One-year-old Fateh Singh getting ready for the Nagar Kirtan celebrating Vaisakhi with the Penticton Sikh Temple on Sunday. It was the first time the temple held a Nagar Kirtan. Kristi Patton/Penticton Western News

South Okanagan celebrates Vaisakhi

Penticton Sikh Temple invited the community to celebrate Vaisakhi with their first Nagar Kirtan

The Penticton Sikh Temple invited the community to celebrate Vaisakhi with their first Nagar Kirtan.

Vaisakhi is a religious festival that is celebrated by Sikhs all over the world and is known as one of the most important events in the Sikh Calendar. It signals the start of the harvest season and the creation of the Khalsa, the Sikh brotherhood.

“It is the most important day for the Sikh’s,” said Bob Singh, director, of the temple management group. “This is like Christmas to us, more or less. Celebrations start weeks early and everyone is congratulating everybody else and the people like to dress up. Coming to the Sikh temples the main event of the day and after that the Sikhs like celebrating to let the people around them know who they really are.”

Nagar Kirtan, which means town hymns, is a Sikh custom involving processional singing of holy humans throughout a community. The procession includes the Guru Garanth Sahib (the holy Sikh book) which is placed on a float. Many will cover their heads and wear the colour orange or dark blue.

“It is a community celebration. That is why we call it Nagar Kirtan … so people around us understand who we are, what Vaisakhi means to us,” said Singh.

There are about 650 members of the Penticton Sikh Temple with people from Penticton and the entire South Okanagan who joined them for Nagar Kirtan. Among those celebrating were Penticton riding candidates Tarik Sayeed (NDP) and Dan Ashton (Liberal). South Okanagan West Kootenay NDP MP Richard Cannings also participated in the procession.