Kelowna Vaisakhi parade held Saturday after three years without

Vaisakhi returns in a big way

After going without for three years due to the pandemic, Kelowna was once again treated to the Vaisakhi parade and celebration Saturday.

The annual event was held at the Kelowna Sikh Temple on Rutland Road Saturday, with thousands of people from across the community showing up to take in the celebration.

“It's a very proud day for the Sikhs today,” said Paramjit Patara, president of the Kelowna Sikh Temple. “Once a year we want to put out a big celebration to the whole of Kelowna and I'm really, really happy about all of this.”

Saturday was the 10th time the Kelowna Sikh Temple has hosted the Vaisakhi parade, but it's the first time since 2019 due to pandemic cancellations. They held a smaller parking lot event in 2022, but Paramjit said there was a large demand for bringing back the full parade.

“The community has grown a lot since 2019 and that's why we expected such a big crowd,” he said. “The food stalls have doubled since last time.”

Patara said giving away food is a part of the Sikh religion, and that was on full display Saturday, with a number of vendors in the Sikh Temple parking lot handing out an assortment of delicious food items. But even some nearby residents along the parade route had booths in their front yards, handing out food.

Patara said Vaisakhi is celebrated across India at the conclusion of harvest and to celebrate a new year. But for Sikhs, it's also a celebration of the creation of the Khalsa – or the “pure ones” – in 1699.

“Today we're taking our 'Nagar Kirtan' – the parade as its called – through the neighbourhood to bless everyone,” Patara said.

He noted it was challenging to organize the event this year after going without for three years, but he said next year will be even better.

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