Rain doesn't dampen Sikh spirit

November 8, 2010 by Howard Yune/Appeal-Democrat Source: www.appeal-democrat.com

Boota (33K)
Boota Singh of Lathrop gives an offering inside the Sikh Gurdwara during the 31st annual Sikh Parade Sunday in Yuba City.
Chris Kaufman/Appeal-Democra

 Among the many visitors to the Yuba City Nagar Kirtan and Sikh Parade on Sunday was an unexpected gate-crasher — steady rain.

But Sikhs converged on the Mid-Valley from across town and abroad, braving the soaking conditions to cap a weekend of celebration and charity by marching in the 31st annual Yuba City Sikh Parade.

Directors of the Sikh Temple Gurdwara in Tierra Buena, the parade sponsor, said Sunday's event attracted more than 45,000 spectators to the four-mile procession.

"The best part of the Sikh Parade is that even though it's raining, whether there's sun or there's rain, we're always here to support our religion," said Daman Dhillon, a Yuba City woman among the parade-goers. "Rain or shine, Sikhs are proud."

Considered one of the largest Sikh celebrations in North America, the parade attracted worshippers from as far away as New York and London, as well as busloads of visitors making the journey from various West Coast gurdwaras. The weekend of ceremonies, which included Friday-night fireworks and receptions Saturday at the Tierra Buena temple, marks the 1699 creation of Sikh holy book called the Guru Granth Sahib.

"Yuba City is world famous" among Sikhs, said Jasdeep Singh, 27, a Torontonian who came to the parade along with several friends from Los Angeles. "I heard about it for years, and I wanted to see what the atmosphere was about."

Shielded by umbrellas against the soggy and breezy weather, the throng spent more than four hours following a succession of floats bore the images of saints and martyrs, the banners of Sikh congregations from Sacramento, Redding and El Sobrante, even 30 members of Yuba City High School's Punjabi-American club.

Inching forward at the front of the parade was the wreathed, blue-and-white float containing the Guru Granth Sahib. As the lead float moved onto Tierra Buena Road to the singing of parade-goers, a group of worshippers, some barefoot, slowly swept the asphalt before it with brooms as others scattered flower petals in its path.

For some along the parade route, their faith took form not only in the Sikh writings but in front of the Tierra Buena temple and even along the roadside. Sikhs in booths outside the gurdwara and facing Tierra Buena Road passed out plates of samosas, bottles of lassi and other foods free to spectators, in what parade-goers called symbols of the Sikh ideals of service and humility.

"That is what our holy book is telling us — God is one and we all should be together," said temple board member Tejinder Singh Dosanjh. "That is the message that is going to everybody today, to be all together."

"The whole ethos is to stand out in the crowd," said Jasdeep Singh, the visitor from Toronto. "We want people to know we're there. It's how we stay in touch with our traditions."

There were no reports of disorder, three days after Yuba City councilmen Tej Maan and Kash Gill called for peace after a fight reportedly broke out outside the temple. Maan had said the scuffle was related to an election night altercation involving Gill's cousin, a claim Gill and the Sheriff's Department have disputed.

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