Thousands of people came from around the Tri-state area and beyond to participate in and watch the colorful Sikh Day Parade April 27, which began at Madison Ave. and East 38th Street, in New York City.
Organized by the Sikh Cultural Society Inc. Gurdwara in Richmond Hill Queens, the event is a joint effort of numerous gurdwaras and Sikh organizations in New Jersey and New York, eager to spread awareness about their community, particularly after 9/11.
“More than 90,000 plus people were there at this year’s parade,” Gurdev Singh Kang, chief coordinator of the parade for the 8th year, told Desi Talk. Langar or free food was served to at least 20,000 people, Kang estimated with some ten stalls lining 26th Street where the parade ended.
Among the VIPs at the parade was Mayor Bill de Blasio who addressed the crowd.
This was the 32nd Sikh Day Parade, Kang said, adding that it had become an annual tradition initiated after 1984, when Indian forces were sent into the Amritsar Golden Temple, the holiest site of Sikhs the world over.
In Manhattan, the parade included 9 floats, 4 Gatka (Sikh martial arts) teams, and groups singing and dancing gathered to walk down Madison Ave. Participating gurdwaras and sangats came with their banners, and many attendees were brought on free buses to the site of the parade. An NYPD band also walked in the parade.
“Honored to march in yesterday’s #SikhDayParade in Manhattan. What a great day celebrating with the community!” tweeted New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal April 28, with a photos of the parade including one where he is posing with members of the Sikh Officers Association of NYPD.
Sikh parades are held in numerous cities across the U.S., as well as in Canada, among them, the largest in Vancouver, British Columbia, and in Toronto, Ontario.
The Parade usually marks Vaisakhi or the onset of Spring and harvest season. “It was a wonderful, successful parade. This is our Vaisakhi Khalsa parade. We want people to know who the Sikhs are and don’t want to be mixed up with others- after 9/11,” Kang said. “We believe in interfaith living and respecting all faiths, and human rights,” he added. Kang said who was appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio to the City Commission of Human Rights May 25, 2017.