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Second annual celebration bringing community together

'The whole purpose is to educate people about who we are and where we come from and everything about us ... And also we’d like to learn everything about everyone else too'
2022-06-25 Khalsa Day1 MH
The first-ever Khalsa Day celebration was held in Timmins on June 25, 2022.

The local Sikh community is gearing up for this year’s Khalsa Day celebration.

Kanwaljit Bains, one of the organizers of the event, said they’re looking forward to sharing aspects of Sikh culture with everyone in Timmins.

“The whole purpose is to educate people about who we are and where we come from and everything about us,” she said. “And also we’d like to learn everything about everyone else too.”

Khalsa Day is usually celebrated in mid-April, but Bains said they moved the event in the hopes of good weather.

“If we were to do the parade in April, it’s too cold outside,” said Bains. “We decided to do it in May.”

Bains hopes the growing community of international students will be a part of the planning of events like the parade in the future.

“They’re new to the country, they don’t know the system yet,” she said. “And they’re here to study, and they’re trying to juggle between studies, and a part-time job or a full-time job.”

The Khalsa Day parade will start at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 27 from the Gurdwara at 24 Cedar St. S, head toward Hollinger Park using Cedar Street South, Second Avenue and Brunette before circling back to the temple using Algonquin Boulevard.

There will be vegetarian food, vendors and a Gatka demonstration during the parade, as well as Sikh hymns.

“You’ll have people walking behind our sacred book that is carried with all due respect on a flatbed,” she said. “While we’re walking, you will be hearing the priest on the flatbed singing the hymns from our sacred book.”

Bains said the celebration marks the beginning of the Sikh way of life.

“It is the birth of Khalsa, our religion, and the Sikh way of life,” she said. “A Sikh is a warrior, a fighter and a saint as well.”

That evening, the community is hosting a concert in Hollinger Park featuring Jazzy B starting at 6 p.m.

“The reason we’re doing it all that day is because people are coming from down south,” she said. “It just gives them another thing to enjoy while they’re here.”

She also said that having this event, and other cultural spaces, like the Gurdwara, and the new Punjabi restaurant that opened a few weeks ago, make Timmins a more welcoming place for students travelling from India for post-secondary education.

“They’re saying that it reminds them of home,” she said about the restaurant. “I want them to settle here, that’s my goal, and this is my way to help keep these kids here.”

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The importance of Khalsa Day to Sikhs because it marks the start of the new year and the establishment of the Sikh community in 1699.

“The whole purpose is to get the community involved,” said Bains. 

The event will also include Homefire, an Indigenous drum group, and a prayer from the Indigenous community.

“For them to perform the prayer and the drums, we take that as our honour,” said Bains. “We are on their land and we would like to honour them as part of our ceremony.”

Bains said there are a lot of people coming to town from other communities in Southern Ontario to celebrate.

“A lot more people are coming from down south,” she said. 

She said the local response has also been very positive, and she’s looking forward to seeing larger crowds at the parade.

“We got an overwhelming response from the local community here,” she said. “They said they missed it last year, and they’re looking forward to it this year.”

Amanda Rabski-McColl, LJI Reporter

About the Author: Amanda Rabski-McColl, LJI Reporter

Amanda Rabski-McColl is a Diversity Reporter under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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