May 04, 2007
NEW YORK (TIP): A Saturday of clear skies and a comfortable weather attracted
nearly 10000 Sikh men, women and children to the Annual Sikh Day Parade in Manhattan April 28.
The parade which assembled at 40th Street and Broadway marched to Madison Square Garden 23rd Street,
Broadway, and a distance of over 1 mile where a conference was held.
The parade was led by Guru Granth Sahib (the Sikh Holy scripture) regarded as the Living Master,
with Panj Piaras (the Five Beloveds) ahead of the float at which Guru Granth Sahi was majestically
carried. The float was tastefully decorated with fresh flowers and a group of priests sat in the
service of the Guru. There were raagis singing Gurbaani (singing of hymns from Guru Granth Sahib).
The float carrying Guru Granth Sahib was followed by sangat (congregation) from Gurdwara Sikh Cultural
Society, New York, and the gurdwara that is traditionally the host to the Parade. There were around a
dozen floats. There was a float that depicted Darbar Sahib (The Golden Temple at Amritsar). Yet another
carried Guru Nanak's images, followed by one with Guru Gobind Singh's images. Similarly, one carried a
replica of Shri Akal Takht Sahib. Another carried a big picture of Sant Baba Prem Singh Ji. Yet another
carried the images of martyrs, including Sant Jarnail Singh Bhinderanwale and his associates. Then there
was a float carrying images of Bhagats. The last in the long parade was the float of the United Sikhs, an
organization dedicated to promoting awareness about Sikhism and Sikhs worldwide. Each float depicted a
part of Sikh religion or history or culture. And, behind each float followed groups of people. There was
sangat from almost every gurdwara in New York. Many groups came from New Jersey, and Connecticut. Some came
from as far as Washington, Virginia and Pennsylvania. Between the floats moved Bands that appeared impressive
and sounded wonderful. However, one band master complained of the loud gurbaani recital from the float in front
which drowned the sound of the band. The band master was so annoyed that he said to The Indian Panorama reporter
that he would not come to the parade next year. Some of the bands that marched in the parade were Khalsa
Community School Band from Canada, Troop 236 Band, Maybrook, New York, Passaic County Band led by Band Master
Richard, Yonkers Marching Band led by Frank, New York All City Marching Band led by Band Master Jessica, and the
Stone Soup Symphony Palisades Park Fire Department Band led by James H. Lockwood. The Sikh Gatka Akhara exhibited
the traditional martial arts of the Sikhs called Gatka.
An addition to the parade this year was a squad of desis serving with various government departments.
A number of people who have been coming to the Sikh Day Parade for many years appreciated that the sangat
appeared to be more disciplined this year. "Whereas earlier, one would see large number of Sikhs standing
on both sides of the route of the parade instead of coming in and joining, there were very few mere spectators
this year" observed Balkar Singh. Also, the marshalling of the parade appeared to be better organized. The
Sikh Cultural Society Chairman Rajinder Singh Lalli and the Gurdwara Sikh Cultural Society Secretary Raghbir
Singh were seen moving in a scooter from end to end to better marshal the parade. However, one also noticed
the absence of the curious crowds of Americans who in earlier years thronged the route of the parade. Also,
one noticed the absence of other Indian community groups.
The parade culminated in a conference at the Madison Square Gardens which was addressed by
Sikh leaders, law makers, administration representatives and representatives from other faiths.
Dr. Surjit Singh, Dr. Gurmit Singh Auluck and Dr. Amarjit Singh spoke on Sikh history and the
need to have a sovereign nation of the Sikhs. They said that only when the Sikhs have a sovereign
nation that they can enjoy the sunshine of freedom. They blamed the government of India for discriminating
against the Sikhs, of denying them their basic rights and of oppressing and suppressing them. They declared
that nothing short of Khalistan should be the goal of the Sikhs. Dr. Auluck was particularly critical of the
Akalis whom he described as anti-Sikh for their sabotaging the cause of the Sikhs and Khalistan. He chided the
Akali leaders for their alliance with the BJP. Surprisingly, there was no objection raised to the allegations
by any of the Akali leaders occupying front seats at the conference. Similarly, while Congress party was being
condemned no voice was raised to defend its position even though a number of Indian Overseas Congress representatives
were around. The conference appeared to be a Khalistani gathering with all the Khalistani slogan shouting even though
the majority present there may not subscribe to the Khalistani ideology. But, the platform was in command of the
Khalistani elements who succeeded in creating an impression that all Sikhs favored Khalistan. Dr. Manjinderpal Kaur,
Director United Sikhs also addressed the gathering. She said that the United Sikhs was all set to file a suit against
the French government for its ban on wearing of turban by Sikh children in schools. She called upon all Sikhs to lend
support to the United Sikhs in its fight to defend the right to turban. Amongst the law makers who spoke included Mayor
Bloomberg's representative, TL&C Commissioner Matthew Daus, Council Members Tony Avella and John Liu. Reynaldo Vera
of the department of Community Relations Service, New York City also spoke on the occasion.
Matthew Daus said," This is the 6th Sikh Day Parade I have joined. And I have found the weather good as always.
Somebody is kind and keeps smiling on you". He praised the Sikh community for their hard work and honesty.
He said that he had known the Sikhs very well with whom he came in daily contact being the Commissioner of TL& C.
And he found them true to their work, their religion, their culture and the United States. He said that he had
come as a representative of Mayor Bloomberg who could not come personally. He conveyed the Mayor's greetings to
the Sikh community and presented a proclamation from the Mayor to the organizers.
Catholic Bishop of Long Island, Bishop William Murphy who is the chairman of the committee of Catholic Bishops of
the US responsible for dialogue with other religions in the USA also addressed the gathering. He appreciated the
Sikh community for their love of freedom, justice and equality and congratulated it on the occasion. He said he
was ever willing to interact with the community leaders on religious issues.
For the first time, a representative of JKLF, Raza Tariq addressed the gathering. He appeared quite pleased with
the demand for Khalistan and exhorted the Sikhs to continue their struggle till they achieved their goal. He said
that just as Indian government had killed the Sikhs in large numbers, "100,000 Kashmiris had been butchered by the
Sarabjit Singh Gobindpuri and Tejpal Kaur recited poems on the occasion.
The organizers presented to each of the speakers a memento of the 20th Sikh Day Parade.
A profusely illustrated colorful souvenir carrying valuable information about Sikh religion and Sikh history to
mark the 20th Sikh Day Parade was distributed on the occasion. Many knowledgeable people commented that the souvenir
was much improved than the ones that appeared in the last couple of years. "The Public Relations Chairman,
Gurnam Singh and his team have certainly produced an abiding memento to the parade", said Amrik Singh,
looking fondly at a copy of the souvenir.
The langar (free kitchen) was a major attraction. Dozens of gurdwaras, organizations and even individuals like
Phuman Singh had set up food and snacks stalls which attracted large crowds right from 10 A.M. on to 5 P.M.
The milling crowds in the langar area on 24th Street included a large number of people from other communities.
Article by Courtesy of http://www.theindianpanorama.com