RICHMOND HILL, NY (TIP): Sikhs have a tradition of taking out a parade which they call Nagar Kirtan to celebrate the birth anniversaries of their masters, and their creation in 1699, by the Tenth Master Guru Gobind Singh, which they celebrate as Sikh Day Parade. The parade is not only the showcase of the community’s well fabricated structure, it is the Sikh way to spread the message of their Gurus (Masters). The Richmond Hill Parade to celebrate the birth anniversary of the First Master of the Sikhs, Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji, was started by Gurdwara Makhan Shah Lobana in 2001. A bright, shining, cherubic Sun and a balmy weather provided a fitting setting to the 13th Guru Nanak Day Parade in Richmond Hill on November 9. The weather god certainly pleased around 10,000 Sikh devotees who came out to join the parade to mark the 544th birth anniversary of their First Master, Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji.
The annual Guru Nanak Day Parade organized by Gurdwara Baba Makhan Shah Lobana, with cooperation from all New York gurdwaras and Sikh institutions and organizations, started from Gurdwara Baba Makhan Shah Lobana, located on 114 Street and 101 Avenue in Richmond Hill. Having taken a turn to Liberty Avenue on 111 Street, it took a left turn on 123 Street to Atlantic Avenue. On 118 Street on Atlantic Avenue, it took a left turn to Gurdwara Sikh Cultural Society where the Parade was received by the management of the Sikh Cultural Society at a brief halt. This was done to let the Gurdwara Sikh Cultural Society management pay their obeisance to Shri Guru Granth Sahib, the Holy Scripture of the Sikhs that is regarded as the Living Master. The Parade then moved on to 101 Avenue from where it took a turn towards 114 Street, where finally it terminated. That was for the route of the parade. The Living Guru, Shri Guru Granth Sahib, was taken out on an ornately decorated float at the head of the parade that was led by the Panj Piaras-the Five Beloveds. It was a wonderful sight to watch the priests in attendance of the Holy Scripture while the bards sang the holy hymns. Service (Seva) and langar (community kitchen) are amongst the major characteristics of the Sikh community life. Guru Nanak Dev enjoined upon his followers to share food with others.
That is why in Sikh shrines, one always gets food. Also, Guru Nanak who believed in equality of all, enjoined upon his followers to sit together in the community kitchen to take food. That is why, all along the route of the Parade, food and beverages were served at dozens of points in the 5 mile stretch of the Parade route. Extremely generous and hospitable, the Sikh community has no equal when it comes to service and hospitality. The Parade is just a prelude to celebration that marks Guru Nanak’s birth anniversary. The real celebration will take place on the Master’s birth anniversary on November 17 in all Sikh shrines. The community gathers in the Gurdwaras, which organize special programs, to listen to the praises of the Lord. Each Gurdwara tries to get the best bards and preachers from India and elsewhere. There is a special feast for all in the Gurdwaras. At the stroke of the midnight, the Master is offered floral greetings, followed by exchange of greetings amongst the congregation. The Master appears like light and all dark is dispelled. Take a trip to a Sikh shrine to see for yourself how much reverence the Sikh community has for their Master and how much love they have for fellow human beings. After all, their Master had told them more than five hundred years ago to “Consider the human race as one”. The local police did a good job of policing and received praise for being helpful and cooperative in organizing the Parade. Walki