Recently, I attended Vaisakhi celebrations here in Kelowna. My awareness of Vaisakhi was limited to news broadcasts of similar events in Vancouver and Surrey where the turnout is reported to be in excess of 500,000. I decided that it was time to learn more about what appeared to be a very important community event.
Vaisakhi has its roots in Hinduism and Sikhism. It is a historical and religious festival with distinct significance for each culture. Vaisakhi marks the birth of the Sikh faith and is celebrated at Kelowna’s Sikh Temple.
Rain was threatening when I arrived at the temple but thankfully held off. Traditional dress prevailed, men with their turbans, mostly orange, women garbed in their colorful, traditional gowns. The area in front of the temple was jammed in readiness for a parade through the community. Music, revving motorcycles, loud chatter and even the bagpipes from the local Scottish marching band made for a rather chaotic scene.
But this day was much more than preparations for a parade. It was about sharing food and a meal with friends and neighbours. It was about happiness and strength garnered from an extended, productive family unit. And it was about celebrating the traditions and faith of a centuries old religion. I hope the gallery of images I’ve included below captures the incredible feeling and excitement that permeated this celebration.
So, for 3 hours I joined the crowd. While I made lots of images I spent much time people watching and chatting. Clearly, there was respect of all members of the community regardless of age. I discovered also, that the ethnic food that was free for the asking was delicious. All and all it was a wonderful afternoon.