Windsor Sikh community marks Vaisakhi with community celebration and flag raising

·2 min read
Volunteers helping to raise a flag on a 40-metre pole outside the Gurdwara as part of Vaisakhi celebrations Sunday. (Jacob Barker/CBC - image credit)
Volunteers helping to raise a flag on a 40-metre pole outside the Gurdwara as part of Vaisakhi celebrations Sunday. (Jacob Barker/CBC - image credit)

Sikhs at the Gurdwara Khalsa Prakash in Windsor came together on Sunday to mark Vaisakhi, also known as Khalsa day. While prayer and song went on inside the Gurdwara, (a Sikh place of worship), outside they raised a gigantic flag.

"Khalsa day means everything for us," said Avtar Singh Kooner, a volunteer who cooks in the Gurdwara's kitchen.

The annual holiday celebrates the founding of the Khalsa order, a special group of initiated Sikhs. It also promotes justice and equality.

Jacob Barker/CBC
Jacob Barker/CBC

"When we become baptized, we are pure," said Jatinder Rai, president of the Gurdwara committee.

"The Sikh principles are that we have to help everyone, doesn't matter who they are," Dr. Sukhdev Singh Kooner said.

The kitchen at the Gurdwara was busy during the ceremony, preparing food for those who came to attend the event but also for the Downtown Mission and the Street Help Soup Kitchen — something it does on a regular basis and throughout the pandemic.

"Those people need more than anybody else... so we try to give as much as we can," Avtar Singh Kooner said. "Whoever needs [it], we deliver there."

Flag ceremony

The day is also one of the days in the year the community replaces the fabric on a gigantic flag that flies in front of the Gurdwara — a tradition that comes from olden times.

"People could see from far ... that my guru is there, I can go worship there. That's the big symbol, why we fly so high," Balwinder Singh, who was one of many helping to cover and raise the flag, said.

Jacob Barker/CBC
Jacob Barker/CBC

Today, the flag is raised using a hydraulic lift and it stands nearly 40 metres high can be spotted at quite a distance from the Gurdwara which is located on County Rd 42. near the Windsor airport.

"You can see [it] from Manning Road," Rai said. "A lot of truck drivers tell us when they come down from Toronto, they said it's very easy to find this place."

Jacob Barker/CBC
Jacob Barker/CBC
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