Even a rainy day couldn’t dampen the festivities to celebrate the 318th birthday of the Sikh faith. The annual Khalsa Day celebrations occurs every spring with a downtown parade, marshal arts demonstrations and the sharing of food. “We are celebrating Khalsa Day — and we are celebrating 125 years of Windsor, 150 years of Ontario […]
Even a rainy day couldn’t dampen the festivities to celebrate the 318th birthday of the Sikh faith.
The annual Khalsa Day celebrations occurs every spring with a downtown parade, marshal arts demonstrations and the sharing of food.
“We are celebrating Khalsa Day — and we are celebrating 125 years of Windsor, 150 years of Ontario and Canada,” said Harjinder Singh Kandola, president of the Sikh Cultural Society of Metropolitan Windsor.
“We are here to sing the praises of God and … we are remembering the guru’s teachings of freedom, equality and justice.”
Food and celebration marked the opening ceremonies at the Riverfront Festival Plaza on Sunday.
Volunteers prepared and served puddings, samosas and bread.
“That’s what we are known for … anyone who enters a holy place like our gurdwara, everybody gets food,” said Jagjit Singh Varaich, a Khalsa Day organizer.
About 800 attendees then gathered for a parade, led by Windsor police cars in recognition of Windsor’s 125th birthday.
Police vehicles were followed by a float decorated with colourful flowers and banners, containing the religion’s scriptural canon.
The float was accompanied by five Panj Pyare, representing the five men who formed the initial Khalsa — which translates to ‘pure’ — in 1699. All Sikhs who have undergone the faith’s baptism ceremony and live within the religion’s philosophy are part of the Khalsa community.
Varaich said the presence of the five Panj Pyare demonstrates the faith’s emphasis on equality.
The five Panj Pyare were baptized by Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th Sikh guru. Those five, in turn, baptized the guru — a symbolic gesture of equality among all devotees of the Sikh faith.
“All men and women, you see them,” Varaich said. “They are sitting together, they are eating together, and everybody has prepared the food together.”
Attendees joined together to sing the divine hymns along the parade route, which began at the Riverfront Festival Plaza, travelled down Riverside Drive East to Church Street, and looped around from Pitt Street to Ferry Street before returning to Riverside Drive West.
“This day for me, personally, is everything,” said Kandola. “Because this day, Sikhism was formalized as a Khalsa community, and we were given this form of Sikh five articles of faith and Sikh identity.”
Khalsa Day also celebrates the establishment of the five articles of faith, or the Five Ks, also established by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699. They include uncut hair, a wooden comb, an iron bracelet, a cotton tie-able undergarment and an iron dagger.
For attendee Narinder Varaich, Khalsa Day is a celebration of where she comes from.
“We’re so honoured that we’re allowed to do this here and just show who we are, all the similarities,” she said. “We look different, but when you get to know (each other), all the core principles are the same.
“We believe in humanity and serving each other, so it’s really about getting to know one another. And this is a great way to do that.”