Skip to content

Surrey Vaisakhi parade organizers aim for 2023, now that this year’s big event is cancelled

The Newton-area parade was postponed in early March, for a third straight year
People of all ages take part in Surrey’s annual Vaisakhi parade in Newton. (File photo)

Vaisakhi is celebrated today, Thursday, April 14.

Surrey’s large Khalsa Day (Vaisakhi) parade, originally planned for April 23 this year, was cancelled back in early March.

The annual parade typically attracts up to 500,000 people to the streets of Newton, but the 2022 event will not happen due to pandemic-related reasons, for a third straight year.

The day-long celebration is among the world’s largest Vaisakhi parades, to mark the creation of the Khalsa in 1699.

The Surrey parade is organized by officials with Gurdwara Sahib Dasmesh Darbar, where parade entries gather in a typical year, at 12885 85 Ave.

This year, a lack of planning time was blamed for the cancellation of the parade, along with “sporadic and last-minute changes to the public health orders.”

In the first week of March, Moninder Singh, president of Gurdwara Sahib Dasmesh Darbar, detailed reasons for the 2022 event cancellation in Surrey.

“We are a Sikh Gurdwara that operates through donations from the Sikh sangat (congregation), and we feel it would be irresponsible on our part to go forward at this time and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on deposits and expenditures in preparation for the event, only to have sporadic and last-minute changes to the public health orders in the future and be pushed to cancel the event later and lose donations which are for supporting important programs in our community,” Singh said.

“Our decision also impacts the thousands of families preparing for the event and spending thousands of dollars of their hard-earned money to serve the community through free food and give-aways on that day in the spirit of Seva (Selfless Service) and Sarbat Da Bhalla (Welfare of all Humanity).

“We are disappointed at how this year has turned out but look forward to gathering again as a community for the Surrey Khalsa Day (Vaisakhi) Parade in 2023.”

Vaisakhi marks the birth of the Sikh faith, pays tribute to the harvest and commemorates one of the most important days in the Sikh calendar: the creation of the Khalsa.

Today, Premier John Horgan issued a statement in honour of Vaisakhi.

“Today, in B.C. and around the world, people in the Sikh community are celebrating Vaisakhi, one of the holiest holidays in the Sikh faith. Vaisakhi is a celebration of the formation of the Khalsa over 300 years ago.

“Vaisakhi is normally celebrated through Nagar Kirtans, worship in gurdwaras, and gatherings with friends and family.

“While some may choose to continue to participate in online Vaisakhi celebrations, many communities will welcome a return to in-person celebrations and visits to gurdwaras.

“It is also a day to reflect on the teachings of the Sikh gurus who emphasized the values of sharing, ‘sewa’ (service) and living by honest means.

“B.C. is home to one of the largest Sikh populations outside India. Through difficult times in B.C., the Sikh community in our province has always upheld these teachings of compassion and selfless service and provided inspiration.

“To take just one example, during the tragic flooding last year, many in B.C.’s Sikh community cooked meals and even chartered a plane to deliver food to people who found themselves suddenly isolated.

“On behalf of the Government of British Columbia, to everyone who is celebrating, Happy Vaisakhi!

“Vaisakhi Diyan Lakh Lakh Vadhaiyan!”

The Khalsa was founded to fight adversity more than 300 years ago and has since continued to be at the heart of Sikhism.

There are five Ks – or articles of faith – that are worn by baptized Sikhs to indicate a Khalsa devotee’s commitment.

• Kesh (uncut hair). A Sikh is to maintain and adorn this natural God-given gift. The Kesh is covered with a turban, Keski or Chunni to keep it clean and manageable.

• Kanga (wooden comb). The comb is used for the maintenance and ongoing upkeep of Kesh – a reminder to regularly maintain the body and mind in a clean and healthy state.

• Kara (steel bracelet). The bracelet symbolizes an unbreakable bond with God and is a constant reminder that the Sikh is a servant of the Lord.

• Kachhera (cotton underwear). Dignified attire reflective of modesty and control.

• Kirpan (a small sword). The kirpan is a sign that a Sikh is a soldier in God’s army that will be used to protect the weak and needy or for self-defence. It is never to be used in anger.

A Sikh who has not been baptized may also don all five Ks, but is called a sahajdhari, which translates to “slow adopter.”

– with Black Press Media files

Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news stories for the Surrey Now-Leader, where I've worked for more than half of my 30-plus years in the newspaper business.
Read more