While a Google search will probably bring up several versions of what it means to be Sikh and what Vaisakhi aims to celebrate, a spiritual interpretation of having faith depends on individual perspective and gain. At the end of the day, Sikhism enforces there is only one God and provides generous teachings to guide followers toward a belief system that better connects them to God. Although Vaisakhi may be a religious celebration that encompasses communal integration, it is obvious that the event revels in its glory based on how members of the community (Sikh or non-Sikh) personalize, accept, and share the experience as it contributes to society every year.
So what’s your personal take?
“Sikhism to me is about leading a truthful and good life and not judging. It is also about living a life where you serve the community around you.” -Kanchan Rakhra
“Vaisakhi is something that I’ve experienced only in Vancouver or Surrey at the parades…I was told Vaisakhi was celebrated in India to welcome the harvest and the religious significance came into being when Khalsa was formed during this celebration by Guru Gobind Singh Ji.” -Jessica Virk
“As a first generation Canadian Sikh, the Vaisakhi parade is a big part of the celebration in our city. I think it creates exposure to other communities in the lower mainland. I find it at times unfortunate when people from within the community [incorporate] political rhetoric into the celebration. We should be inviting as a community, since Sikhi philosophy is very kind, loving & accepting. The political issues can be addressed at other places (e.g. Art Gallery, city hall, etc…)” – Anonymous
“Vaisakhi is an amazing celebration that brings communities and cultures together. Most people of other cultures don’t know exactly what Vaisakhi is, but they are so open and wanting to join in on the festivities! It is a wonderful feeling knowing that multiculturalism is so alive in Vancouver and Sikhism is so warmly embraced.” -Anonymous
“How you live your life as a Sikh is as individual as the person. I personally believe it is important to have a strong connection not only to God, but Sikhism as a faith. It is not defined for me by parents or my spouse, but how I live, what I believe and how it all makes me feel as a ‘soul’ on this earth. Sikhism instructs that our life has a purpose and a goal. It offers an opportunity for self and God realization, something I have personally gravitated towards more over the years. To be a ‘true’ Sikh, you must have a personal devotion to God, but the level of devotion is up to the individual. ‘Naam Japna’ is the daily practice to meditate by chanting in God’s name and devoting oneself to God. I practice this daily …it provides me with a feeling of calmness and the feeling that no matter what happens in the day, ‘everything will be alright.’ It’s funny, if I happen to miss a morning when I don’t do it, I feel ‘disconnected’ from God, it is not until I meditate that I feel at peace and ‘whole’ again. I try to live my life as honest Sikh, the best person I can be. There maybe Sikhs who follow the faith more closely, practice the five K’s and are ‘Amrit Shukh’ (Baptized), but does that make them more Sikh than I am. It is not others who define you as a Sikh, but about the connection you have with God on a personal level. If you remain true to him, he will never fail you.” –Ruby Sull
“For me Sikhism sums up in one line from gurbani: “Awall Allah noor upaya, kudrat ke sab bande. Ek noor te sab jag upjaya, kaun bhale ko mande!”…. It means that every person, faith, n religion came from the same god. No one is of higher or lower cast, good or bad, because everyone is equal. Every person’s religion and beliefs should be respected because they all lead to the same path of God. It’s similar to how if you wana drive in to Vancouver from Surrey, you can take multiple paths yet they all lead you to the same ultimate destination.” – Jatinder Bal