Yuba City hosts one of the largest South Asian festivals outside of the Indian subcontinent. The Sikh Parade (or Nagar Kirtan) festival involves a weekend of activities that celebrate the installation of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (Sikh holy scriptures) as the Living Guru. Festivities begin with a continuous reading of the entire scripture over the course of the weekend. The weekend culminates in a large parade on Sunday morning when a float supporting the Sri Guru Granth Sahib is followed by a procession of floats winding through Yuba City on a 4.5 mile route. Each year Sikh families cook and donate an astounding amount of free food and beverages to give to everyone who attends the event. At the Yuba City festival alone, members of the Sikh community give away on a voluntary basis between 200,000 and 250,000 free meals to strangers each year. After attending a Sikh parade in Canada, Didar Singh Bains was inspired to create a Sikh parade in his hometown of Yuba City, and he worked tirelessly to promote this event. The whole Sikh American community in Yuba City helped make this event successful by securing the necessary approvals from the city government, organize the complex logistics, and cooking and donating massive quantities of food for everyone who attends the festival. The Sikh Parade was inaugurated in 1980 and has now grown to attract nearly 100,000 people each year from across the US and as far away as Canada, England, and India.
Schedule of events (published in the Appeal Democrat in 2015)
8 a.m. — The 2015 Sikh Festival starts with a worship service and kirtan (yogic chanting) at the Sikh Temple.
8 p.m. — Diwali (festival of light) fireworks at the Sikh Temple.
9 a.m. — The raising of the Nishan Sahib, the Sikh flag, followed by morning worship and kirtan.
1 p.m. — A seminar, open to the public and in English, at the Sikh Temple to discuss the Sikh religion and its teachings, as well as a discussion about the future of Sikhism in India.
2 p.m. — Open house, tour of the temple complex and grounds.
6 p.m.-midnight — A Rain sabaee kirtan worship service. Rain sabaee means “night so beautiful.”
All day — A bazaar with shopping stalls and sellers of hard-to-find Sikh clothing, articles of faith, books and a variety of other items such as dry goods, blankets and carpets.
11 a.m.— Guru Gadee Nagar Kirtan 36th annual Sikh Parade. A float bearing the Guru Granth Sahib (the Sikh holy scripture) is followed by a procession of floats and devotees winding through the streets of Yuba City along a 4.5-mile loop.
“Sikh Festival Bringing a Parade of Activity,” Appeal Democrat, October 26, 2015, http://www.appeal-democrat.com/news/sikh-festival-bringing-a-parade-of-activity/article_9eca6e30-7c71-11e5-a74c-77a4a2c2ec4d.html
Hari Singh Everest Family Collection
Jasbir Singh Kang Family Collection