A young boy demonstrates Gatka using a chakar during 2015’s Vaisakhi parade in Surrey, which drew 300,000 people. (File photo)

VAISAKHI: Surrey celebrates Saturday

Up to half a million people expected to gather in Newton for 2018 Surrey Vaisakhi Parade

Will this Saturday’s Vaisakhi parade in Surrey be yet another record-breaker?

Don’t be surprised if it is.

Vancouver’s parade – the first one of which was held in 1979 – was this past Saturday, and tomorrow it’s Surrey’s turn.

It’s Surrey’s 20th annual parade. While both draw huge crowds, Surrey’s is considered to be the biggest one in North America and one of the largest outside India.


“For Surrey we expect similar numbers to last year which could swell higher with good weather,” Surrey parade spokesman Moninder Singh told the Now-Leader on Wednesday. “So in the range of 400,000 to 500,000.”

So what’s it all about?

Every April, Sikhs celebrate the harvest, and the founding of their religion in 1699 with the creation of the Khalsa, containing the tenets of the faith, by Guru Gobind Singh.

For the wide community, parade day represents an opportunity for everyone to enjoy tasty – and free – Indian food as well as experience some intercultural fellowship.

See also: VIDEO: Surrey brothers work toward a ‘Foam-Free Vaisakhi’

See also: MAP: Road closures for Surrey Vaisakhi Parade this weekend

homelessphoto

(File photo from a past Vaisakhi parade in Surrey.)

Surrey Mounties, as they did last year, are preparing for as many as half a million people. Half a million people is a mighty number considering Canada’s 2016 census put the city’s population at 517,887.

Last year’s parade drew more than 400,000 people. In 2016, Surrey RCMP likened that year’s parade day to “a large Canadian city without crime,” following a record-breaking attendance of 350,000 with 19 floats and no arrests or notable crime reported. This time out, police aren’t revealing their patrol plans.

“What I can tell you,” Surrey RCMP Corporal Elenore Sturko told the Now-Leader, “is that extensive planning is undertaken to ensure that events like Vaisakhi are a success from a policing perspective.”

Meantime, the RCMP is offering some tips to ensure a safe time at the parade as the numbers can be overwhelming to some. It’s a good idea, they say, to set a pre-planned meeting place, familiarize your family with your surroundings, and make sure you and your family members carry some kind of ID with contact information in case somebody gets lost.

“Keep a current photo of your child on you in case you need to describe them to police,” Sturko advised. “Keep your children within eyesight at all times.

“We encourage participants to take a photo of their child or elderly adult on their phone as they leave the house or when they arrive at the event,” she said. “This provides police with a completely accurate description.”

Police also say it’s a good idea to make sure everyone with you knows where the missing persons and emergency personnel tents are. There will be four: at 128th Street and 85th Avenue, 128th Street and 76th Avenue, at Strawberry Hills Elementary school on 124th Street and at 80th Avenue and 126th Street.

Expect road closures from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday – delays can be expected for motorists between 72nd Avenue to 88th Avenue and Scott Road to King George Boulevard. The parade will begin at 9 a.m. at Gurdwara Sahib Dasmesh Darbar, at 12885 85th Ave. and end there at about 6 p.m. Floats, dancers, musicians and more will be parading along 128th to 82nd Avenue westbound, 124th Street southbound, 75th Avenue east becoming 76th Avenue, to 128th Street, and head from there north to the temple.

homelessphoto

(File photo)

Just what is Sikhism?

What does “Sikh” mean?

The word Sikh means student.

According to the Sikh Rehit Maryada, a Sikh is defined as “any human being who faithfully believes in One Immortal God; 10 Gurus, from Guru Nanak to Guru Gobind Singh; Guru Granth Sahib; the teachings of the ten Gurus and has faith and belief in the Amrit initiation of the tenth Guru; and who does not owe allegiance to any other religion.”

Where do Sikhs come from?

The Sikh faith was founded by Guru Nanak in 1469 in Punjab. Punjab is currently divided between India and Pakistan. Although most Sikhs have their roots in South Asia, and Punjab specifically, there are Sikhs of diverse backgrounds and nationalities.

What do Sikhs believe?

Sikhs believe in One God who is the creator of the universe and resides within creation. The purpose of human life is to unite the soul with God during one’s lifetime. This is possible through accepting the teachings of the Guru and following the “three golden rules,” namely, meditation on God’s name (nam japna), earning an honest living (kirat karna), and sharing one’s earnings with others (vand shakna).

What is the Sri Guru Granth Sahib?

Sri Guru Granth Sahib is the Sikh scripture containing the compositions of the Sikh Gurus and other saints and poets. The verses, or bani, are considered by Sikhs to be the divinely inspired word of God. The compositions of Sri Guru Granth Sahib are written in traditional musical measures, or raags. It is composed in 31 raags or traditional musical measures and spans 1,430 pages, known as angs or limbs.

World Sikh Organization



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

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