Here Comes the Vaisakhi Parade!
What to expect and how to prepare for Surrey’s most colourful event
Vaisakhi is a century-old holiday that’s celebrated by Sikhs around the world. The holiday marks a number of things including the spring harvest, the Punjabi New Year, and the birth of Sikhism in 1699.
Having grown up in Surrey, I’ve seen the annual Vaisakhi Parade (also known as Nagar Kirtan) grow into the phenomenal event it is today. With over 200,000 visitors each year, it’s considered by many to be the largest Vaisakhi Parade in the world. And it happens right here in our city!
Visitors from all over the province and even the United States make their way to Surrey each year to take part in the religious ceremonies and the vibrant festivities related to the parade. If you are considering coming out to watch the procession, then I’ve got some tips that will make the visit a little easier and a lot more enjoyable for you.
Attendees of all cultures are welcome at the parade.
Although Vaisakhi has a religious significance for Sikhs, people of all cultures are welcome to attend the parade. As a sign of respect, attendees are encouraged to cover their head while walking behind the float procession, or eating food from the stalls set up along the parade route.
Know the parade route and parking spots.
The parade begins at Gurdwara Dashmesh Darbar (12885 85th Ave) and travels along 124th Street and 128th Street before returning to the temple. Most streets near this route will be blocked to traffic, and parking will be difficult to find. Your best option is to get a ride to drop you off near the parade route or to take public transit to the area instead.
As the parade moves along the route, the crowds and entertainment move with it. If it’s your first time at the parade, I suggest finding a spot somewhere along the route before the floats reach that area, and waiting for the procession. This way you can get a view of all the floats as they go by.
Along the parade route there will be a number of stages set up that feature live entertainment such as singing and dancing. Stop and watch an act or two to get a feel for the festive flavour of Vaisakhi!
One of the biggest draws of the Vaisakhi parade is all the food. Many families and businesses set up free food stalls on the day of the parade. This is to celebrate the spirit of seva (service) and langar (the community kitchen) within the Sikh community. Feel free to sample the food and try new items. I guarantee you won’t regret it!
Wear comfortable clothes and shoes.
The Vaisakhi Parade can get quite crowded, and you will likely be doing a lot of walking as you take in the varied entertainment, check out the floats, and of course, sample the food! You may want to debut those cute spring shoes you just bought, but trust me, this is not a day to forego sensible shoes! Comfort comes first.
I hope you’ll get out to the Vaisakhi Parade this year and experience all the colours, flavours, and joy of the occasion – it truly is a visual delight, and a unique TrueSurrey experience!
Thanks to Raj Thandhi of Pink Chai Living for these wonderful Vaisakhi tips!
Photo Credit Aziz Dhamani