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Local Gurudwara hosts a celebration of the Sikh religion, community and service

"it's a healing experience for everyone"
Posted at 11:57 PM, Apr 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-04 02:57:55-04

April is Sikh Heritage month, and Bakersfield joined in on the celebrations. The Sikh community in our city hosted an event to share their culture with our neighbors. There was food, a parade, prayers, and vibrance as people came together for this special time of year.

The event was to celebrate the birth of Sikhism, and the New Year in Sikh culture around the Indian harvest festival, Vaisakhi.

“We’re all the same, regardless of what you look like, regardless of where you come from. And that’s what our faith is based on,” said Raji Brar with the Bakersfield Sikh Women’s Association, speaking about the religion.

Thousands gathered to pray and honor the cultures and traditions of the Sikh community, and share that with the world, at the nagar-kirtan at the Gurudwara.

“It makes you feel like we accomplish something, we are spreading this to the whole community, so that is great,” said Jagpreet Basra, with the Gurudwara Guru Angad Darbar.

The event started on Friday evening, went through Saturday, and culminated on Sunday with prayers and a parade around the Gurudwara. A big focus of the event was “Seva,” which means service.

“We’re all here to serve each other,” Brar adds.

Satnam Manku is a local soccer coach for a youth team. He brought his players to help keep the area clean, and says he hopes this will help teach these kids important values.

“A good human being, a good citizen, a hard worker, how do we connect to your community, the Bakersfield community,” Manku said.

Another way of giving back was through giving free food to every guest. People enjoyed traditional foods, from sweet to savory, and there was something for everyone. All of this was while teaching and spreading awareness about the culture.

One form of service was at Lakhwinder Singh’s stall, by tying “dastar,” which is a form of turban that Sikh men wear and makes them easy to identify as well. “When you see a Sikh with a Dastar, the point is he is there to help you, to protect and to serve,” said Brar.

But, this event celebrating religion, community and service was on pause for two years because of the pandemic. That’s why attendees say that coming out here now and being in this environment makes them feel at home.

“This is a community that’s tight knit. And of course, the pandemic really took a toll on us all, so this is really, this is a healing experience for everyone,” said Himmut Chadha, a volunteer with the Jakara Movement.

Attendees say these events don’t just help the Sikh community gather, but also teach our neighbors what the religion is all about.

“It’s so important to have events like this so people don’t fear us, and they understand that we are here from love, and we’re here to serve,” said Brar.