An Indian-American langar will be part of famous Rose Parade in California

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A little girl poses in front of the preparations the Sikh community of Southern California is engaged in to build its langar float for the Jan. 1, 2018 Rose Parade in Pasadena, California. This photo was taken Dec. 29. (Photo courtesy Sikh community of Southern California via Sikh Coalition)

Americans in California will learn more about the Indian-American langar, or community meals that are part of Sikh culture and religion at the upcoming Rose Parade in Pasadena Jan. 1.

Sikhs have been part of California’s multicultural community for more than 100 years. Despite that, there have been several incidents of racial and religiously biased attacks on members of the Sikh community in recent years.

The ‘Tournament of Roses,’ as it is formally called, will feature a Sikh langar, or community kitchen, the Sikh Coalition, an advocacy organization, announced Dec. 29. The “United Sikh Mission” is listed as the 55th in the lineup of the Rose Parade’s 88 floats, bands, and other entries like equestrians, in the parade, according to the parade website. Sikhs have been part of the parade for a few years now.

The Rose Parade is a 129-year tradition attended by some one million people and is broadcast nationally on many channels, akin to the Times Square ball-drop that takes place at the stroke of midnight Dec. 31 in New York City.

Building the langar float for the Jan. 1 Rose Parade in Pasadena, California. (Photo: Sikh community of Southern California)

“This year, the Sikh American float will highlight the theme of langar (free community kitchen and meal) and evoke the Sikh teachings of seva (selfless service) and the important charitable work that is being done by the Southern California Sikh community to take care of those in need,” the Sikh Coalition said in a press release.

The Sikh float is using 90,959 flowers and 500 pounds of vegetables to symbolize the meals that can be expected in a langar hall. The float will also showcase beautiful brick walls, a marbled dome roof and scalloped arches to replicate those found at the Darbar Sahib in Amritsar.

“Growing up in California, it was always a dream to see a Sikh float in the Tournament of Roses Parade,” Bhajneet Singh, a member of the Sikh committee responsible for the float entry for the fourth consecutive year, is quoted saying in the press release. “The theme of langar really speaks to the values of Sikhism and the work that we are doing to help our communities every day here in California and across the world.”

According to the Sikh Coalition, the Golden Temple or Darbar Sahib in Amritsar, serves an estimated 100,000 free meals every day, making it one of the largest free kitchens in the world. The Southern California Sikh community “quietly feeds thousands of people across the greater Los Angeles area every single month,” it adds.

A section of the Sikh community langar float in preparation for the Jan. 1, Rose Parade in Pasadena, California. (Photo: Sikh community of Southern California)

Some of the ways in which the community feeds people include the Khalsa Food Pantry open every Friday evening, monthly barbequeues, and visits to Skid Row. “We are excited for millions of Americans to learn more about this important aspect of Sikhism during the Rose Parade.”

In addition to the theme of langar, the float will visually transport spectators back to Punjab.

The Rose Parade will start at 8:00am Pacific Time, Jan. 1, and is “a festival of flowers, music and sports unequaled anywhere else in the world,” the Rose Parade website says, adding, “It’s America’s New Year Celebration, a greeting to the world on the first day of the year, and a salute to the community spirit and love of pageantry that have thrived in Pasadena for more than 100 years.”

The massive parade is organized by the non-profit Tournament of Roses Association, which says it is dedicated to presenting an internationally-recognized New Year’s celebration.

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