Last Sunday was Yuba City, California’s 32nd annual Sikh Parade, a nagar kirtan (religious procession) to celebrate the birth of Guru Nanak (the founder of Sikhism) in 1469. It rained during last year’s procession, and rained on Satruday, so there was some concern that it would do so again during the procession this year. However, the weather held on Sunday, and the only thing that fell from the sky were rose petals from a helicopter overhead:
None compares in size or scope to the annual Sikh Parade in Yuba City, they said of the event that has attracted between 65,000 and 85,000 spectators and participants in recent years.
On Sunday, as small children and young men offered freshly prepared Indian food, cold drinks and hot chai to visitors approaching along the parade route, Avtar Singh, a member of the Sikh Motorcycle Club of British Columbia, grinned broadly, taking it all in.
“The rain has cleaned everything,” he said, grinning from his place in the slow-moving procession on Tierra Buena Road. “And now, it’s perfect.”
Some of my family had the opportunity to perform some seva (service) for the nagar kirtan, by sweeping the road ahead of the procession, or singing hymns on one of the floats. We also enjoyed the vast amounts of food and tea that was being distributed. The procession seemed quite organized – there was a shuttle service running, and the restroom areas were well-maintained and orderly.