Kamloops Sikhs share Vaisakhi celebration with community

By Adam Donnelly
April 15, 2019 - 12:21pm Updated: April 15, 2019 - 2:39pm

KAMLOOPS — It’s one of the most important celebrations of the Sikh faith — on Saturday, hundreds of members of the Kamloops Sikh community brought their Vaisakhi festival to the streets of Brocklehurst.

Sikhs from across the region gathered at the temple on Cambridge Crescent this weekend to celebrate Vaisakhi, an annual festival that honours the formation of the first Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh and is also a celebration of springtime.

“It’s a spring festival in Punjab, where most of our families have come from,” Kamloops City Councillor and proud Sikh Bill Sarai explained. “It’s also the birth of our Khalsa… one of our Guru’s blessed and honoured the first five Sikh’s that were created, and from that, this is the Sikh nation.”

For the first time in more than 20 years, the annual celebration included a Nagar Kirtan — a parade through the neighbourhoods surrounding the temple — which included several community booths from businesses across Kamloops.

For those who’d never celebrated Vaisakhi before, the event was a bit of a revelation.

“It’s awesome! It’s definitely an eye-opening experience to how many people are in Kamloops,” Kailey Cryderman said.

Earlier this month, the Sikh community from Clearwater made national headlines after donating the profits from the sale of their temple, after their population had shrunk to just five families. Sarai says that generosity embodies the spirit of the Sikh religion, and is something which can inspire Sikhs everywhere.

“When I first heard about the Clearwater temple shutting down, that was a sad moment in our region,” Sarai said. “When I heard what they did with the profits of the sale of the temple — gave it back to the community, to the schools, to the food bank — as a Sikh, it was a very touching moment for me.”

That generosity was on full display, both at the temple and at the street celebration, where local restaurants and businesses were giving out food and drinks to anyone in attendance.

“Oh, I’ve had so much food,” Cryderman said. “So many sweets, so many things I’ve never tried. It’s awesome.”

“This is our way of showing the community at-large that we’re part of your community,” Sarai said. “But we also want to share our religion with you, our food with you, our culture with you.”

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