With a record-breaking crowd in excess of 150,000 a year ago,
the annual Surrey Vaisakhi Parade is now considered the largest on the globe outside of India.
Vaisakhi occurs in mid-April each year and coincides with the time of first crop harvesting in Punjab, and also marks the anniversary of one of Sikhism’s most important religious events, the establishment of Khalsa in 1699.
Attendance at Surrey’s annual Vaisakhi event, which is now in its 12th year and coordinated by the Gurdwara Sahib Dasmesh Darbar temple in Newton, has usually hovered between 80,000 and 100,000. But a couple of factors led to the increase last year, one of which parade spokesperson Moninder Singh Bual expects will be duplicated.
“A big reason is the parades in Vancouver and Surrey are now on different days, so people who had to choose one or the other now do both,” Bual said, noting the Vancouver event also attracts large crowds.
Vancouver’s Vaisakhi cele-
bration takes place April 14, while Surrey’s is on April 21.
“There wasn’t a lot of communication between the two groups for a while, but there is a lot more now,” Bual said. “It benefits both of us.”
The weather also cooperated last year, Bual added, after rain fell on the 2010 parade.
“If the weather holds, definitely we expect to have as many people this year,” said Singh. “We usually expect around 100,000, but last year was a surge, it was unexpected. But we did do more promotion and marketing.”
More than 2,500 participants from over 20 community groups are expected to participate this year.
The parade is set to begin at approximately 9:30 a.m. and conclude at 4 p.m., beginning and ending at the Gurdwara Sahib Dasmesh Darbar (12885 85 Ave.).
With a variety of floats and community groups in the procession, the parade heads south on 128 Street, west along 82 Avenue, south again on 124 Street, along 75 Avenue and then 76 Avenue, and then north again on 128 Street back to the temple grounds.
Musicians and dancers will be performing on temporary stages alongside the parade route.
Road closures will be in effect from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and drivers can expect delays if travelling between 72 and 88 Avenues, and Scott Road and King George Boulevard. Those attending the parade are encouraged to use transit.
“The only problem last year, with so many people, was that there were bottlenecks along the route,” said Bual. “So we’re asking people to be patient, allow for some extra time. Enjoy the stages along the way.”
The day is capped off with a big fireworks display around 10 p.m. off the roof of the gurdwara.