LAST Saturday, I had the pleasure and the privilege of participating in the largest Vaisakhi celebration in North America. I joined tens of thousands of people who took time to enjoy the annual Khalsa Day parade in Surrey to celebrate the beginning of harvest season in India, and the birth of the Khalsa.
For the Sikh faith, Vaisakhi represents a time of rebirth, renewal, equality and strength. It was on this day in 1699 that the tenth Guru, Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji, chose to inaugurate Sikhs into the Khalsa.
The Vaisakhi celebrations attracted people from every culture, and gave us all a chance to experience the great diversity that makes British Columbia so special.
Since becoming Minister Responsible for Multiculturalism, I’ve attended many events throughout the province and the one thing that has always stood out for me is how proud we are in B.C. to honour our multicultural roots. I’ve seen beautiful art installations, amazing dance and theatre performances, and talked one-on-one with people from many cultures.
I was very impressed to see the Yue Shan Society’s performance of the Lion Dance received so positively at the Khalsa Day Parade in Surrey this year. The smiles on thousands and thousands of faces were a clear demonstration of how our diverse communities can thrive in a tolerant and inclusive society. The dance itself is believed to bring good luck and fortune.
This marked the first time that the Yue Shan Society participated in Vaisakha celebrations. I encourage the South Asian community and all British Columbians to take part in the many different ethnic celebrations that take place in British Columbia every year, including the Chinatown Spring Parade next year.
This blending of cultures and traditions makes us who we are today. Our diverse communities have always played an important role in the development of our society – socially, economically and culturally. They have contributed mightily to our past and to our present and will play a vital role in our future.
Today, British Columbia thrives as a welcoming and inclusive society.
BY TERESA WAT
Minister of International Trade and
Minister Responsible for the Asia Pacific Strategy and Multiculturalism
(Photos by Chandra Bodalia)