Yuba City Sikh Parade
Nagar Kirtan, Yuba City, 2010. Photo courtesy of Jasbir Singh Kang.
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.
Yuba City’s first nagar kirtan (a major Sikh holiday), Sunday, November 9, 1980. Filmed by Baldev Chima.