“Today is Vaisakhi, one of the most important observances of the year for Sikhs in Canada and around the world.
“It was on this day in 1699 that Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the tenth Sikh guru, founded the Khalsa, or the community of Sikhs who have been baptized in the Amrit Sanchar ceremony. Today, there are more than 23 million Sikhs worldwide and over 500,000 in Canada.
“Falling on the first day of the Vaisakh month on the solar Nanakshahi calendar, and as an ancient harvest festival in the State of Punjab in India, Vaisakhi also marks the beginning of a new year and a new harvest season in many parts of India and around the world.
“Canada’s vibrant Sikh community – one of the largest outside of India – organizes some of the biggest Vaisakhi celebrations outside of Punjab, where Sikhism originated in the 15th century. Observances at Gurdwaras are a focal point of celebrations, along with parades and processions – known as Nagar Kirtans – through cities and towns.
“For all Canadians, Vaisakhi provides an excellent opportunity to reflect on the tremendous contributions that Sikhs have made to this country’s rich and diverse heritage.
“As Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, I offer my best wishes for a happy and healthy Vaisakhi to all those celebrating today.”
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