PEI

Hundreds gather on P.E.I. for traditional Sikh celebrations

Hundreds of people on P.E.I. came together Saturday take part in Vaisakhi celebrations, which are a traditional part of Sikh culture.

'We are all one human race and anyone can be a part of this event'

Hundreds of people from across the Island came together Saturday to partake in Vaisakhi celebrations. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

Hundreds of people from across the Island came together Saturday to take part in Vaisakhi celebrations. 

Vaisakhi originated as a harvest festival in India's Punjab region hundreds of years ago and is celebrated every year in mid-April.

In 1699, it took on special significance for Sikhs when Guru Gobind Singh — the 10 Sikh guru — created the order of the Khalsa.

Savneet Singh, one of the organizers of the event, said Khalsa means "pure."

Organizer, Savneet Singh says it's the first time the community has held a Vaisakhi celebration on the Island and more than 300 people attended the event throughout the day. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

"Pure means to make the ultimate man, the ultimate man in the sense that the Khalsa can raise, if there's a situation to raise a voice against injustice, Khalsa has to step forward," Singh said. 

Singh said more than 300 people attended the celebration at the Hillsborough Park Community Centre in Charlottetown throughout the day. He said the event was the biggest he's hosted on the Island so far and a sign that the Sikh community is growing on P.E.I. 

The celebration featured music, hymns and prayers and a free community meal called langar. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

"We had not expected this, some are living in Montague, some are living in Hunter River," Singh said. "The community is growing here, it's a beautiful place."

Music, prayers, community feast

The celebration featured music, hymns and prayers and a presentation about the origins of Vaisakhi and its importance within Sikh culture.

The day ended with the Sikh tradition of langar, which is the free community meal offered every day at Sikh temples around the world. 

'Everyone, every religion, every caste can come over here. There's no restrictions for man, for woman, any religion because as for Khalsa ideology all human race is one,' Singh says. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

"It's free and everyone, every religion, every caste can come over here," Singh said. "There's no restrictions for man, for woman, any religion because as for Khalsa ideology all human race is one."

During the meal, everyone sits together on the floor, which Singh said is a symbol that everyone is equal.

The event was open to anyone who wanted to attend. Singh said he plans to host more public events to create opportunities for everyone on the Island to learn more about Sikh culture.

Singh says people sit on the floor and eat together, a symbol that everyone is equal, and the food is prepared and served by volunteers in the Sikh community. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

"We are a part of P.E.I. and we are a part of Islanders," Singh said. "I would request … everyone to come join and learn something new about our religion.

"We are all one human race and anyone can be a part of this event."

Singh said the community will host the annual celebration on P.E.I. again next spring.

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