Surrey, Vancouver, April 28, 2012
Vaisakhi has become one of the most popular celebrations in Canada. Nearly in every major Canadian city, this special occasion is celebrated with a great deal of enthusiasm. In a sense, Vaisakhi has become a mainstream event in this country. The two Nagger Kirtans (Khalsa Day Parades) in Metro Vancouver- held in Vancouver on April 14 and in Surrey on April 22- brought out more than 300,000 people between them. It was great to see people from other communities join the South Asian community in celebrating the birth of the Khalsa (the Pure Ones). Free food and drinks made available to the attendees all along the Nagar Kirtan routes(both in Vancouver and Surrey) was a very generous and superb gesture by very dedicated members of our community. This is something that we can all be proud of.
In addition to these two major celebrations, Vaisakhi was also celebrated around the Metro Vancouver area by various organizations and schools. Take for example the Queeensborough Middle School (QMS) in New Westminster.
As a result of efforts by the Punjabi Language Education Association (PLEA) Punjabi class has been under way at QMS for the past several years. Under the leadership of their Punjabi teacher, Mr.Deep Singh Sangra, the students of the Punjabi class at QMS did an excellent job in celebrating Vaisakhi in school on April 19. The whole school was buzzing with Vaisakhi related activities. Even the main entrance to the school had Happy Vaisakhi signs both in English and Punjabi. The Punjabi class students did a marvelous job in explaining the significance of Vaisakhi in Punjabi and English. They also put on impressive cultural performances before the students and teachers. In addition to this the local Sikh community provided a hot lunch for the entire staff of Queensborough Middle School. It also distributed nutritious snacks to all of the students in the school.
It was a commendable way of creating more pride amongst students about their cultural heritage in the Canadian context. Programs, activities and gestures like these go a long way in creating a positive image of the community and creating opportunities for cross-cultural understanding. Organizers of such special events at the national, regional or local level deserve our thanks and appreciation.
(Balwant Sanghera is a retired School Psychologist and Community Activist)