When Seema Grewal moved to Regina from India in 1978, there were “a handful” of Sikh families in the city. So when nearly 1,000 people gathered at the Sikh temple on Saturday for Regina’s first Vaisakhi parade, Grewal’s excitement was palpable. “I feel like a little kid because I’ve never seen it before either,” she […]
When Seema Grewal moved to Regina from India in 1978, there were “a handful” of Sikh families in the city.
So when nearly 1,000 people gathered at the Sikh temple on Saturday for Regina’s first Vaisakhi parade, Grewal’s excitement was palpable.
“I feel like a little kid because I’ve never seen it before either,” she said. “I was a teenager when I came here and there was nothing like this here.”
Though larger Canadian cities host Sikh parades, Regina’s Sikh community has always been too small — but in “the last five years, it has grown tremendously,” Grewal said.
“It is actually a big dream come true,” agreed her husband, Surender Grewal, chairman of the parade committee.
The main parade float, decorated in rose petals, carried the holy scripture (the Guru Granth Sahib) and men leading hymns (Nagar kirtan).
Crowds of people echoed their songs during the two-kilometre walk to the Legislature.
The party included bagpipers and RCMP officers in red serge. A few men in orange carried traditional swords.
Even without visitors from Saskatoon, Weyburn and Estevan — and out-of-province visitors from Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg — Regina’s Sikh community could easily have supported a parade.
After the temple’s foundation in the late 1970s, when prayer meetings happened in people’s homes or in the rented Odd Fellows Hall, the population creeped up a family or two at a time. In the late 1990s, there were at least 50 Sikh families in the city.
Now each Sunday, there are 900 people in the congregation and the community has ballooned to almost 3,000, due to immigration from India and other Canadian cities.
Already, the temple purchased in 2013 is feeling too small.
Given this growth, “We’ve been thinking a long time we have to do it, this Sikh parade,” said Nirmal Maur, president of the Sikh Society of Regina.
“Every other city has had parades, Toronto, Vancouver, and we’ve never had it,” agreed Avtar Kamboz.
This year they went for it.
Aside from celebrating Vaisakhi, the Punjabi harvest festival, the parade was a belated celebration of the Khalsa — the Sikh religion’s creation in 1699.
“This is a celebration. You guys got a Christmas parade, so the same thing,” said Charanjit Khangura. “(We) have a parade and then people, they know about your legend.”
It was also “something different to show the city how we are, how we’re doing now,” said Maur, to “tell them we are here too.”
“It’s basically to let people know who we are, to educate people who the Sikhs are,” Kamboz added.
“Sikh religion welcomes everyone,” said Sunny Singh, who found it “nice and refreshing” to see a parade in Regina.
The 28-year-old saw big parades as a student in Toronto.
They encourage diversity and multiculturalism, he said — both of which are “a foundation of the city of Regina.”
~ By – Ashley Martin
~ Source- leaderpost.com