One of the biggest Sikh festivals in the United States is taking place this weekend as Yuba City hosts its 40th annual Nagar Kirtan at the Sikh Temple.
Things started at 6 p.m. Friday when the bazaar opened for shopping, followed by a kirtan, telling or story, and fireworks show at 7 p.m. Saturday featured a hoisting of a Sikh flag and a kirtan, followed by the opening of the bazaar for the day. There will be a Midnight rahen sabaee kirtan at 6 p.m. Saturday night. Free vegetarian meals for all visitors, a custom known as langar, are also being served throughout the weekend.
The marquee event of the festival is the Sunday parade that goes through 4½ miles of Yuba City, led by Guru Granth Sahib.
Several businesses and vendors have stands at the festival, including Rideout Memorial Hospital, Cricket Wireless and several Punjabi TV stations. Bloodsource is also hosting a blood drive in memory of Sandeep Singh Dhaliwal, the Harris County, Texas, Sheriff’s deputy killed while conducting a traffic stop in September.
The Sikh Coalition expects over 100,000 people from across the country to be in attendance, organizers said. This year marks the 550th gurpurab or birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism. About a half-million in America practice the religion, which dates to the end of the 15th century in the Punjab region of India. The faith has around 25 million worshipers worldwide.
“Nagar Kirtans take place in Sikh communities all over the country, but what makes this specific one so spectacular is that it is a rare opportunity to capture the essence of what it means to be Sikh in America,” said Sikh Coalition media and communications manager Rajanpreet Kaur.
Yuba City has a strong Punjabi population of around 12,000 to 15,000, most of whom practice the religion, according to UC Davis.
The festival is free and open to public.