Ruth writes: Last Sunday the Khalsa parade was due to start from the CNE at 1pm. It arrived at Toronto’s City Hall at 3:30pm. The size of the crowd might look intimidating, but up on the elevated walkway that circles Nathan Phillips Square the view was great and the audience there sparse in comparison. There must have been 100,000 people down in the square.
I arrived at 2:30pm so there was time to get some food without standing in long lines then. The square was lined with stalls. The friendly young woman next to me explained that the food was prepared by individual groups, not temples, as a way of giving, of sharing. It was free to anyone who wanted it, she said. It was Sikh hospitality.
She was a good guide. She pointed out a Sikh celebrity, the NBA basketball player Sim Bhullar. She said she would never date a celebrity like him with everybody wanting to take a picture with him. When I asked her, she explained that most Sikhs weren’t concerned about an independent Khalistan.
On the stage, musicians were playing and chanting prayers. A priest was collecting offerings.
The northwest corner of the walkway was ideal for pictures. The parade arrived just below it.
From the walkway was a great view of people reaching to touch the glass enclosing the Granth, the holy book of the Sikhs.
From the walkway we could see men handing out karah parshad, food blessed by a guru or teacher, which is given to worshipers at religious events. It is made of flour, butter and sugar.
But it’s not just the friendly people, food and religion that draws me annually to this festival. It’s the colour – and last weekend with the sun shining warmly, many of these people were freed of their dark winter coats. Yellow turbans brightened the scene. They met friends or gathered in small family groups. They were friendly, as always pleased to answer the questions of strangers.
Sikhism is a monotheistic religion, the fifth largest religion in the world. It was founded in India’s Punjab state in the 15th century by Guru Nanak Dev.
Another Khalsa parade and free banquet will take place this weekend on May 3 at 1pm. in Mississauga. The annual Vaisakhi Nagar Kirtan will start at the Malton Gurdwara (temple) at 7280 Airport Road. Unfortunately, I haven’t found any uncrowded elevated walkway from which to see it there. The parade then proceeds to the Rexdale Gurdwara. http://heyevent.com/event/408118862700485/vaisakhi-nagar-kirtan-2015. If you go, please let us know the best place to experience it.