It has been 317 years since the Path of the Khalsa/ Panth Khalsa was established in 1699 by their spiritual father Guru Gobind Singh Ji, and today Sikhs around the world still continue to celebrate Baisakhi as the day their identity as Khalsa/Pure Ones supersedes all else. Guru Gobind Singh Ji was a visionary, a being of great faith and trust in God, a man of boundless energy and courage, and a champion of the weak and poor. He fought for righteousness so that all people could have the opportunity to live in equality, dignity and grace. Guru Gobind Singh not only believed that everyone should live with dignity and grace, he was a shining example of those qualities. He created a cultural revolution that brought together his followers from all backgrounds, social status and walks of life to fight for the peaceful realization of social justice and religious freedom.
With great happiness and devotion, todays sons and daughters of Guru Gobind Singh Ji came together in a most beautiful, spirited, peaceful and fantastic celebration of Baisakhi at the Los Angeles Convention Center on April 10th, 2016.
Thousands and thousands of disciples poured into the Kirtan Darbar hall to listen to amazingly devotional, melodious and spirited Kirtan throughout the day. Those present could really feel the presence of Guru Gobind Singhs spirit as all faces were filled with light, bright shining eyes and beaming boundless smiles.The day began, bright and early, at Guru Ram Das Ashram in West Los Angeles, where dozens of Khalsa gathered to listen to the Cherdi Kala Jetha recite the Asa di Var. The Chardi Kala Jetha consists of graduates from the Miri Piri Academy in Amritsar, led by Sada Sat Simran Singh ji. Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji was then escorted by motorcycle police in a Grand Procession, with Khalsa flags flying, all the way to the Los Angeles Convention Center, where Guru Sahib arrived at 7:00 am to begin the Kirtan Darbar. The day began with Kirtan performed by Bhai Daljit Singh, Apple Valley Gurdwara; Bhai Gagandeep Singh of Nanak Sadan Gurdwara- North Hills; and Bhai Jatinder Singh Jot of the Lankershim Gurdwara.
One of the highlights of the day was the children and youth Kirtan presentations which were both high-spirited and exquisitely performed. Ujjal Didar Singh Memorial Foundation, Valley Sikh Temple Punjabi School, Sur Shabad Parivaar of Bhai Mardana Institute, Guru Nanaks Childrens Academy of the Sikh Center of Orange County, Gurdwara Gurbani Darbar of Ventura, Guru Ram Das Ashram Khalsa Youth Group and the Baba Fared Sangeet Academy all participated. Additional Bibiyan Jathas performed Shabads including Sur Shabad Parivaar, Bibi Ravinder Kaur ji and Bibis Kamalpreet Kaur and Balbir Kaur. Bhai Hukam Singh of Siri Guru Singh Sabha Alhambra; Bhai Ajit Singh Nimana of Ventura; Bhai Rajvinder Kaur (Bhai Gurdeep Singhs daughter); and Bhai Sucha Singh, Bhai Naiv Singh of Sikh Center of Santa Ana; Snatam Kaur Khalsa (world renowned recording artist) and Prabhunam Kaur Khalsa (Snatams Mataji); Bhai Gopal Singh of Guru Nanak Sikh Center, Buena Park; International Institute of Gurmat Studies Bibi Gurpreet Kaur; and Bhai Jatinder Singh, Hollywood Sikh Temple.Dara Singh Sidhu of Fresno gave an inspiring talk about Guru Gobind Singh Ji and the formation of the Khalsa, and Jethadar Professor Manjit Singh attended the program and gave a very good discourse about Guru Sahibs life and inspiration.
Several Federal, State and County dignitaries attended and both received and gave presentations at the program. Those that received special awards from the Sikh Community of Southern California included U.S. Congresswoman of the 27th District Judy Chu who attended the program for the sixteenth year in a row. She spoke poignantly highlighting her work in establishing the first Sikh Caucus in Congress. She also referred to her commitment to see that Sikhs would be included in the detailed reports that are produced by the Department of Justice about hate crimes. She congratulated the Sikh Community on the recent U.S. Army accommodations to allow Captain Simratpal Singh to serve in the army with his Turban and Beard. The Sadh Sangat shouted out Bole So Nihals to Judys comments.
California State Treasurer John Chiang also attended the program, as he has done for many years. Commenting on why he sees it to be of such importance to attend Baisakhi as a state official representing Californias 40 Million people, he highlighted his observation of the peaceful and hard-working nature of the Sikh Community. Since Turban-wearing Sikhs have continuously been the brunt of hate acts and hate crimes since 9/11, the Sikh community was very pleased to see and hear Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim Mc Donnell present. Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck was represented by Captain Don Graham. Field Representative Jacqueline Hamilton from U.S. Congresswoman Karen Bass, 37th District attended, as did the Senior Field Deputy for Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, Rachel Zaiden.
Both Bhai Sahiba Bibiji Inderjit Kaur and Siri Sikdar Sahiba Sardarni Guru Amrit Kaur of Sikh Dharma International addressed the Sadh Sangat and gave inspiring messages about Guru Sahib and the formation of the Khalsa.
“Spirit of Baisakhi Awards” and saropas (prayer shawls) were presented on behalf of the Sikh Community of Southern California to several distinguished individuals and organizations for their examples of leadership. Those included the Buena Park Gurdwara Management Team and Sadh Sangat for their many years of support for the Baisakhi program, Surinder Singh Ji for his dedication to making this program happen since 1999, Manjit Singh of the Bhai Kanhaiya Sewa Dal for providing both the Degh and parts of the Gurus Langar each year.
Gurus Langar was prepared at the Hollywood Sikh Temple (Vermont Gurdwara) for the many thousands of devotees who attended the program and was organized under the direction of Hardeep Singh Virdi who has come all the way from Indiana each of the last several years to do this seva. Many, many individuals contributed to doing the Langar seva, including Dr. Manjit Singh Khalsa, Amarjit Singh, Tony Singh, Manjit Singh, Bicky Singh and the Bhai Kanhaiya Sewa Dal.
The Kirtan Darbar continued with rousing high-spirited Kirtan performed by the Chardi Kala Jetha. The final Five Ragi Jethas consisting of Bhai Jaswant Singh, Bhai Varinder Singh (Khalsa Care Foundation), Bhai Surdeep Singh, Bhai Sobha Singh (Norco Gurdwara) and under the direction of Bhai Ragbhir Singh (Walnut Gurdwara) all sang together with beautiful devotion. The Guru Ram Das Ashram Kirtan Jetha played the closing Kirtan which included Guru Gobind Singhs Bani, Gobinday, Mukunday, Udaaray, Apaaray, Hariang, Kariang, Nirnaamay Akaamay as Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji was escorted outdoors for the beginning of the resplendent Nagar Kirtan. Guru Sahibs float was designed by Joginder Singh Sidhu and was made to look truly worthy of a King. The Sadh Sangat of the Khalsa Care Foundation did all of the float decorations for the several floats in the parade and organized the entire procession, which proceeded a couple of miles in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. The many sevadars from the Khalsa Care Foundation that were involved in the organizing of the parade included Gurdip Singh Malik, Joginder Singh Sidhu, Surinder Singh, Sukhi Singh and Sohan Singh Chowdry. There were many sumptuous sweets and snacks served after the parade organized by the Bhai Kanhaiya Sewa Dal.