Hundreds of thousands expected to celebrate Vaisakhi at Vancouver parade

Hundreds of thousands are expected to take to the streets of South Vancouver on Saturday to celebrate Vaisakhi with a day full of music, colourful floats, and food. 

Vaisakhi marks the first harvest and the coming of a new year, according to the Vancouver Khalsa Diwan Society, which organizes the parade.

For Sikhs, it also marks the creation of the order of the Khalsa in 1699 — a defining moment in Sikh history which gave the Sikh faith its final form.

The day will begin with speeches at the Khalsa Diwan Temple on Ross Street at 9 a.m. PT with the parade departing the temple at 11 a.m PT. 

Organizers estimated around 300,000 people attended last year’s Vaisakhi parade in Vancouver — the first after a three-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

A white man wearing an orange head covering talks to a Sikh man with thousands of people behind him.
B.C Premier David Eby attended the 2023 Vancouver Vaisakhi parade and festival. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

With sunny weather expected, parade marshal Jag Sanghera said the organization is expecting a bigger turnout this year. 

“We invite everybody to participate,” he said Friday on CBC’s The Early Edition

Vaisakhi is marked by colourful processions, as well as the practice of serving free meals to the community in acts of seva and langar, two significant aspects of the Sikh religion. 

People are seen at the front of a queue to get food from a tent at a Sikh parade.
Giving out food to the community is an intrinsic part of the Vaisakhi festival, and honours the Sikh traditions of seva and langar. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The parade will take place in the historic Punjabi Market district in South Vancouver from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

Road closures in the area will be in effect from 10 a.m. PT to 6 p.m. PT on the following roads: 

  • Main Street from E. 49th Avenue to SE Marine Drive. 
  • Fraser Street from E. 41st Avenue to SE Marine Drive. 
  • Westbound SE Marine Drive from Knight Street to Main Street. 
  • E. 57th Avenue from Knight Street to Ontario Street.

TransLink says buses will also be rerouted through the area on Saturday.

A long Translink bus is pictured colorfully decorated on the outside with painted flowers and plants.
This decorated TransLink bus, designed by artist Jag Nagra, will take part in both the Vancouver and Surrey Vaisakhi festivities. (Translink)

A larger Vaisakhi parade, one that organizers have previously called the biggest in the world, will take place in Surrey on April 20. 


Posted in CBC