April 23, 2008

Staff photo by Sabrina Byrnes

Manjot Singh Nijjar carries the Canadian Flag in a parade yesterday celebrating the 308th Vaisakhi, a holy day on the Sikh calendar, marking both the New Year and the historic date in 1699 when the symbols and guiding principles of the faith were forged.


 
April 21, 2008 01:16 PM - From babies to senior citizens to MPs to the Premier of Ontario — they came by the thousands yesterday to take part in the annual Khalsa Day parade, which began in Malton.

"We are estimating that there were about 100,000 people," said Amarjit Singh Mann, spokesperson for the Ontario Gurdwaras Committee. "Just at both (main) locations, we had 30-40,000 people."



Khalsa Day falls on the first day of the Vaisakh month, April 14, and commemorates the baptism in 1699 of five Sikhs who offered to give their lives for their religion. These five men became the first 'Khalsas' or 'beloved ones' of the faith.

The celebrations are marked by the giving of flowers and offerings at gurdwaras (Sikh places of worship) and also by parades through towns.

The day began at 1:30 p.m. at the Malton Gurdwara. It ended four hours later at the Rexdale Gurdwara. Many families, dressed in their religious finery on a beautiful spring day, waited patiently along the parade route until the procession passed them by, then joined at the end.


Photo by Sabrina Byrnes.

Students form Akal Academy Bramton participated in the parade that was apart of the celebration of the 308th Vaisakhi, the day marking the creation of Khalsa, at the Sri Guru Singh Shabh Malton Sunday afternoon. Many Sikhs gathered together to take part in the parade that ended at the Sikh Spiritual Centre approximately two hours later.


Mann said he was particularly pleased to see so many children, some as young as his 10-month-old grandson, taking part.

Premier Dalton McGuinty addressed the crowd in Malton. He noted that Sikhs have become an important part of the Ontario and Canadian mainstream and have particularly made their mark, politically, in this part of Ontario.



Photo by Sabrina Byrnes.

Navneet, Jagdev, Jaskirat Sokhi and Jasmine Jagdev sit on the curb waiting to join the parade that was apart of the celebration of the 308th Vaisakhi, the day marking the creation of Khalsa, at the Sri Guru Singh Shabh Malton Sunday afternoon. Many Sikhs gathered together to take part in the parade that ended at the Sikh Spiritual Centre approximately two hours later.



Among the MPPs in ridings surrounding the parade route are Amrit Mangat of Mississauga-Brampton South, Dr. Kuldip Kular of Bramalea-Gore-Malton, Harinder Takhar of Mississauga-Erindale and Vic Dhillon of Brampton West.

Gurbax Malhi, the Liberal MP for Bramalea-Gore-Malton, spoke at both the Malton and Rexdale celebrations and walked the entire route in between.



"Every year it just gets bigger and bigger," Mann told The News. "This year, because it was so nice, there were a lot of people just sitting outside their houses, eating and enjoying the parade."


- By: John Stewart
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