Nagar Kirtan celebration in Calgary

Nagar Kirtan 2023: Members of Calgary Sikh community honour Guru Granth Sahib ji, the Sikh holy book, during the parade in Calgary, Alberta on Saturday, May 13, 2023.(Photo by Kunal Sehdev/The Press)

Northeast Calgary’s streets came alive with vibrant colours and the enchanting sounds of hymns as the Nagar Kirtan parade took over the city.

Sikhs commemorate the establishment of the Khalsa, or community and bring Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy book to the community by participating in Nagar Kirtan. This event holds great significance in Sikh tradition and is often a grand event.

As a part of the celebration, Sri Guru Granth Sahib is taken on a procession, where it is honoured by the Sikhs on its way.

The parade is held during the month of Vaisakhi, which signifies the birth of the Khalsa (foundation of the Sikh religion) and the advent of the Sikh New Year. In addition to being a religious celebration, it is also a special occasion to showcase and pay homage to the rich and cultural heritage of the Sikh community.

The Nagar Kirtan is held once a year in Calgary, making it a vibrant festival with a display of colourful floats. On this day, the Sikhs wear traditional attire and walk through the streets, singing religious hymns and spreading positivity.

“I am very happy to saw the activities that are organized by the event managers,’’ said Abhi Gill, an event attendee. “And also they are giving away gifts to the winners who are giving the right answers about the Sikhs religion.”

The Dashmesh Culture Centre successfully organized the Nagar Kirtan in Calgary’s north east, which brought together people from diverse faiths and cultures. The attendees enjoyed the devotional singing and chanting, with many voluntary performances.

The Dashmesh Cultural Centre covered transportation costs through Calgary Transit,  allowing everyone to commute freely throughout the city on Saturday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The decision came as a part of an effort to make Nagar Kirtan, the Sikh Parade, as widely attended as possible.

The organizers ensured that transportation was not a barrier for anyone who wishes to attend the event.

The society’s objective of promoting love, unity, and peace among different communities was evident throughout the evening, as people of all ages came together to celebrate the power of devotional service.

Among the highlights of the event was a performance of Gatka, a traditional martial art that represents courage and bravery of the Sikhs. In addition to showcasing their rich culture, the Sikhs also demonstrated their hospitality and generosity by providing free vegetarian food for all the attendees irrespective of their background.

This move has been praised largely as it ensures everyone feels welcomed and foster a sense of community among the attendees.

A staggering number of 2,00,000 people gathered for the event. The event was also notable for the impressive array of cool motorcycles, as Sikhs proudly displayed their passion for riding alongside their commitment to promoting cultural exchange.

“I was blown away by the sheer number of people who came here, for this event, and seeing all the amazing bikes on display was like a cherry on top,” says Ramanjeet Singh, a first-time attendee.

“It’s so beautiful that the Sikh community is not only dedicated to their culture, but also in creating a warm and welcoming environment for everyone.”

Amidst a sea of colourful turbans and traditional attire, Sikhs from all corners of the city gathered together to celebrate their rich cultural heritage.

The traditional music and dance were also showcased, adding to the festive vibes.

The event witnessed a diverse range of attendees, from young children to elderly members of the community, all united in their support for an independent Sikh nation. Throughout the day, various speakers took the stage to shed light on the struggles faced by Sikhs both locally and abroad.

“I am moved by the passion and dedication of everyone here today. It’s inspiring to see such diverse group also, the fight for Sikh sovereignty is not just a political issue, but a deeply personal one for many of us,” said Gill.

“As a Sikh myself, I feel a sense of responsibility to advocate the rights and recognition of our community both locally and abroad.”

Approximately 20,000 people gather for the Nagar Kirtan celebration at Prairie Winds Park in Calgary.(Photo by Kunal Sehdev/The Press)
About Kunal Sehdev 4 Articles
As a news reporting and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Kunal Sehdev is working as a writer for The Press in 2023.