New Brunswick

Sikh community in Shediac marks religious holiday with celebratory parade

The Sikh community in Shediac celebrated the festival of Vaisakhi. A nagar kirtan, or a procession of people, sang hymns while walking to the site where a future temple will be built.

Vaisakhi marks the creation of Sikhism in 1699 and the beginning of harvest season

The Sikh community in Shediac celebrated the festival of Vaisakhi on Sunday. (Serge Clavet/Radio-Canada)

The Sikh community in Shediac gathered Sunday to celebrate the religious holiday of Vaisakhi.

Vaisakhi marks the creation of Sikhism in 1699 and the beginning of the harvest season.

Prabhjot Singh participated in what he says is the first widely held nagar kirtan in New Brunswick.

The tradition involves a procession of people singing hymns. In this case, they wandered to the site that will house their future temple. 

"It's a very religious festival in the Sikh community." he said as he served free handmade food at the group's temporary temple. 

Prabhjot Singh participated in a nagar kirtan in Shediac. It was held to mark the religious holiday of Vaisakhi. (Serge Clavet/Radio-Canada)

"Anybody from any religion, any caste or anywhere in Canada can come here, sit here, eat here.... We are helping each other because we are building a community here," said Singh.

The principle follows that of seva — or selfless service — a concept that was embodied by Sikhism's founding gurus.

The province's Sikh community had been hoping to put on a nagar kirtan since last year, but COVID-19 restrictions prevented it. 

The province's Sikh community had been hoping to put on a nagar kirtan since last year but could not because of COVID-19 restrictions. (Serge Clavet/Radio-Canada)

That's why it's been a relief for Navdeep Singh to put on the procession.

"I'm very grateful and excited because everyone in our community wanted [to have a] Sikh temple here where we can worship," said Singh.

He said it's good for members of the community to get together for a celebration like this because they have the shared experience of being immigrants missing their homes. 

A procession of people and cars headed toward the site that will eventually house a Sikh temple. A chariot containing the holy book, Guru Granth Sahib, also was part of the procession. (Serge Clavet/Radio-Canada)

"A lot of people are moving.... The community is growing and there's a need of Sikh temple."

Navneet Kaur moved here from Toronto and said this event is a way to remember her culture and bring a sense of community to the area. 

"Having the nagar kirtan held in [the Atlantic provinces] is really a proud moment for me, and I feel like everyone will join and will respect our culture and will know more about it."

Several hundred people from around the Maritimes attended the event.

Vaisakhi marks the creation of Sikhism in 1699 and the beginning of the harvest season. (Serge Clavet/Radio-Canada)

With files from Serge Clavet and Janique LeBlanc

now