The annual Baisakhi celebrations, featuring Kirtan Darbar and Nagar Kirtan, were held with great fervor and enthusiasm by an estimated crowd of 15,000 at the Los Angeles Convention Center April 9.
The event attracted devotees not only from all parts of California, but the entire U.S. as well as Mexico and India. Sikhs around the world celebrate Baisakhi as the day their identity as “Khalsa/Pure Ones” supersedes everything else. Guru Gobind Singh Ji was a visionary, a being of great faith and trust in God, a man of boundless courage, and a champion of the weak and poor, noted a press release. He fought for righteousness so that all people could have the opportunity to live in equality, dignity and grace. Guru Gobind Singh Ji not only believed that everyone should live with dignity and grace, he himself was a shining example of those qualities. He created a cultural revolution that brought together his followers from all backgrounds, social status and walks of life to fight for the peaceful realization of social justice and religious freedom.
With great devotion, the sons and daughters of Guru Gobind Singh Ji came together in a spirited and peaceful celebration of Baisakhi, which also commemorated the 350th birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh Ji, recently celebrated in Patna Sahib, India. The decorations for the Kirtan program featured a lovely backdrop of various photos of the Takhat at Patna Sahib, India, where Guru Gobind Singh Ji was born.
The day began at 3:30 a.m. at the Guru Ram Das Ashram in West Los Angeles, where dozens of Khalsa gathered to listen to Prof. Ranjit Singh recite the “Asa di Var.” Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji was then escorted by motorcycle police in a grand procession, with Khalsa flags flying, all the way to the Los Angeles Convention Center, where Guru Sahib arrived at 7:00 a.m. initiating the Kirtan Darbar.
Spirited children and youth Kirtan presentations were among the day’s highlights. The participating institutes included The Khalsa Care Foundation, Kaur & Singh Academy, Buena Park Punjabi School, Walnut Gurdwara Kirtan Group, Sur Sangam Sangeet of Corona, Nanak Sadan Gurmat Academy, Ujjal Didar Singh Memorial Foundation, Valley Sikh Temple Punjabi School, Sur Shabad Parivaar of Bhai Mardana Institute, Guru Nanak’s Children’s Academy of the Sikh Center of Orange County, Gurdwara Gurbani Darbar of Ventura, Guru Ram Das Ashram Khalsa Youth Group, and the Baba Fared Sangeet Academy. Additionally, Bibiyan Jathas, including Sur Shabad Parivaar and Bibis Kamalpreet Kaur and Balbir Kaur, performed Shabads.
The day’s main Kirtan program included many songs written by, written about or in praise of Guru Gobind Singh and the Khalsa. Twenty-two distinguished Ragis performed Kirtan from gurdwaras in Los Angeles, and other California-based gurdwaras in Orange County, Riverside County, Lancaster, San Jose and Fresno. Dhadhi Jatha Kuljit Singh Dilbar from Namashar, India, also performed at the event. The Kirtan Jethas included Bhai Bhupinderjit Singh of Sikh Temple of Rosemead; Bhai Santok Singh of Valley Sikh Temple; Bhai Hukam Singh of Alhambra Gurdwara; Bhai Surdeep Singh of Buena Park Gurdwara; Bhai Gagandeep Singh of Nanak Sadhan Sikh Temple; Bhai Satpal Singh of Sikh Center of Orange County; Bhai Naiv Singh of NORCO Gurdwara; Bhai Gopal Singh of Guru Nanak Sikh Center; Bhai Jatinder Jot Singh of Lankershim Gurdwara; Bhai Giani Ajit Singh of Hollywood Sikh Temple; the International Institute of Gurmat Studies Jetha; Avtar Singh (Fresno); Bhai Subheg Singh (San Jose); Harlove Singh and Manjeet Singh; Bhai Gurdeep Singh; and Bhai Sucha Singh.
The final five Ragi Jethas comprising of Bhai Raghbir Singh (Walnut Gurdwara), Bhai Jaswant Singh (New Riverside Gurdwara), Bhai Varinder Singh (Khalsa Care Foundation), Bhai Khem Singh (Hesperia Gurdwara) and Bhai Surdeep Singh (nephew of Sant Anoop Singh) all sang together with great devotion. The Guru Ram Das Ashram Kirtan Jetha played the closing Kirtan which included Bhai Gurdas’ Shabad, “Waho Waho Gobind Singh Aape Gur Chela,” as Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji was escorted outdoors for the beginning of the Nagar Kirtan.
The program was emceed by Kirtan-Singh Khalsa, of Guru Ram Das Ashram, along with Hardev Singh Khalsa, Ravinder Singh, Hardalip Singh and Bir Ishwar Singh. Several federal, state and county dignitaries attended and both received and gave presentations at the program. Those who received special awards from the Sikh Community of Southern California included Congresswoman of the 27th District Judy Chu, who attended the program for the 17th year in a row. She spoke poignantly highlighting her work in support of the Sikh community. Congressman Brad Sherman, wearing a turban, also expressed his support and appreciation of the Panth. Field Representative Jacqueline Hamilton from U.S. Congresswoman Karen Bass of 37th District also attended.
"Spirit of Baisakhi Awards" and saropas (prayer shawls) were presented on behalf of the Sikh Community of Southern California to several distinguished individuals and organizations for their examples of leadership. These included Rep. Judy Chu, Rep. Brad Sherman, Rep. Karen Bass (accepted by her Senior Field Representative, Jacqueline Hamilton), Siri Sikdar Sahiba Sardarni Guru Amrit Kaur Khalsa, Amarjit Singh of Vermont Gurdwara for Langar Seva and Nirinjan Kaur, who is a professor of Sikh and Jain Studies at Loyola Marymount University. The managing directors of the Guru Nanak Sikh Center in Buena Park were presented saropas along with Dr. Piara Singh for his lifelong service to the community.
Guru’s Langar was served throughout the day and was prepared at the Hollywood Sikh Temple (Vermont Gurdwara) for the thousands of devotees who attended the program. Many individuals contributed to doing the Langar seva, including Amarjit Singh, who coordinated this seva, and Sarabjit Singh, Bhai Chattar Singh, Har Nam Singh, Manavprem Kaur, Dr. Manjit Singh Khalsa, Tony Singh, Manjit Singh, Bicky Singh and Bhai Kanhaiya Sewa Dal.
Guru Sahib’s float for the Nagar Kirtan was designed by Joginder Singh Sidhu. The Sadh Sangat of the Khalsa Care Foundation did all of the float decorations for the parade and organized the entire procession, which proceeded a couple of miles in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. The many sevadars from the Khalsa Care Foundation that were involved in the organizing of the parade included Gurdip Singh Malik, Joginder Singh Sidhu, Surinder Singh, Sukhi Singh and Sohan Singh Chowdry. There were many sumptuous sweets and snacks served after the parade organized by the Bhai Kanhaiya Sewa Dal.
Hundreds of volunteers are involved for months in making the day special. One of the annual highlights is the special design and decoration of the Darbar Hall by Seva Kaur Khalsa, who once again made the room elegant and festive. A few of the many others involved in the organization, decorations, set-up and breakdown include Dr. Hari Bhajan Singh Khalsa, Jai Pal Singh Khalsa, Hari Kirn Kaur Khalsa, Siri Vias Singh Khalsa, Bibi Manjit Kaur Khalsa, Gurprasad Kaur Khalsa, Simran Sat Sangeet Kaur Khalsa, Dr. Haridass Kaur Khalsa, Kewal Kaur Khalsa, and Siri Dyal Kaur Khalsa.