Two high-energy events celebrating Sikh and Sri Lankan culture took place in Hawke’s Bay during the weekend, showcasing talent and diversity in both communities.
In Hastings, members of the Sikh community took part in the Vaisakhi celebration, which included a rousing and joyful parade through the city.
Vaisakhi is an important and popular harvest festival celebrated in the northern Indian state of Punjab and other parts of the country. It marks the beginning of the new solar year and the harvest season and has both religious and cultural significance.
“It is an important day for the Sikh community as it marks the founding of the Khalsa Panth which means the pure one by the tenth Sikh guru, Shri Guru Gobind Singh in March 1699,” said the president of the New Zealand Sikh Society Hastings Inc., Jarnail Singh.
“The day is celebrated with great enthusiasm by Sikhs, who visit gurudwaras (Sikh temples), take part in processions, offer prayers and partake in events like Nagar Kirtans.”
Singh said there was an amazing turnout from the Sikh community and local community leaders, and highlights included martial arts presentations and the general feeling of unity.
He also said it was great to be able to inform the general public through pamphlets on what Sikhism is.
The Hawke’s Bay Punjabi Sikh community recently cooked and delivered 1000 meals a day to help victims of Cyclone Gabrielle.
Across Hawke’s Bay at Pathumrungsiwatanaram Monastery in Clive, the Sri Lankan community also came together to celebrate Sri Lankan New Year.
The celebration usually takes place on April 14 and is based on the sun’s movement from the Meena Rashiya (House of Pisces) to the Mesha Rashiya (House of Aries).
More than 100 community members took part in the event, which was full of traditional food, games, music and customs.
Community member Chamil Liyanage said the festival would no doubt have brought the Sri Lankan community together, and that it acted as an opportunity to pass on the traditions to the younger generation.