The Sikhs of Mossel Bay celebrated their fifth annual Vaisakhi festival on 15th of April at the Dana Bay Community Hall. This year the attendance was not as much as in the past because the dates of the function clashed with the Hindu ceremony of Hanuman Chalisa and many people went to George, PE and Cape Town for that function.
However, the quantity was replaced by quality. There were a lot more visitors from the UK where there are 228 Sikh temples and the British Sikhs have many years of experience both in organizing this annual event as well as in cooking delicious Langar (communal food).
On Saturday night the British Sikh ladies, assisted by the local Indian ladies cooked the traditional spinach dish which was served with yellow mealie rootis and fresh green chillies. People from all ethnic origins enjoyed this typically North Indian dish cooked the Punjabi way.
On Sunday they made mouth watering savoury breakfast items while local lady, Resma, produced a sweet dish which was simply out of this world. All the local Indian ladies shared their culinary experiences with their counterparts from the UK and together they produced a feast for lunchtime that can only be described as divine. Since the number of attendees was low compared to previous years, everyone was able to take a lot of food home.
The priest, Giani Kuljeet Singh, came from Cape Town to perform the religious part of the ceremony. Sandeep (of Bay Shop, Marsh Street) supported him on Tabla (set of Indian drums) and they sang some very enjoyable hymns from the Sikh holy book, the Granth Sahibji.
He gave, in Punjabi and English, a brief history of the formation of the Sikh (Khalsa) by the tenth Guru Gobind Singh in 1699 and also explained about the foundation of the Sikh religion by Guru Nanak in 1469. He also reiterated that once we get the permission from the local Government to build the proposed Gurudwara, we shall embark on cultural education for all communities.
The Hindus from George joined in the ceremony like every previous year and recited Hindu Bhajans from their holy book.
They enjoyed the function so much that at the end of the ceremony they asked to be kept informed of
future functions so that they can participate in strength.
Apart from the meals people enjoyed all different religious people getting together, learning about each other's culture and socializing unreservedly.
Sikh visitors came from UK, Poland, and Cape Town, whilst members of Afrikaans, Hindu, Tamil and other local communities came from Johannesburg, George and East London.
Ally, our Muslim friend, who left Mossel Bay to work in Algiers a few years ago, came over with his family. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves as can be seen from the attached photographs. As the organizers have always stressed that, although Vaisakhi is mainly the celebration of New Year for the Sikh, Tamil, Nepalese and Sri Lankan people, the Sikhs of Mossel Bay will strive to bring members of all ethnic groups together as a community. And we are succeeding.
Before and after the function the overseas visitors took time to enjoy sightseeing in and around Mossel Bay, and along the Garden Route. Some even went to the Kruger National Park. Before leaving for the UK, three of the visitors invested ZAR 3.65 million in properties in Mossel Bay. Add to this the money they spent on shopping, travel, tours, car hire, eating out, legal fees and the stamp duty on the properties they purchased, the Vaisakhi visitors spent close to ZAR 4 million in Mossel Bay in one week. I have always maintained that when the Sikh Temple is built in Mossel Bay, we shall see a lot more Sikh visitors from all over the world and, being entrepreneurs by nature, they are likely to invest a lot in this area. One of them is already considering spending around ZAR 2 million on upgrading one of the buildings in the CBD.