With this month’s Vaisakhi events cancelled around Metro Vancouver, Sikhs in BC are finding other ways to celebrate while helping those most in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A collective of Sikh faith-based groups across the region — including Kaur Project, One Voice Canada, SAF, Khalsa Aid, Guru Nanak’s Free Kitchen, and SAMHAA — have joined together to create Virtual Vaisakhi — an initiative to raise donations and give back to others during this difficult time.
For Sikhs around the world, Vaisakhi is a religious celebration. The holy day commemorates the birth or establishment of Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the tenth Sikh Guru, in 1699.
In Metro Vancouver, large religious processions known as Nagar Kirtans take place in Vancouver and Surrey and are attended by hundreds of thousands of community members. Surrey’s Nagar Kirtan is the largest in the world outside of India.
The celebrations are bright, colourful, and spiritual in nature. Free meals are offered to all visitors as an act of seva (selfless service) — a key pillar of the Sikh faith.
Although this year’s events will not be taking place, BC’s Sikh community is continuing on with the spirit of seva with Virtual Vaisakhi.
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In a matter of days, Virtual Vaisakhi has already served 25,000 meals, delivered hundreds of grocery orders, and coordinated a glove, mask, and health care meal delivery.
“This year, we are directly asking and inspiring Sikhs and non-Sikhs to collectively open their wallets and hearts to help invoke the Spirit of Vaisakhi to address the most pressing and emerging needs with organizations working with local food banks, seniors outreach, marginalized communities and domestic support services. Let’s celebrate Vaisakhi by helping others,” said organizer Jesse Kaur Lehail.
“We’re all in this together and 100% of proceeds will go directly to community initiatives.”
Legendary Sikh Riders Club gives back
Over the long weekend, the Legendary Sikh Riders motorcycle club was also busy giving back to the community in the spirit Vaisakhi.
Leading a motorcycle ride from the RCMP Main Detachment, the Legendary Sikh riders joined up with the Surrey RCMP to help volunteers with Khalsa Aid deliver food to the Surrey Urban Mission.
“This ride represents the strong bond shared by residents of Surrey that is made stronger by their commitment to lift up those in need, especially during this difficult time,” said organizers in a statement.