Sikhs across the Central Okanagan are joining together April 28 to celebrate the eighth annual Vaisakhi Parade.
Between 5,000 to 10,000 people will participate in the Kelowna celebration to mark the harvest of winter crops in the Punjab region and the start of a new year. Farmers celebrate the fruits of their labour, give thanks and pray for prosperity in the future. For Sikhs, Vaisakhi represents the birth of the Sikh religion.
Paramjit Singh, president of the Kelowna Sikh Temple, said celebrations take place in Kelowna, Penticton and Osoyoos as well as in Vancouver and Surrey.
The parade will leave the temple at 12 p.m. and travel around Rutland’s neighbourhood until roughly 3 p.m. Saturday, April 28. Food and entertainment will also be located at the Sikh Temple.
The parade begins and ends at the temple, heading along Rutland Road North before taking a right onto Wallace Road. The parade will then take a right on Sycamore Road, a right onto Sumac Road East, a left onto Friesen Road, before turning right onto McCurdy Road, right on Keyes Road and a left back on Sumac Road Road East before returning to the temple.
“We treat our scripture as living words, so we vow to it, so once a year (we) go and bless the neighbourhood,” said Singh.
Sikhs will also attend the parade wearing traditional articles of clothing, he said. “This is how the women dress when they come to the temple and the men usually wear the orange turbans.”
The Penticton Sikh Temple will be hosting the event in the city for the second year and it looks like it has grown, he said.
The original Sikh building was established at the Rutland location at 1111 Rutland Road North in 1982.
Punjabi is the common language spoken among Sikhs. More than 1,600 Kelowna residents consider Punjabi to be their mother tongue with more than 1,000 residents saying it is the most common language spoken at home, according to Census data.