Edmonton Sikh community celebrates Nagar Kirtan
Despite rain, tens of thousands of people fill streets of Mill Woods neighbourhood
Rain didn't dampen the spirits of thousands of people celebrating Nagar Kirtan on the streets of Edmonton's Mill Woods neighbourhood.
While the annual parade, which has been going on since 1999, drew a slightly smaller crowd this year, there were some big names in attendance.
Both current defence minister Harjit Sajjan and former Conservative cabinet minister Tim Uppal braved the cold.
The turnout, Uppal said, speaks to the importance of the event.
"You look around here and even though there's the rain, there's still thousands of people out here celebrating Vaisahki," said Uppal.
Vaisahki, a Sikh holiday thats marks the birth of the faith more than 300 years ago and the Punjabi harvest — it is marked by the Nagar Kirtan.
A procession led by the Five Beloved — baptized followers of the faith chosen without discrimination from the community — began at Ramgaria temple and ended at Singh Sabha temple.
Amrita Singh, who teaches Sikh martial arts, had students marching in the parade.
"I'm really proud of the kids. They were as young as five years old and they were still doing really good," she said.
"They were not shivering, they were not cold at all. They were just so enthusiastic that they were just participating in the martial arts."
Singh said Nagar Kirtan is about bringing people together.
"It's a main festival for Sikhs, but we welcome all communities to get together and we share our culture with them so they can experience what Sikhi is about."
Edmonton's Sikh community has been fundraising for people displaced by the Fort McMurray wildfire and already has nearly reached its goal of $125,000.