Gurdwara Western Singh Sabha Temple president Kishan Singh Parmar welcomes the community to join the congregation for the annual Vaisakhi celebrations that will take place Friday, April 24 through Sunday, April 26.
The temple is located at 3015 Pine Street and is a traditional temple where members sit on the floor both for worship and at the meals provided in the church hall.
Parmar says Vaisakhi is being held a little later than usual at his temple this year because many of the congregation members are away in India for a wedding.
Vaisakhi is the festival Sikhs hold to celebrate the collective birthday of the Khalsa Brotherhood, which was created by Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th Sikh Guru in 1699. Vaisakhi 2015 officially falls on Tuesday, April 14 but various temples celebrate on different dates.
The celebration includes the continuous reading of the Sikh holy book Guru Granth Sahib, a process which takes all three days of the celebration with members taking turns reading for one to three hours depending on their time and stamina.
Guru Granth Sahib is a collection of teachings and writings by Guru Nanak and other Gurus as well as Sikh, Hindu and Muslim saints.
Periodically the reader will fan the air over the book with a ceremonial whisk, which Parmar says keeps the air fresh around the reader and is a sign of respect paid to any king, and the holy book is the Sikh’s living God, king of kings.
The reading begins Friday and wraps up Sunday morning with prayers in the worship hall and a community luncheon. Youth members of the temple’s harmonium and tabla study group will join the adults in playing various religious musical songs during the ceremony.
The flag raising ceremony will start at 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 25.
In this ceremony the flag pole is lowered, and the old flag and protective cloth wrapping around the pole is removed.
The flag pole is then washed with milk, then water, then dried with towels and a new wrapping cloth wrapping is put around the pole an the new flag is installed and raised.
The flag of the Sikh faith is orange with a blue symbol.
Representatives of the original Five Beloved Ones or Panj Pyare, who were baptized by the 10th Guru, in a unique ceremony called pahul participate in the flag raising ceremony along with musicians and various congregation members who prepare the flag and pole.
During the entire three days of Vaisakhi, Parmar says food is also available to visitors and worshippers but the Sunday ceremonies and luncheon are special ones to which the community is invited and special guests will also be invited. He says
Throughout the weekend people come to worship, listen to the reading, and help out with chores such as washing floors, cooking and cleaning utensils.
In fact he says anyone is welcome to come to the temple to worship and enjoy food with them during the regular Sunday services.
Gurdwara Western Singh Sabha Temple members also host a Sikh radio station, SikhNet on Channel 60, which Parmar says is strictly for religious messages.
No politics or business messages are permitted on the channel, Parmar says.
For the most part, he says the radio plays cds with religious music and messages but occasionally local members will record a religious message in their small studio which will be aired on the station.