Some 15,000 people, mainly from California, and also from across the United States and abroad, joined the 37th Baisakhi celebrations in Los Angeles, California on April 12 sponsored jointly by 20 gurdwaras in Southern California area.
This year's program, that commemorated the 310th anniversary of Baisakhi, was held at the Los Angeles convention Center. The theme was Jin Prem Kiyo, Tinhee Prabh Payo (Those who know love, know God).
Rated as the largest Baisakhi event in the United States, the celebration was coordinated by Sikh Dharma of Southern California, Guru Ram Das Ashram of LA and the Lankershim Sikh Temple of LA, and all the sponsoring gurdwaras
put in their efforts.
The Los Angeles celebration was launched with the guiding hand of the late Siri Singh Sahib Bhai Sahib Har Bhajan Singh Khalsa Yogi Ji, affectionately known as Yogi Har Bhajan Singh, of the Sikh Dharma International of Western Hemisphere.
This year's festivities began with the presentation of Puran Asa De Vaar at Guru Ram Das Ashram, by Hazoori Ragi Darbar Sahib Bhai Nirmal Singh Khalsa and jatha, who were recently honoured with Padma Shri award by the
government of India.
The West Hall of the Convention Centre was decorated and converted into a beautiful gurdwara and Kirtan Darbar venue. During a 10-hour kirtan singing program, the venue was filled with the vibration of the Gurubani commencing with the sweet sounds of the children's jathas, continuing with more than 20 local ragi jathas, and culminating in a powerful and uplifting finale of five jathas combined under the direction of Master Ragi, Professor Ranjit Singh of the Mardana Academy of Classical Indian Music.
In between, the masterful sounds of Bhai Nirmal Singh and jatha filled the hall. At the celebration, he and his group was honoured with of Spirit of Baisakhi Award and it was presented by Bhai Sahiba Bibi Inderjit Kaur Khalsa, wife of Harbhajan Singh Yogiji, in recognition of their lifetime accomplishment and inspiration through shabd gurbani kirtan. Harbinder Singh of Great Britain, founder and director of the Maharaja Duleep Singh Trust and the Anglo Sikh Heritage Trust, was also presented the award for his work in bringing public awareness and rescue of many of the Sikh artifacts in British museums from the era of British rule of India.
Sardarni Guru Amrit Kaur Khalsa, the Sardarni Sikhdarbar Sahiba of Sikh Dharma International, spoke on the theme of love and said examples of 'Those who know love, know God' are available throughout the Sikh lineage, beginning with Guru Nanak Dev's articulation on social equality to the forging of the Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh, in an unparalleled act where master and disciple became one. It is this quality and caliber of love which is realised in one of the three guiding principles of Sikhism, selfless service to all. Others who spoke on theme included Ruth Brody Sharon, an interfaith filmmaker and activist.
A Nagar Kirtan parade consisted of 12 floats, with the float carrying the Guru Granth Sahib elaborately decorated, showing the Sikh community's great love and affection for their Guru. The parade took two hours to cover a two-mile route in the heart of downtown Los Angeles.