Sikhs celebrate annual Shaheedi Smagam at Scott Road temple

Hundreds of devotees packed Surrey's Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara for its annual Shaheedi Smagam honouring victims of the 1984 Sihk genocide.

Children at Surrey's Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara performing a traditional kirtan

As many of the children in North Delta were putting on their costumes to go trick-or-treating this Halloween, the Sikh members of the community were preparing for a very different celebration.

On Oct. 31, hundreds of devotees packed the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara (7050 120 St., Surrey) to mark the martyrdom of Sardar Beant Singh and Sardar Satwant Singh, who Sikhs remember as heroes who lost their lives for the community, holding prayers in their honour and paying tribute to those who lost their lives in the 1984 Sikh genocide.

Temple management and volunteers made elaborate preparations for the Shaheedi Smagam.

The program began with a harmonious kirtan (devotional singing) by the young children trained at the Gurdwara, mesmerizing the attendees.

“Programs like this are particularly designed for the young children to make them conversant of their rich heritage and culture,” said Rupinder Kaur, one of the program volunteers. “It is also a platform for the community to come together and intermingle for the welfare of the society as a whole.”

As the celebrations continued, the children in attendance participated in an interactive quiz about Sikh history, with prizes distributed to the winners. Festival organizers also instructed them in the importance of conflict resolution and reporting bullying in school to their teachers, as well as the value of hard work.

“When the children come together at public platforms like this and listen to inspiring stories, it is far more inspirational for them rather than teaching them the do’s and don’ts at home,” said the parents of four-year-old Pram.

It wasn’t all quizzes and lectures, however. The kids also enjoyed face and hand painting, queuing up in huge numbers for their turn, before grabbing sumptuous snacks like French fries, pasta and, of course, bags of candy.

“I make a lot of new friends at community gatherings like this and then we share our talents with each other. It certainly helps us to grow,” said 14-year-old Bhav, who spent part of the day reading motivational stories to a group of friends.

The attendees later congregated in the community kitchen for a mouthwatering dinner of Indian delights.