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Melbourne CBD became a bastion of Sikh culture on Saturday as it celebrated Vaisakhi with thousands gathering to participate in the annual Sikh Parade, a procession, known as the Nagar Kirtan.
Up to 20,000 people are believed to have attended this year’s event, which took place on the streets of Melbourne starting from Parliament Gardens to Flagstaff Gardens.
The celebratory event was organised by the Victorian Sikh Gurdwaras Council (VSGC).
Sikh Gurdwaras and organisations Cross Victoria participated in this Nagar Kirtan event.
In a media statement, Gurdeep Singh Matharoo, VSGC President said, “Vaisakhi is an exciting festival for all Sikhs and an opportunity to renew our commitment to Sikhism.”
“VSGC will make efforts to celebrate this event every year. We also acknowledge the Victorian Multicultural Commission for their financial support for the event.”
Vaisakhi is the most important Sikh festival and is celebrated by millions of Sikhs across the globe.
The festival marks the day in 1699 when the 10th Guru of Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh, founded the Sikh community known as the Khalsa. It also marks the onset of the harvest season and the Sikh New Year.
Nagar Kirtan is also a celebration of Sikh tradition, heritage and culture, and this event often showcases Shabad kirtan (spiritual music), martial arts, langar (free food) and children’s activities.
As the tradition goes, the Nagar Kirtan in Melbourne was led by the Panj Pyaras (the five beloved ones) and followed by the holy scripture of the Sikhs (Guru Granth Sahib) placed on a golden palanquin, decorated with flowers.
The procession was marked by rendering of shabad kirtan (holy hymns) by various groups of men, women and children.
The celebrations featured a number of guests, including Julian Hill MP, Federal Member of Bruce, Neil Angus, State Member of Forest Hill and Anne Randall, Director of Good Friday Appeal at Royal Children’s Hospital.
This year, Royal Children Hospital received $20,000 – money raised by Victoria’s Sikh community at the event.