proud to be Indian. This may be true for some Sikhs but "most" is an exaggeration at the very least. India wasn't a country until 1947, prior to that it was under British rule and prior to that it was a number of smaller kingdoms, one of them being the Sikh kingdom in the Punjab region. Sikhs who are proud to be Indian are proud of their Punjabi and Sikh history and are pretty detached from the majority of the country.

      It appears both anonymous and anonymous2 are either themselves detached from reality, or repeating their parents views.

      baljeet singh

      Apr 18, 2015 at 10:04pm

      i am sikh and proud of being Indian. All traitors in canada are not proud of their motherland.


      Apr 19, 2015 at 5:37am

      What a farce! In Punjab, Government is formed with Modi support so how come Modi has no support argument stand. NavjotSingh Sidhu is BJP MP! SimrT Kaur is in Cabinet of Modi! Anti India Sikhs in Surrey are a bunch of criminals, nothing more. We are all Indians, whether your are Punjabi, Gujarati, Marathi, or other. Sikhs are in every state of India living peacefully, not only in Punjab.

      Vicky Sharma

      Apr 20, 2015 at 9:21am

      Im a hindu and i strongly oppose minority killer modi, everybody have right to self determination. Demand for sikh home land is right. Sikhs saved india so many times now its time that india should pay attention to sikhs.

      Samarpreet Singh

      Apr 20, 2015 at 10:02am

      i'm from Punjab and i'm Pleased to see at-least NRI hindus(vicky) understand human right violation. There is no rule and regulation in punjab , law is only for poor peoples and rich are exploiting system with bribery, minorities are not safe in india. I hope one day Khalsa Raaj will come and justice will be served. I want to make this clear I'm a Sikh and not happy with bloody indian regime.

      Simrin K

      Apr 20, 2015 at 5:03pm

      The moronic dumbasses in Surrey continue to give all Sikhs a bad reputation world wide. A lot of respect that we Sikhs had has finished due to these illiterate extremists idiots.

      Same goes for the drug problem with the Sikh community.

      Let past go and move forward, not backward.

      No one will give them Khalistan. No one in India even wants it.

      Complete idiots.