April is Sikh Heritage Month, a celebration of arts, culture and heritage first proclaimed in Ontario in 2013 and since recognized across Canada.
In British Columbia, the website sikhheritagebc.ca offers a place where the Sikh community can connect, “building community through oneness.”
Events in Surrey this month include True Home, or “Sacha Ghar,” an “immersive installation inspired by the words Sikh Gurus sung in the praise of the Oneness,” April 8-10 at Hubcast Studios in Port Kells, 8240 188 St., Surrey.
”Five Artists. Five Rooms. Each artist brings you a piece of their home to you,” Sikh Heritage BC tweeted.
ਸੱਚਾ ਘਰ (Sacha Ghar), True Home, is an immersive installation.
Five Artists. Five Rooms.
Each artist brings you a piece of their home to you.
— Sikh Heritage BC (@sikhheritageBC) March 27, 2022
Visitors can engage in self or semi-guided tours of rooms “to go on a journey,” with reservations made on the website.
Curated by Imroze Singh, the exhibit will feature the work of artists Guntaj Deep Singh, Gurjap Kaur, Binaypal Ghuman, Gurpreet Kaur Birk and Raman Samra.
The True Home hours of operation April 8-10 are Friday from 3 to 8 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to noon. Entry is by donation.
A “True Home Panel” is a virtual event at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 10, to discuss the process of co-creating Sikh-Panjabi spaces through creative storytelling in the diaspora.
Elsewhere, Surrey Archives will host an online event called “South Asian Heritage in B.C.,” April 14 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. To register, call 604-501-5100 or visit surrey.ca/archives.
Sikh Heritage Society BC planned an opening gala Saturday, April 2 at Surrey City Hall, with live music performances, and recognition for 2022 Community Changemakers and scholarship recipients, starting at 4 p.m.
“For the last five years, we at Sikh Heritage Society BC have made an active effort to recognize the contributions of Sikh Canadians to the social, economic and cultural fabric of British Columbia,” noted Mohnaam K Shergill, media co-ordinator for Sikh Heritage Month BC.
The Sikh Heritage Month Foundation works collaboratively with Sikh Heritage initiatives across Canada, according to a post on sikhheritagemonth.ca. Each initiative is independently organized by a committed team of community leaders and change-makers.
On Friday (April 1), Rachna Singh, Parliamentary Secretary for Anti-Racism Initiatives, released a statement to mark Sikh Heritage Month.
“More than 100 years ago, the first gurdwara in our province opened its doors in Vancouver,” the statement read. “Now British Columbia is home to one of the largest Sikh populations outside of India, and our province is honoured to dedicate this month to acknowledge and celebrate the rich culture and diversity the Sikh community brings.”
April marks the occasion of Vaisakhi, a chance to celebrate the harvest and the start of a new agricultural year, the holiest celebration in Sikh faith, Singh noted.
Sikhs also come together in April to mark the creation of the Khalsa of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji, which imparts the values of equality, seva (selfless service) and social justice.
“We’ve seen many examples of seva in British Columbia, especially during the last two years,” Singh stated. “From vaccine clinics hosted at gurdwaras to blood donation drives and meals cooked for stranded travellers during the flooding last November, our province continues to be strengthened and enriched by the Sikh community.”
Singh, elected MLA for Surrey-Green Timbers in May 2017 and re-elected in October 2020, noted the pandemic has challenged us all in many ways.
“Unfortunately, instead of celebrating the contributions that have shaped our history and our future, we have seen increasing incidents of hate and intolerance since the pandemic began.
“Now more than ever, we must stand up against this rising hate,” she stated.
“At a time when so many are divided, we can all learn from the Sikh notion of ‘sarbat da bhala’ and the wish that everyone should prosper.”
She said despite the cancellation of the Vaisakhi parade in Surrey, Sikhs can safely connect and celebrate in many other ways, such as attending events hosted by Sikh Heritage BC.
“I hope everyone takes part in these festivities in a safe way and learns more about a community that has played a significant role in shaping this province over the last century.”