Rutland Road was flooded with thousands of Okanagan residents wearing bright, traditional Sikh clothing Saturday afternoon as Kelowna celebrated its third annual Vaisakhi parade.
Vaisakhi—one of the most significant holidays in the Sikh calendar—commemorates the establishment of the Order of the Khalsa. According to the World Sikh Organization of Canada, the Khalsa refers to the collective body of initiated or amritdhairi Sikhs.
Vaisakhi is also the ancient harvest festival in the Punjab region, which marks the beginning of a new year.
The event has grown each year and has become known for being inclusive to all residents in the region.
“This signifies a coming together of the entire community,” said Kelowna Coun. Mohini Singh.
“This is not a Sikh festival, this is a Kelowna festival.”
Singh, who identified herself as half Sikh, half Hindu, said this year’s Vaisakhi parade was “bigger and better” than the first two.
“The first two set the tone, now this is huge.
“I’m really glad to see so many people and see Kelowna being so inclusive.”
According to the Okanagan Sikh Temple website, the first Sikh temple was opened in Kelowna May 30, 1982.
Substantial growth in the Sikh community led a group, which consisted primarily of volunteers, to begin construction on a new facility in 2004.
The new temple was open to the public on April 26, 2008.
The inaugural Vaisakhi parade took place three years later.
Saturday’s event featured a parade, music, food and several traditions that represent the Sikh faith.