Every year, Sikhs around the world celebrate Vaisakhi in mid-April, one of the most important annual events for members of the faith.
Vaisakhi marks the day in 1699 when Guru Gobind Sing Ji founded the Khalsa fraternity, but it also historically serves as a harvest festival, during which farmers give thanks.
Vaisakhi officially falls each year on April 13 or 14. This year, it is on the 14th.
Throughout the month of April, Vaisakhi and the birth of the Khalsa is celebrated around the globe.
This is an occasion of dancing, singing, music, the wearing of festive garments and religious praise.
Men dance the Bhangra and women dance the Gidda to celebrate this event.
During the Vaisakhi celebration, processions called nagar kirtan make their way along the streets as they sing hymns from a sacred book of worship know as Guru Granth Sabib.
Many Sikhs choose to be baptized during this holiday.
Canada is home to one of the largest Sikh populations in the world, and Abbotsford-Mission is itself home to a large concentration of Sikhs, with more than 30,000 people reporting the faith as their religion.
Every year, Vaisakhi celebrations large and small are held across the country. Surrey hosts one of the largest festivals, with the parade there drawing hundreds of thousands of men, women and children of all cultures.
That parade features a unique element which pays tribute to the harvest celebration roots of the parade – attendees are given free food and drink from hundreds of local residents and businesses.
This year’s parade takes place Saturday, April 21, starting and ending at 12885 85 Ave. The parade starts at around 9 or 9:30 a.m. and is followed by a festival.
In Abbotsford, the Valley Royals Vaisakhi track meet takes place Sunday, April 15 at Rotary Stadium from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The meet is a fusion of western athletic track and field events and South Asian-Punjabi athletic demonstrations and cultural events. A traditional Vaisakhi Langar lunch is provided free for everyone from noon to 2 p.m.
There will be special events such as Bhangra dance, henna hand painting, and turban tying on the community stage and a demonstration of the Indian-style martial art of Gatka.
Admission is free.