Guru's words Reign Supreme at 29th Sikh Parade in Yuba City
Dr Amrik Singh

YUBA CITY, CA: Even the rains just before the Yuba City Sikh Parade failed to cast a dampener but a clear sky, sunny morning, religious fervor and love of the eternal Guru brought out some 70,000 Sikhs for the 29th Parade on Sunday, marking the 300th year of the Guruship of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the scriptures that carry the message of peace and universal brotherhood, and make Sikh religion the most unique. 

Sikhs came from as far as Washington DC, Los Angeles, Espanola, New Mexico, Vancouver and elsewhere in Canada to honor their Guruís message as waves of blue turbaned youth and saffron dupattas, traditionally salwar-kameez dressed and attired in western clothes mingled, all enjoying the hymns of gurbani wafting over the crowds. 

Besides Sikhs, people from almost all faiths joined in the parade and expressed their thankfulness for a unique experience.   

The actual programs ran for three days and while Friday and Saturday witnessed Kirtan Darbars, Dhadhi Darbar and Kavi Darbars, there was also a seminar held that was dedicated to the tercentenary of Gurta Gaddi Diwas. 

Sikh gurdwaras from all over the USA, various Sikh organizations, Sikh Student Associations, cultural clubs and business organization had their floats decked with multi-colored backgrounds with motifs of Guruís message. The gurbani hymns added to the dreamlike atmosphere of the parade.  

The Sikh Parade that has blended with diverse cultures of Sutter County attracted many a TV crews, journalists of ethnic and American media and artists.  

The Sikhs of course felt proud of the show and the media back home in Punjab and community media across the globe focused on the show but perhaps the real achievement was in something as common place as a group of young white American youth coming to see the parade at the insistence of a Sikh friend and complaining that they really wanted some little booklets to be distributed so that they can read a bit more about this wonderful religion.  

In post 9/11 times when there is a dire need to tell the world who the Sikhs are and how their religion and scriptures have the message and the community has the conviction that teachings of the Guru are in consonance with the most democratic ideals of a just and peaceful society and ideas of love, peace and devotion will be the ruling ideas of the world. It is here that the Yuba City Sikh Parade succeeded in underlining the message.  

Thatís why the neighboring Americans who live along the route of the Parade instead of complaining about the traffic congestion actually look forward to the occasion, and some even call their friends to have an experience of the Sikh culture and religion showcased. That the Sikhs distribute free snacks, food and drinks in keeping with their great religious tradition of Langar only helps to win more.  

Among the kirtani jathas that regaled the sangat with gurbani were that of Huzuri ragi Bhai Pritam Singh Mithhe-Tiwane wale, Bhai Manjit Singh, Gurmeet Singh Pathankot wale, Bhai Sukhwinder Singh Huzuri Ragi Sri Darbar Sahib, Bhai Davinder Singh Amritsar wale, Bhai Balbir Singh Siddiqui, Bhai Gulbagh Singh and others.  

The dhadhi jatha of Bhai Komal Singh Komal, Bhai Sukhwinder Singh Grewal, Bhai Gurnam Singh Bhandal, katha-kaar Principal Dr Inderjeet Kaur Vaasu, Bibi Asha Sharma and Pritam Jyoti Kaur were also highly appreciated. 

But perhaps those more closely linked with the politics of the Sikh domain could not but help notice the control that Didar Singh Bains was still exercising over the stage, not allowing anyone to speak beyond the allotted time or bringing in local politics. The winning side of course also tried to stress its presence during the Nagar Kirtan. 

In his address, Dr Amarjit Singh from Washington said Devinder Pal Singh Bhullarís death sentence should be commuted while Gurmit Singh Aulakh reiterated his standard and well known position on Sikh sovereignty. Dr Pritpal Singh of American Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee said Sikhs need to introspect after all the centenaries that they have celebrated. Dilbagh Singh Bains also addressed the sangat. 

But perhaps it is the Sikh Parade that wins all hearts and remains the core of the celebrations in Yuba City every year. The excitement of the young in preparing, decorating and equipping their floats gives them positive energy to stay away from drugs, crimes and gang involvement. They consider themselves a part of the community that advocates recognizing other faiths, groups and belief systems.

The Sikh Parade also increases interaction of the community with elected officials, lawmakers and law enforcement.

It is a great challenge for the Sutter County to make arrangements for the parade. Lt. Governor John Garamendi joined the congregation on Saturday, November 1, 2008 and watched a movie about the universal message of Guru Granth Sahib. Three more movies were screened to make connection with the Sikh history. One such movie focused on the tragic life of Maharaja Duleep Singh who suffered unbearable miseries at the hands of the British.  Sherriff department had made elaborate arrangements to maintain order for the free flow of traffic on the streets.  

This writer talked with a number of people to know about their experiences who came for the parade for the first time. Robert, Garry, Pete and Pam came all the way from Sacramento. Though they did not know anything about the actual purpose of the Sikh Parade, they however figured out it was for peace. On being informed about Guru Granth Sahibís uniqueness, one of them suggested some written information would have been very helpful for the first timers like him.   

Students of Punjabi course at Sacramento State University and Sacramento City College at Davis while enjoying the Parade were able to read many signs in Gurmukhi and were so happy to experience what they were learning in the classroom. Katie, though she has been living in Yuba city for last four years now, came for the first time on the suggestion of a certain friend. She said it was so ennobling for her and her children and that she would not miss any parade in the future.

Among the floats were those of Sikh Youth of America, LA Sikh Sangat, World Sikh Council, Punjabi Youth Club, Yuba City Sikh Sangat, Radio Geet Sangeet, West Sacramento, Roseville, American Red Cross, All California Sikh Students Association, Akal Academy Baru Sahib etc.  

Among the Sikh leaders who participated were Johan Singh Gill, Tejinder Singh Dosanjh, Pavinder Singh Kariha, Akali leader Kulwant Singh Khehra, Nijhar Brothers, Jaspreet Singh, Gurnam Singh Pamma, Harbans Jandali Toronto, Tutt Brothers, Balwant Virk, Amarjeet Baasi, Giani Ajmer Singh Karsewa wale, Raunak Singh, Karamdeep Singh Bains, harbans Pamma, Balvir Sohal, Charan Singh Gill, Master Jagir Singh, Balwinder Basra, Kulwinder Mahi, Kamaljit Kariha, Jaswinder Singh Jandi, Jasjeet Singh Fremont, Giani Wadhawa Singh, Dr Gurinder Singh Kanwar and many others.  

A special studio on behalf of Comcast Cable News Network was set up at the premises of Professor Hari Singh Everestís on Tierra Buena Rd. Dr. Jasbir Singh Kang of  Sikh American Heritage held special interviews for Central Valley Comcast. Dr. Onkar Singh Bindra, a former Professor and Alumni of UC Berkeley distributed information about the approval a new course "Sikh American and Globalization" at California State University Sacramento.   

TV channel 8 will telecast the coverage of the Parade on November 23, 2008 at 4 PM and November 29 at 3 PM. It is also available on Online Newly founded JUS Punjabi TV on Dish Network Channel 809 covered live all proceedings of the 29th Sikh Parade.

(With inputs from WSN Bureau)



Guruís words Reign Supreme at 29th Sikh Parade in Yuba City