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Sikh Pride showcased at Kelowna Vaisakhi Parade

It’s about connecting the community
George Simpson leads the pack of motorcyclists during the eighth annual Vaisakhi Parade Saturday, April 28 in Rutland. - Credit: Carli Berry/Capital News

The annual Vaisakhi Parade is about connecting with your community, says a Kelowna Sikh resident.

“We see our friends and relatives here,” said Inderjit Randhawa. “It’s a big deal in our culture. We celebrate this once a year, we want to spread our values to others so they know who we are.”

Amandeep Malhi and Gurleen Janda, from Vernon, dressed in traditional bright blue and pink Punjabi clothing for the event.

“It’s a good way to support our culture,” said Malhi.

Related: Carli’s Cultural Connections: Sikhism in the Central Okanagan

Between 5,000 to 10,000 people participated in the Kelowna celebration to mark the harvest of winter crops in the Punjab region and the start of a new year, despite the rainy weather. Farmers celebrate the fruits of their labour, give thanks and pray for prosperity in the future during the festival. For Sikhs, Vaisakhi represents the birth of the Sikh religion.

The parade was held Saturday, April 28 at the Kelowna Sikh Temple. Free food and festivities were available to the public at the temple and on the side streets, as residents and visitors walked along with the parade. It took three hours to make its way around the packed Rutland streets.

And for other residents such as Mario Lanthier, who is not Sikh, it’s about realizing different cultures aren’t so different.

“We forget sometimes, all societies have the same range of people and elements. In this parade we see all the people on motorcycles, we see the younger people doing martial arts. We see a young people doing dancing… although we are from different backgrounds, our societies are structured very similarly.”

It’s nice for the communities to support each other, as the Sikh community seems to enjoy sharing their culture he said.

“It’s nice for us to be here.”

As Lanthier works in the agriculture sector, “I have the chance to work with people from this community and they’re fantastic people.”

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One of the many vehicles featured in the parade.
Three young boys relax on the back of a parade float.
Jaskaranpreet Sohal (left) and Inderjit Randhawa enjoy an ice cream cone and watch the parade while wearing traditional Punjabi clothing.
Jarnail Singh Gill takes a minute to rest after driving his tractor in the parade.

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