Letters to the Editor

Vaisakhi parade debated

Readers offer their opinion on last weekend’s Vaisakhi parade, which drew huge crowds, and some political controversy. - BOAZ JOSEPH  / THE LEADER
Readers offer their opinion on last weekend’s Vaisakhi parade, which drew huge crowds, and some political controversy.
— image credit: BOAZ JOSEPH / THE LEADER

I don’t see the wisdom in politicians boycotting the Vaisaki parade.

I agree with MLA Harry Bains that the politicians should attend to celebrate the ancient harvest festival with the vast majority of the Sikh people in attendance who are peaceful.

The politicians should not be held hostage by the actions of a minority.

I also feel that in a democracy where there is free speech, free thought, and freedom of the press people have a right to believe in what they want and express that as long as it is within the law.

I feel the tents that display the Sikh massacres are not controversial.

The pictures of the Sikh bodyguards who assassinated Indira Gandhi due to her authorizing an attack on the Golden Temple may be controversial.

Further, even though

Amar Sangha



Re: (MLA) Falcon shuns Vaisakhi parade photos.

Yes, there are politics and pictures involved. We wonder about it, wish we didn’t have to deal with it, because it’s not about politics, it’s about community. We attend the nagar kirtan for the togetherness, the sense of community and the celebration of both religious and cultural aspects of our lives.

I have two friends who will for the first time put up a tent and offer food to others. Both of them are born and raised in Canada and are doing this volunteer work to serve the community. This volunteerism is a central concept of Sikhism, called sewa. Early in the morning, they will put up a tent, family members will cook a variety of foods, and along with their two young girls, who are both under five years of age, they will spend a day serving friends and strangers.

Another group of young Sikhs, have gathered a force of volunteers, to ensure there is no garbage left behind.

Then there are those who will entertain the masses, provide information on everything from health issues to violence against women, to those who will run into the street to offer a parade participant a drink of much needed water or chai.

Take a close look around at Vaisakhi and you’ll see others – some smiling, some deep in prayer, some trying to meet up with family members – but all participating in a celebration that is part of their heritage.

They, are the people behind Vaisakhi. And although there will be those out to make a political statement, by my estimation, most are like I was as a child – excited by the colours, smells and sounds of community togetherness.

Bhinder Sajan

Move parade to fairgrounds

For many years my neighbours and I have tolerated the annual Vaisakhi parade, even though our neighbourhood is inundated with people from not only outside our area but outside of Surrey, this year even people from Washington, Oregon and Alberta.

This year was over the top, we could not get out of our driveway as both 73 Avenue and 130 Street were blocked by traffic. We did complain to the RCMP but they were pressed to the maximum and could not help.

I think the parade is a great thing and I am a staunch believer in freedom of expression and faith. This parade should be moved to the Cloverdale Fairgrounds, where there is ample parking, toilet facilities and viewing area for a parade.

The organizers claim that there is no terrorist affiliation. Well, there was a small plane flying around with a banner stating Sikhs want freedom and Khalistan. These people are obviously confused. They live in Canada and are free; Khalistan is no longer an issue with Sikhs in India. It was gratifying that our mayor, Dianne Watts, and a local politician; Ms. Priddy, distanced themselves from the main area, yet participated with the general public.

Canada is a country of freedom of expression but not at the expense of other groups of people. It is not fair that we are subjugated to this year after year. I do not think it would be fair to the Sikh community to ban the parade, but it simply has grown too big to be held in a residential area.


Bruce Wyder

Politicians not missed

The Vaisakhi parade in Surrey was a huge success yesterday, despite all the negative news headlines by the media trying to discourage people from attending the parade.

But the community attended the parade even in

I was very impressed to see thousands of volunteers working hard to help organize the parade and providing food and drinks to the crowd. Even younger kids were enjoying the parade and participating in many cultural and religious activities. As far as the politicians are concerned, the public participating in parade didn’t miss them at all, and in fact don’t want to see them making formal speeches in this type of religious and cultural event.

Maybe the organizers in future won’t invite politicians for the parade or allow them to make speeches.

I’d like to congratulate thousands of volunteers and organizers for making this Vaisakhi parade a huge success. Keep up the good work in future years.

Kanwaljit Singh Gill

Refuse permit

I’m happy to see the Sikh communities enjoying Vaisakhi celebrations, but the alarming display of political assassins being re-branded as “martyrs” turned a multicultural celebration into a public embrace of murderers and political warfare.

By including these displays after having promised not to, they demonstrate a repudiation of the Canadian values that they promised to embrace as immigrants to Canada.

Accepting Canada means leaving behind the violent and regional politics of the past, for a new homeland.

Whether it’s the International Sikh Youth Federation celebrating political assassins, Tamils exporting money to support murder by suicide, Hezbollah waving flags in our streets, Islamists calling for the implementation of sharia or Orthodox Jews and polygamists calling for special dispensation based on their religion, all run contrary to the norms and laws of the land.

The organizers of Vaisakhi abandoned their responsibilities and deceived both their local politicians and fellow citizens.

Based on last year’s parade, Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts wisely made inquiries to the parade organizers and was given assurances that such displays would not be included.

I trust that she and her fellow councillors will forego negotiations and simply refuse to issue a permit for the event next year.

Randy O’Donnell


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