Even though I was aware of Yuba City, California, and its agricultural base, I was still struck yesterday by the numerous large and mature orchards that lined the highway on my route to the 34th annual Yuba City Sikh Parade (considered the largest Nagar Kirtan or Sikh religious procession in the United States). Many of these orchards are owned by Sikh Americans who settled in the area since the turn to the twentieth century, and which today still are operated and farmed by Sikh American workers. These orchards that have acted as the economic engine for the Sikh American community for decades.
I joined an estimated 80,000 other people during the celebration of the installation of the Sikh scriptures as the perpetual Guru of the faith (which was proclaimed in 1708 by the tenth and last Guru in human form, Guru Gobind Singh). From then until today, we recognize the Guru Granth Sahib as our spiritual guide.
Almost as old as me, this year’s festivities was my first trip to the Nagar Kirtan in Yuba City, and while I have attended similar events around North America, I appreciated some of the unique aspects of this celebration on a cool and windy Sunday — it seemed well-organized (and at times, it was a well-organized chaos) and that drew visitors, organizations and vendors from across North America and beyond. To see such representation here offered a sense of the pulse of our community as a whole.
It has also been reported that yesterday’s event is expected to generate $6 million for the local economy, and most notably that donations collected from the Nagar Kirtan will go to various charitable causes.
See photos, video, and synopses of the 34th annual Yuba City Sikh Parade at: