Nathan Phillips Square was brimming with colorful outfits Sunday as the Sikh community gathered to celebrate Khalsa Day.
Manjh Parmar, secretary of the Sikh new year celebration, said community members hold their main event at a temple and converge on Nathan Phillips to share their values with others.
“We are all part of society. Our main tenants are sharing, honest living and remembering God,” Parmar said.
There were worries that the celebration would be small as it was the first since COVID hit the city two years ago. But thousands of people turned out.
“We have buses coming in from all over. The day is going well, and it is a beautiful day. God has been good to us,” Parmar said.
Khalsa Day marks the founding of the Sikh Order in 1699.
“Toronto is home to a large and diverse Sikh community, and today we recognize the contributions they make to our city,” said Mayor John Tory.
Betty Calabuese, said she came to the celebration from Scarborough to enjoy a “different cultural experience.
“It’s fun because people have approached us and tell us about the celebration,” Calabuese said, while having a traditional Sikh lunch, which was free for all at food tents.
There were also information booths for blood donation, autism, drug awareness, and one for what is a Sikh.
“This is so special. Everybody getting along. It makes me happy, and I love learning about a new culture,” said Sandy Seymore.
One large group that stood out was the Sikh Motorcycle Club of Ontario, with their turbans and biker jackets.
“We use motorcycles as a conversation starter,” Jagdeep Singh said, adding it has been four years since the law permitted Sikhs to ride without a helmet.
The group uses the club to raise money for Diabetes Canada as well as Renos for Heroes, a veteran support organization.
“If a Canadian veteran comes home, and they lost a leg or an eye, we make sure they get the renovations for their home that they need,” Singh said.
The Khalsa Day celebration has grown from 2,000 people since 1978 to become one of the city’s largest events.
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