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Vaisakhi Celebrates The Canadian Sikh Values Now Under Threat In Quebec

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07.05.2019

We recently observed Vaisakhi, the biggest festival in the Sikh calendar. Vaisakhi marks the founding of the Khalsa — the collective of initiated Sikhs — by the tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh Ji. It is not, as is often said, the Sikh New Year.

Sikh PA (with permission)A nagar kirtan celebration in Australia, 2015.

In 1699, at Anandpur Sahib (in present-day Punjab, India), the Guru called for the heads of those willing to sacrifice themselves. One by one, five Sikhs came forward into a tent. They later re-emerged wearing Sikh military attire and became known as Panj Pyare: the "five beloved ones." They became the first Khalsa (initiated) Sikhs, and started a collective that today includes millions.

The occasion is celebrated by Sikhs through a nagar kirtan, or street procession of the Sikh Scriptural Guru, Guru Granth Sahib, led by five Sikhs who represent the Panj Pyare. Nagar kirtans include food, the singing of hymns and martial arts displays. Nagar kirtans are usually referred to as Sikh or Khalsa parades in North America.

Sikhs have been holding nagar kirtans in Canada for over 100 year. The first is thought to have been in 1908. Since then, they have grown to become some of the largest Sikh gatherings outside of India. The Surrey, B.C. nagar kirtan last year saw over a........

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