Nicholson Road Week 39 – Newton, Surrey

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Nicholson Road is part of an ongoing photo project aimed at sharing and celebrating the different communities in Metro Vancouver. Each week Vancouver Is Awesome will be featuring one of the latest, most engaging photos from the project in order to draw your attention a little bit outside of the hyper-focus that we usually have on the city of Vancouver.

Metro Vancouver Is Awesome, and you should get out and explore it!

If you’ve never been to a Vaisakhi Parade/Celebration before, I highly recommend you mark it in your calendar next year.

This past weekend, I ventured out to 128th and 78th in Newton to see Surrey’s Vaisakhi Parade in person. On my way, I thought to myself, “Hey, I haven’t seen so many people walking in Surrey before.” And then I thought, “That’s a bit of a walk, why are so many people parking at Kwantlen?” And after keeping my foot on the brake for 15 minutes, “Oh. Sorry environment, I get it now.” Eventually I found my way through suburbs lined with cars – along both sides of the street, covering driveways and front lawns, everywhere you look, cars cars and more cars – and ditched my macchina in an industrial lot.

What an amazing experience followed! People were EVERYWHERE – walking in the middle of the streets towards the 7km parade route, which itself was packed solid. Attendance estimates are around 150,000 people, which makes the 2011 Surrey Vaisakhi Parade the largest in the world outside of India! As if that’s not cool enough, the celebrations involved all sorts of free food (as part of the harvest festival roots, sharing is a big deal), dancers and entertainment, and so many beautifully colourful outfits. And that wasn’t even including the parade!

For a bit more background on Vaisakhi, it was primarily a new year/harvest festival in Punjab until Guru Gobind Singh created the Khalsa (meaning ‘pure’) in 1699, in an attempt to prevent the present injustices and corruption from occurring in the future. The name Khalsa is given to Sikhs who have been baptised or initiated in an Amrit Sanchar ceremony, and is often marked by the Panj Kakka (5 Ks), which includes ‘Kesh’, keeping uncut hair, ‘Kara’, the steel bangle, and ‘Kirpan’, a sword for defence.

I’ve got a few more colourful shots up on my flickr and there’s tons more interesting information on Vaisakhi out on the interwebs, so if you’ve got a few minutes maybe read up a bit. Learning is Awesome.

More from Nicholson Road can be found HERE.