Every spring, Sikhs around the world celebrate Vaisakhi Day, a day that marks both the New Year and the anniversary of one of Sikhism’s most important events, the establishment of Khalsa in 1699 and the first Amrit ceremony.
In Greater Vancouver, there are two major Vaisakhi Day celebrations to choose from (or, heck, you can go to both): the Vancouver Vaisakhi Day Parade on April 14, 2012, and the Surrey Vaisahki Day Parade on April 21, 2012. Both celebrations include parade floats, live performers, and free food, generously donated by local community businesses.
The Vancouver Vaisakhi Day Parade, organized by the Khalsa Diwan Society, includes the parade processional, free food, and live music, and attracts 50,000 – 80,000 participants and spectators every year. The parade runs from 11am – 6pm on April 14, and begins at the Sikh Temple at 8000 Ross Street, moves south on Ross Street to SE Marine Drive west to Main Street, north to 49th Avenue, east to Fraser Street, south to 57th Avenue, east to Ross Street and south back to the Temple. (The entire route is 6km long, so you may want to pick a section to stake out, rather than walk the entire processional.)
For an even bigger Vaisakhi celebration, head to Surrey for the annual Surrey Vaisakhi Day Parade, one of the largest Vaisakhi parades outside of India. Up to 200,000 spectators and participants turn out for Surrey’s Vaisakhi Parade, where you’ll likely see local politicians working the crowd, along with the music, free food, live performances, and other festivities.
The Surrey Vaisakhi Day Parade on April 21 begins at the Gurdwara Dashmesh Darbar Temple (12885 85th Avenue in Surrey), travels along 124th Street, turns left onto 75th Avenue, continues on 76th Avenue, onto 128th Street, then returns to the Temple.
Map for the Surrey Vaisakhi Day Parade (more details here)