Vancouver Vaisakhi 2014

Vaisakhi is an annual festival celebrated by Sikhs. Part harvest or “thanksgiving”, part commemoration for founding of Khalsa in 1699 by Guru Gobind Singh, 10th Guru of the Sikhs. Khalsa represents code of conduct and commitment to the faith – once baptized, members adhere to the five K’s.  Kesh – uncut hair, Kanga – wooden comb, Kara – iron bracelet, Kacchera – specific cotton underwear and Kirpan – dagger or sword. Symbols identifying their commitment to uphold Sikh ideals of honesty, equality, fidelity, meditation on God, not bowing to tyranny and protecting the weak. Sikhs are forbidden to dishonour their hair, eat meat slaughtered in the Muslim way, cohabitate with anyone other than their souse or use tobacco. The following link gives a more detailed history.

Vancouver has one of the largest Sikh populations outside India. Vaisakhi celebrations in British Columbia take place over two consecutive weekends. Today marked the Vancouver parade, next Saturday Surrey holds an even larger celebration. Work permitting we never miss an opportunity to walk the parade route.

Vaisakhi makes everyone feel welcome. It doesn’t matter if you understand the nuances, speak the language or know Sikh history. Music and laughter fill the air, warm smiles extend past religious and cultural borders. Vaisakhi lifts spirits while serving as ambassador to the true meaning of multiculturalism.

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Vancouver Vaisakhi

Tomorrow brings Vancouver’s annual Vaisakhi parade. Vaisakhi celebrates the birth of Khalsa and the Sikh religion, as well as the start of harvest in the Punjab. A simplistic description if ever there was one, I’m no expert on the Sikh faith. I do appreciate a good festival though, and this one is a keeper.


We stumbled upon this annual festival a few years ago; it remains on our must do list ever since. Vancouver puts the “multi” in “cultural”, almost half the residents don’t have English as a first language. At Vaisakhi, a smile is the common language. I can’t quite put my finger on it but for some reason Vaisakhi is able to celebrate a deeply religious, significant observance in a welcoming, positive way.  Nothing is for sale – home after home along the parade route sets out tables offering everything from chai tea and pakoras to curries and sweets. With tireless smiles upwards of 100,000 people are treated with the same respect.

Dance as Bhangra music pulls you to a stage, marvel while flowers fall from airplanes, soak up the history and ceremony as the parade passes by. Ponder an afternoon where no matter who you are, you’re welcomed – no strings attached.

Why Do We Shoot Ourselves In The Foot?

Far from being an expert in any way other than my wits; my mind has been plagued recently by this ponder. I can’t stop wondering if mankind has reached the limit of evolution. The basis of my thesis is our seemingly endless capacity to shoot ourselves in the foot.

It is entirely possible that I mistake common sense for reality – I’ve given that point considerable thought – and every time I reach the same conclusion. Despite our technological advances, understanding of science and nature, or light speed communication; we’re taking one step forward two steps back.

Call me a crazy idealistic fool, but I don’t see us getting over this hump without a few things happening. First – religion has to be taken out of politics. I mean eradicated; delegated to the privacy of our homes. Abolished from political speeches, made accountable for their actions, and subjected to the same rule of law as everyone else. Religious leaders who speak out against homosexuality or abortion should be charged with hate crimes. As should any group such as the Boy Scouts who choose to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. Until we move beyond religion, and biased thinking based on religion – we’re simply shooting ourselves in the foot.

Next we need to come to our senses in regard to organizations like the NRA. It boggles my mind to watch unelected spokespeople dictate policy from the comfort of their tax exempt, non profit towers. I find it beyond comprehension for this or any other lobby group to be given the time of day. Shooting ourselves in the foot is putting it mildly.

Third – lets get over rehashing done deals; women have the right to vote, blacks don’t sit at the back of the bus – and news flash religious fundamentalists – abortion is legal, gay people don’t burn in hell. Memo to the state of Arizona – life begins at the end of a woman’s last period? You geniuses made this law which makes you about as clever as the 63% of Canadians who responded in a recent poll to be in favour of bringing back the death penalty. Shooting ourselves in the foot.

I can’t help but think evolution has ground to a halt. Correct me if I’m wrong but I see no chance of moving forward while stalled on out dated concepts and perceptions. Worse still, we’re too busy shooting ourselves in the foot to even realize it.