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Surrey Vaisakhi Parade cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic

Surrey Vaisakhi Parade cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic

Surrey Vaisakhi Parade cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic
Surrey Vaisakhi parade crowd in Newton in April 2018 (credit: Crystal Scuor)

Due to the pandemic, the world's largest Vaisakhi Khalsa Day parade has been cancelled this year too. The 2020 parade was also cancelled as the first wave of the pandemic hit B.C.

This year's parade was scheduled to be held on April 24, 2021. However, the organizers of the event concluded such an event, which typically draws a half-million people to Newton’s streets each spring, cannot be held safely.

A statement from the Gurdwara Sahib Dasmesh Darbar, which organizes the annual event, said the Khalsa parade on April 24 has been cancelled to comply with provincial health guidelines on gatherings.

Vaisakhi marks the creation of the Khalsa in 1699, the most significant day in the Sikh calendar. On this day the 10th Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh laid down the foundation of the Panth Khalsa, that is the Order of the Pure Ones, by baptizing Sikh warriors to defend religious freedoms.

The cancellation was announced by the president of Gurdwara Sahib Dasmesh Darbar, Moninder Singh, in a statement released on Tuesday.

“It is clear that there is no path for an event the size and magnitude of our parade to occur safely within the next three months,” said Moninder Singh.

Singh said small family groups will celebrate individually this year and they hope to enjoy the traditional parade again in 2022.

“We will celebrate this important date in the Sikh calendar within our family groups and with special broadcast programming but will look to gather again as a community for the traditional Surrey Vaisakhi Khalsa Day Parade in 2022.”

Some of the organizations that participated in the 2019 parade included the following:

  • The Sikh Riders: a Lower Mainland-based motorcycle club. 

  • Gatka Demonstration: featuring children demonstrating this traditional form of Sikh martial arts.

  • CHANNEL Punjabi: the local East Indian television station will be broadcasting from within the parade.

  • Guru Granth Sahib: this is the main and culturally most significant float in the procession. It carries the Guru Granth Sahib, the 11th Guru of the Sikhs, which are holy scripture of the Sikh religion.

  • Har Jus Kirtan: a parade entry with over a hundred members singing traditional hymns.

  • Kirtan Float: another float with people performing traditional Sikh hymns.

  • Khalsa School: 500 students from the K-12 private Sikh school will perform traditional hymns and dances during the parade.

  • Sikh Army Float: a parade entry honoring the contributions of the Sikh community in military service both in Canada and around the world.

  • Khalsa Float: a parade entry honoring the Khalsa and its mission to “uplift humanity, engage in the provision of equality and human rights, and to ensure a world free from discrimination.”

  • Sikh Human Rights Float: a float by a group that advocates for equality and basic human rights. Their parade entry features a different era of Sikh history each year.

  • Surrey Food Bank: the non-profit will be collecting non-perishable food item donations along the way.

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