The 37th annual Sikh Parade was organised in Yuba City, California, this week. The three-day festival — the biggest Sikh event outside of India — was held from 3rd to the 6th of this month. The parade, a celebration of the Guru Granth Sahib and its teachings, had Sikhs from all over the world in attendance. The event had 24 hours of prayer, music and food. In keeping with the traditions of Sikhism, the food at the event was provided for free. An estimated 4,00,000 free meals were offered throughout the event. The past parades have seen participation of an estimated 85,000-95,000 people from all over the world.
California has a huge number of Punjabis residing in the state as they were the first ones to migrate to California at the beginning of the twentieth century. The immigrants who settled in California took to farming and other agricultural activities. The descendants of these first Sikh pioneers were also part of the three-day festival in Yuba City. “Sikhs have played a critical role in California’s agriculture, economy and culture of innovation, and even though they may look different and wear turbans, they are the most civic-minded, engaged Americans I have ever met,” said UC Davis Library and UC Davis historian and lecturer Nicole Ranganath to The Sacremento Bee.
The festival witnessed the true spirit of Indian hospitality as it saw the coming together of people from all religions and races breaking bread together. The parade, which was a 7-kilometer route, had people offering Indian sweets and savouries to passersby. “I learned compassion and forgiveness from my Christian friends and self-discipline from my Muslim friends,” Dr Jasbir Kang, a local historian who emigrated to Yuba City in 1986, was quoted saying to The Sacremento Bee.