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Baiskahi Keertan Darbar and Nagar Keertan

Sunday, April 9, 2017 | 7:00 am – 4:00 pm

Los Angeles Convention Center

1201 S. Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, CA

The theme of the 2017 Baisakhi Celebration is commemorating the spirit of Guru Gobind Singh’s 350th birthday that was recently celebrated in Patna Sahib.

Every spring, with a devotional grace, the Sikh community in Southern California bands together in Chardi Kala – high spirits – to celebrate the Birth of the Khalsa during the annual Baisakhi Celebration. The spring hearkens the energies of hope, creation, renewal and freshness. And for Sikhs, the springtime is a personal reminder of their individual commitment to what it means to be Khalsa – humans of high consciousness and purity of heart; humans dedicated to serving humanity and raising the vibration of the planet.

HISTORY: In April 1699, Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th Guru of the Sikhs, created the Khalsa – a majestic kind of human devoted to Seva (selfless service), Simran (constant remembrance of the Infinite), Bana (the distinct attire) and Bani (recitation of prayers). With the Khalsa, he created a nation of warrior saints – fearless humans whose only armor is compassion.

Starting months in advance, up to 20 Gurdwaras in Southern California start their planning for the Baisakhi Celebration. All aspects of the one-day event need to be coordinated - there are venue arrangements to be made, marketing materials to be created, supplies to be ordered, Shabads to be rehearsed, Langar to be cooked, vibrant fabrics and adornments need to be selected to decorate what will become the Guru’s Court …..the list of preparations could literally fill pages. And, even still, the smallest detail is handled with great care.

The week before, the energy in Los Angeles is buzzing. Sevadars are in a constant state of preparations. Spirited emails, phone calls and text messages fly through the community - all with the singular goal of serving our Guru and our sangat by creating the most wonderful Baisakhi Celebration we can. During the Amrit Vela on Saturday, the Amrit Sanchar takes place at the Guru Ram Das Ashram for those Sikhs who have made a decision to live as Amritdhari (baptized) Khalsas. The Gurdwara program, which follows the Amrit Sanchar, is full of pure devotion to the Siri Guru Granth Sahib and the Khalsa Panth. Then, sevadars spend the whole day (as well as the day and evening prior)  either at the Los Angeles Convention Center creating the Guru’s Court and Guru’s Langar Hall or at the Khalsa Care Foundation decorating the Guru’s Float. With great delight, we welcome the out-of-town guests who stream down to LACC all day to help sew, iron and hang fabric; string flower garlands; and lay down sheets. The Sikh Dharma Community of Southern California has been hosting the Baisakhi Celebration since the mid-80s and it has now become the largest Baisakhi event in the United States. Sikhs from all over the country come to serve with great joy in their hearts. During the set-up and decorations time, there is a sense of family reunion as the visitors from far and wide meet and greet one another as they come together for seva. Although it is literally hours and hours of work, suddenly…the Guru’s Court and the Guru’s Float appear, and everyone takes a deep breath of awe and gratitude. Hearts overflow with a nourishing connection to this noble and selfless Sat Sangat.

And, finally the jewel of the Sikh calendar arrives; we wake up on Sunday bright and early, and it is now Baisakhi. There is a rush of energy to get dressed in our finest Bana and make our way to the Guru Ram Das Ashram for the powerful chanting of Asa Di Vaar during the Amrit Vela. Then, the Guru is driven in a grand procession with a police escort to the Convention Center. As the Guru’s motorcade flies through the streets, Guru Ji’s vibrations and blessings land on all our neighbors. Suddenly, Los Angeles feels like a small, cozy community, where we know each person and wish all well.

Once the motorcade arrives at the Convention Center, we march into the hall with chanting and drumming, a timeless reminder of this warrior path – the path of the fearless human devoted to service and kindness. The Guru is then installed, and the day starts to magically unfold. Breakfast Langar is served, the inspiring children’s Ragi Jathas chant, the sacred Bazaar opens, the main Ragi Jathas from many different Gurdwaras play, the children’s room is brimming with activity, honored guests and dignitaries speak, Langar is served and longtime friends and families reconnect at every corner. All the Guru’s Sikhs are adorned in their finery and shoes are lined up with care outside the Gurdwara. Waiting in line to bow to the Guru is a breathtaking experience. The line moves slowly, allowing your senses to fully take in the environment – the different languages spoken, the soaring chanting of the Ragis, elders being assisted with great respect and love as they prepare to bow to the Guru, the wafting scent of the sweet Prashad, the garlands of flowers hung and placed with devotion. And, the constant heartbeat is the ancient yet timeless sound current of the Ragis. They transport us to the Court of Guru Gobind Singh and back again.

Mid-afternoon, the Guru is escorted on an elegant float for a vibrant parade through downtown Los Angeles. Ragis are chanting, young people are playing Gatka (martial art) and thousands of Sikhs walk, pray, commune with each other and exuberantly sing the Guru’s praises. Before we know it, we have finished the parade route, and the Guru is marched back through the Convention Center and driven back to the Guru Ram Das Ashram. With joyful spirits, we hug our goodbyes and start the preparations of wrapping up and breaking down.

With great care, we must now put everything away and store it for another year: sheets are pulled up, fabric taken down, sound and musical equipment stowed in cases. With every step, and every humble act of seva, our hearts are overflowing with gratitude for this royal path and all the untold blessings the Guru has bestowed upon us.

And, within two weeks, the inter-Gurdwara planning teams come together for a joyful family meal and wrap-up meeting. The entire event is reviewed, noted and improvements are planned for the next year. And soon, the planning meetings start all over again!

Wahe Guru Ji Ka Khalsa Wahe Guru Ji Ki Fateh!

Baisakhi Celebration FACEBOOK EVENT


Video of 2016 LA Baisakhi Chardi Kala Jatha

Video of 2014 LA Baisakhi by Siri Dyal Kaur Khalsa 

Video of 2014 LA Baisakhi by Elena Tchoujtchenko

Photos by Siri Dyal Kaur Khalsa  

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