LOS ANGELES: The Sikh community of Southern California celebrated Baisakhi as over 20,000 joined celebrations in Los Angeles Convention Center here.
The celebrations started in the early hours at 3.00 am at Guru Ram Das Ashram on Preuss Road with Amrit Sanchar (taking of the Amrit and Khalsa vows) and Asa di Var and Japji Sahib (morning hymns).
Then the grand procession carrying the holy Guru Granth Sahib started at 7.00 am from Guru Ram Das Ashram to the convention center in a majestic motorcade.
The program at the convention center started with the opening Hukam (Order of the Day) and with a musical Jaap Sahib (the sacred ballad of ultimate meditation on God’s actions, composed by Guru Gobind Singh).
This was followed by children’s program from Southern California gurdwaras and by Ragi Jethas (musical groups) from regional gurdwaras. Notably among them were Ustad Prof. Ranjit Singh, Bhai Raghbir Singh (Walnut Gurdwara), Bhai Jaswant Singh (Sikh Center of Orange County), Bhai Gurdip Singh (Lankershim Gurdwara), Bhai Randhir Singh (Vermont Gurdwara), Bhai Varinder Singh (Khalsa Care Foundation) and the Jetha from IGS.
In between the Kirtan Darbar (Spiritual musical performance), there were speeches to honor various guests and political office-bearers. Kirtan Singh Khalsa and Surinder Singh acted as the main speakers to introduce various Ragi Jethas and honored guests. Several Sikhs were recognized for their service to the Sikh religion with plaques.
After the kirtan program, a royal Nagar Kirtan (Sikh Parade) took place after a brief delay due to the Laker game.
The procession went around downtown Los Angeles for a two-mile parade where many colorful floats from various Sikh Gurdwaras highlighted Sikh culture, tradition and lifestyles.
A Sikh martial art presentation called Gatka was performed by California’s most distinguished Gatka performers (art of sacred sword).
Langar (free food and refreshments) was provided throughout the Biasakhi program at the convention center and through the Nagar Kirtan.
A Bazaar was organized outside the main concourse hall where many booths were set up by various vendors selling Sikh art, books, clothing and promoting services for support of worthy causes.
The Nagar Kirtan program was coordinated by Gurdip Singh Malik and Joginder Singh Sidhu.
Many Sikh Dharma community members from New Mexico and around the country attended the Baisakhi celebrations. Among them were Sardarni Guru Amrit Kaur Khalsa (Siri Sikdar Sahiba), MSS Hari Jiwan Singh Khalsa (Chief Protocol Officer of Sikh Dharma), Guru Jodha Singh (Granthi), Gurujot Kaur Khalsa (Secretary General of Sikh Dharma International) and Bhai Sahib Satpal Singh Khalsa (Ambassador of Sikh Dharma). Representatives from all major Sikh Gurdwaras were present including S. Ranauk Singh (Vermont Gurdwara), Dr. Amrit Singh, Dr. Piara Singh, S. Gurdip Singh Malik and many others.
Bhai Sahib Satpal Singh Khalsa, Ambassador of Sikh Dharma greeted various guests and wished them a Happy Baisakhi. He said that Sikhs should emphasize on the importance of educating the children in Sikh ethos and values so that they can pass the baton to the next generation and thus ensure that our Sikh tradition, language and way of life does not disappear in this great melting pot called America. He further appealed to all Sikhs to celebrate Baisakhi and other Sikh festivals in large numbers so that we can educate others about our Sikh religion and way of life.
Baisakhi commemorates the day in 1699 when the tenth master, Guru Gobind Singh gave the Sikhs a distinct identity and ordained the Panj Piaras (Five Beloved Ones) and gave them the Khalsa form and appearance. It is a strict discipline whereby the Sikhs are required to wear the five “K’s”- Kesh (Hair), Kanga (Comb), Kirpan (Sword), Kara (Steel Bracelet) and Kacha (Underwear). The five “K’s” have practical and symbolic meanings. This is the true significance of Baisakhi (also spelled Vaisakhi) which made the Sikh community feel as one family (the Commonwealth of the Sikhs), outstanding and upholding honor and engaging in social work with utmost endeavor. Baisakhi also coincides with the first Spring Harvest and the Sikh New Year.
This annual celebration was started by the late Siri Singh Sahib Bhai Sahib Harbhajan Singh Khalsa Yogiji in 1985 when he invited all Sikh gurdwaras in Southern California to celebrate Baisakhi festival jointly. Ever since, the event has been held each year at the convention center and organized by Sikh Dharma of Southern California along with Sikh community of Southern California.
Nearly two dozen gurdwaras in Southern California participate and celebrate Baisakhi and Nagar Kirtan (Sikh Parade) jointly with much fervor and enthusiasm.
Baisakhi is celebrated each year with the community’s help and funds. Sikhs were urged to donate generously to keep the Baisakhi tradition alive. (Press Release from Sikh Dharma)