VICTORIA -On behalf of B.C.’s New Democrats, I’d like to wish a Happy Vaisakhi to Sikhs and Hindus in B.C. and around the world. A time for celebrating the values of tolerance, equality and generosity, Vaisakhi has always been one of my favorite celebrations.
This year’s Vaisakhi comes at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose a great threat to the health of people in British Columbia and around the world. People in B.C. are being asked to stay home as much as they can to help slow the spread of COVID-19. This means this year’s Vaisakhi will be one unlike any other.Across the province and across the world, health officials, governments, and Gurdwaras are asking people to celebrate Vaisakhi at home, gathering only with those who already live in their immediate household.
Surrey is the site of one of the largest Vaisakhi parades in North America. Most years, hundreds of thousands of people pour into Surrey’s streets to celebrate in community with one another. This March, organizers of Surrey’s Vaisakhi parade made the praiseworthy decision to postpone the event, because of the current public health risk. While I regret that we cannot celebrate this year together, the spirit of Vaisakhi is more present than ever every time we care for one another.
B.C’s Sikhs are known for giving back, and in the past weeks I have seen incredible examples of this generosity across Surrey, and across the province. As the B.C. government works to make sure British Columbians have the protections and economic support they need to stay safe and stay home during the COVID-19 pandemic, Sikhs in our communities have stood alongside us, working tirelessly to make sure all in our communities are cared for.
In my riding of Surrey-Green Timbers, Gurdwara Sahib Dasmesh Darbar is working tirelessly to provide meals for those in need. Working together from a distance, they are providing meals for people of any background to pick up, and are also delivering them to those who need them.
Down the road, Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara is doing something similar, and both groups are continuously looking for new ways to support the community during these difficult times.
And this generosity extends beyond B.C. Across Canada Sikhs are stepping up through initiatives like the Canadian Blood Services and Sikh Nation Blood Drive, leading by example by staying home, and caring for others in the ways they are able.
In spite of the need for us to distance ourselves from one another, there are a number of things we can do to celebrate Vaisakhi this year.
First and foremost, we can serve our community and protect our loved ones by staying home, in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. But just because we are celebrating from home does not mean we cannot be connected.
This Vaisakhi we can help our elders navigate the online world in order to connect with them from a distance using the internet. We can donate to our Gurdwaras and community organizations to support their work to help those in need. We can follow #VirtualVaisakhi, an online campaign raising support for organizations helping vulnerable people affected by COVID-19. And we can check in with one another, virtually, to mark the occasion together, even though we are apart.
Thank you to everyone in B.C.’s South Asian community for what you are doing, it is making a difference. While we are celebrating Vaisakhi from apart this year, our community is more connected than ever before.
Wishing you a joyful Vaisakhi and a prosperous year ahead. Vaisakhi Diyan Lakh Lakh Vadhaiyan!
Rachna Singh is the MLA for Surrey-Green Timbers