I have been a fan of the Sikh community since I learned of their generous attitude towards persons in need. One day several years ago, while exploring Vancouver's Chinatown and its environs, I came across a table that had been set up by a group of these people and they were providing hot meals to the city's most unfortunate residents, right at the corner of Main and Hastings. Now I know that many groups offer help on the DTE but the Sikhs were set up on the front line. It literally brought a tear to my eye. Langar (if I understand correctly) is the concept of the community kitchen in temples where a free meal will be served to any visitor regardless of their status or religion or other. It emphasizes the equality of all who share the meal together. A beautiful practice! And this attitude is carried over into the rest of the lives of the Sikhs.
The thousands present were entertained by music at various stages along the street.
Many groups and vendors were set up including the Sikh Motorcycle Club who were helping young men to don the turban!
And in harmony with the principle of Langar, there was an abundance of food. My partner and I gladly tried a few of the offerings. We tried a mild but tasty Curry with Rice. It was a vegetarian dish with what I would call dumplings made of garbonzo flour.
Of course, there was Pakora. These were very good especially considering that this food was being produced and distributed (by volunteers) in enormous quantity!
And finally, we tried a simple dessert of rice, sweetened and with raisins and cardamom. Very nice! Thank you to our generous hosts! Now I have to admit that I am not a crowd person and it was not too long before, no matter how well behaved this large group, I started to feel the need for space! We had arrived at the south east corner of festivities and learned the the parade itself was probably still a couple of hours away! So I am sad to say, we did not see the parade. Still we were so impressed by the scale and good will of the celebration, that I think we will try again next year to actually view the parade!
BTW, congratulations to brothers Sarjit and Baljit Singh Sabharwal who have made it their quest to make the celebration greener by promoting serving dishes of paper or sugar cane based which will biodegrade in a short period of time!
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