Surrey’s annual Vaisakhi Parade draws thousands of people, but the ancient harvest festival is a quieter affair in Nanaimo where Sikh temples welcome everyone to share food, festivities and religious observances. Black Press file photo

Nanaimo’s Indian community celebrates ancient harvest festival

Vaisakhi marks time of religious festivities and 100 years since massacre

Throughout April people of the Sikh faith in Nanaimo are celebrating Vaisakhi, a harvest festival that dates back thousands of years.

Vaisakhi celebrations in some communities include colourful parades and free food that draw thousands of people to the festivities, as well as quieter religious observances. Vasaikhi parades are scheduled in Vancouver Saturday, April 13, and in Surrey, April 20.

In Nanaimo the Sikh community will invite people to come to local temples to share in food and experience a taste of Sikh culture.

“We have just a recitation of our bible that is three days and that is called akhand path – that means continuously reading holy book,” said Shiv Sharma, community spokesman.

Friday to Sunday, April 12-14, religious observances and festivities will be hosted at Gurdwara Sahib Miri Piri Darbar temple at 305 Prideaux St. and a second celebration at Sikh Temple at 328 Third St. April 19-21.

Everyone is welcome to Vaisakhi festivals and observances.

This year also marks the 100 years since the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, April 13, 1919, when British troops opened fire on a crowd of unarmed Indians who had gathered for a Vaisakhi celebration, killing and injuring hundreds of people.

“We are doing a red salute to all those patriots who died in that massacre,” Sharma said.

Sharma will also speak about Vaisakhi on his radio program Apna Sur Sangeet (Our Tune and Music) that airs on CHLY Radio on Sunday, April 21, 2-4 p.m.
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