For Immediate Release
March 17, 2008
On April 6, 2008, the Sikh community of Southern California will celebrate the 309th Anniversary of Baisakhi at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Hosted by Sikh Dharma of Southern California and the Lankershim Gurdwara, Baisakhi 2008 will celebrate “The Living Spirit of Guru”. Held at the Los Angeles Convention Center, 1201 S. Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, CA, the festivities begin at 7:30 a.m. and conclude at 5:00 p.m. The program will include Kirtan (spiritual music) from 7:30 a.m. to Noon, with performances from Kirtan Jethas from many southern California Sikh Gurdwara, and ragis, as well as various children’s Kirtan groups. A colorful parade (Nagar Kirtan) from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. will conclude the day’s events.
As many as 15,000 devotees are expected to attend the day’s festivities, which have been celebrated annually in Southern California for over 25 years. The Nagar Kirtan (parade) has been coordinated by the Southern California Gurdwaras for the last ten years.
This year’s program will be attended by officials from all levels of government – city, state and nationwide. Expected to attend this year are: U.S. Congressman Brad Sherman; Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa; Los Angeles County Sheriff Leroy (Lee) Baca; Los California State Board of Equalization Chair Judy Chu; California State Assembly Member Mike Eng. and Los Angeles City Councilman Bernard C. Parks.
This year’s special Kirtan performer will be Snatam Kaur Khalsa (preliminary Grammy-award nominee for New Age Music), who will be featured in the day’s program around Noon.
A press conference will also take place between 1:00 – 2:00 p.m., dedicated to increasing public awareness of California Sikh history and Sikh identity.
Included this year in the programs will be a special award ceremony, the “Mai Bhago Spirit of Baisakhi Awards”. This awards ceremony will be honoring Sikh women who have dedicated themselves to spreading the words of the Sikh Gurus and educating the world about Sikh identity. Honorees this year are: Dr. Harjot Kaur Singh, Sikh Canadian film producer; Inni Kaur Dhingra, VP of Spectrum Communications and a member of the editorial board of Nishaan Magazine; Penny Yogiraj Sandhu, President and CEO of JusPunjabi 24 Hour Punjabi Channel; Valarie Kaur, Sikh American film director and writer; and Shanti Kaur Khalsa, Sikh writer and Chairwoman of the International Khalsa Council
In the Nagar Kirtan (parade) this year will be floats from many gurdwaras. Special designs have been created in collaboration with Joginder Singh Siddu in which the floats highlight special Sikh themes, lifestyles and values. The parade will begin at 3:00 p.m. and is expected to conclude around 5:00 p.m. This year’s parade route will start from the Los Angeles Convention Center – North on Figueroa, East on 11th, North on Grand Avenue, West on 7th Street, South on Flower, West on 11th Street, South on Figueroa – to end back at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Refreshments and treats will be served all along the parade route.
In addition to the Kirtan Program and Parade, there will be other activities for attendees. Delicious vegetarian Langar (free food) will be served all day long. A bustling Baisakhi Bazaar offering goods and services, and activities for children will be available all day long. This year, a Health Fair, with six doctors will also be available to participants from 10:00 am to 2:00 p.m.
The Baisakhi celebration commemorates the day in 1699 when Guru Gobind Singh created the Order of the Khalsa – bestowing the form, appearance, lifestyle and disciplined Sikh way of life. Baisakhi also commemorates the first Spring Harvest, which coincides closely with the Sikh New Year.