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Parade highlights a unique tradition

Staff Reporter – 

The Punjabi community in many parts of the country will get together next week to begin the annual Vaisakhi Festival with piety, grandeur and unity, highlighting one of the most fascinating traditions that date back hundreds of years.

Street processions including floats, parade by members of the community will form a part of the festivities.

Nagar Kirtans

Parade highlights-Sri Kalgidhar Sahib Gurdwara-Procession 2 WebDevotees, volunteers, workers and community workers of Gurdwara Sahib Otahuhu will organise the annual ‘Nagar Kirtan,’ a street parade on Saturday, April 9, 2016.

Organised by the Supreme Sikh Society New Zealand, which manages the Otahuhu Gurdwara Sahib and Sir Kalgidhar Sahib (Takanini) in Auckland, the ‘Street Parade’ is an event which brings together devotees of the community not only from Auckland but also from other places including Hamilton and Tauranga.

Spokesman Daljit Singh said that this year’s event will mark the 21st anniversary of ‘Nagar Kirtan’ and that this special event has been growing in popularity over the years. The procession will commence at 11 am (on April 9) from the Gurdwara Sahib Otahuhu (located at 120 Princes Street) and cover the distance up to the Shopping Mall and return by 3 pm. More than 1000 men, women and children, political and community leaders will join the Parade.

Parade highlights-Sri Kalgidhar Sahib Gurdwara-Five Sikhs Web

Otahuhu Gurdwara

“Nagar Kirtan is a Sikh custom involving processional singing of Holy Hymns. Although these Hymns are regularly recited at home, Gurdwaras and other religious and social occasions, they form an important part of the Vaisakhi Festival.’

“Traditionally, the Procession is led by saffron-robed ‘Panj Pyare,’ the Five beloved disciples of the Guru (details follow in this article), and by ‘Guru Granth Sahib,’ the Holy Book containing the Holy Scriptures, placed on a float. It is common for the members of the public to show their obeisance by bowing before the Holy Scriptures. ‘Sewadars’ or volunteers will clean the roads and facilitate the event,” he said.

The Otahuhu Gurdwara will observe the Vaisakhi Festival on Sunday, April 10.

Sri Kalgidhar Sahib Gurdwara

Sri Kalgidhar Sahib Gurdwara, located at 70, Takanini School Road in Takanini will celebrate Vaisakhi from April 15 to April 17, 2016 with tens of thousands of people visiting one of the largest places of Sikh worship in the world.

“Prayers and other religious events will be held inside the Gurdwara throughout the festive season. Three preachers are arriving from India specially for the Festival. A baptising ceremony will be held at 3 pm on April 17, 2016, while a number of games, including Kabaddi, Soccer and Volleyball will be held at the Complex grounds,” Mr Singh said.

Thrilling history

Vaisakhi is one of the most important dates in the Sikh calendar.

It is the Sikh New Year festival that will be celebrated in India and most parts of the world on April 13, 2016. It will also commemorate 1699, the year in which Sikhism was born as a collective faith.

The creation of the ‘Khalsa’ was the culmination of a process of social and spiritual uplift that began two centuries earlier by Guru Nanak Sahib, the founder of Sikhism, who was born in 1469.

In 1699, the tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, chose Vaisakhi as the occasion to transform the Sikhs into a family of soldier saints, known as the ‘Khalsa Panth.’

He founded the ‘Khalsa’ in the presence of thousands of people at Anadpur Sahib. On the day of Vaisakhi, he came out of a tent carrying a sword.

He challenged any Sikh who was prepared to give his life to come into the tent.

One volunteer came forward and was taken into the tent. A while later, the Guru returned alone with his sword covered in blood. He then requested another volunteer and repeated the action four times until five men disappeared into the tent.

The crowd was very concerned until they saw the five men emerge from the tent with the Guru, wearing turbans.

These five men came to be known as the ‘Panj Pyaras, or the ‘Beloved Five.’

Photo:

  1. File Photo of the Procession organised by Gurdwara Sahib Otahuhu, in Auckland highlighting Vaisakhi festivities
  2. Heritage, Tradition and Goodwill mark Vaisakhi
  3. The ‘Panj Pyaras,’ or ‘Five Sikhs’ symbolise heroism, discipline and devotion

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