The cloth-changing ritual took place Wednesday morning (April 13) on the occasion of Vaisakhi – also called Khalsa Day.
“This is the happiest day for the Sikh community… a big moment,” said Gurpreet Singh Bal, president of Dixie Gurdwara. “I really want to greet my all brothers and sisters. This is the day of humanity.”
Large numbers from across the region attended the ceremony when the giant flagpole was brought down hydraulically and re-hoisted after changing the orange coloured cloth.
Vaisakhi is also one of the biggest annual celebration for Punjabi Hindus, who mark it as an annual harvest or spring festival. For them, it is the beginning of a New Year, which they celebrate with requisite bathing, partying and worshiping.
For Sikhs, the festival is of great significance because their 10th guru, Guru Gobind Singh, laid down the foundation of Khalsa (the Order of the Pure Ones) on this day in 1699, giving the five Ks (articles of faith).
The five Ks include kesh (uncut hair), kangha (a wooden comb), kara (a metal bracelet), kachera (cotton undergarments) and kirpan (a strapped curved sword).
“Today, we want to thank the Canadian government for allowing us to carry five Ks everywhere in Canada,” said Dixie Gurdwara general secretary Ranjit Singh Dulay.
Meanwhile, Vaisakhi was also celebrated on Parliament Hill.
Last Saturday (April 9), Brampton-North MP Ruby Sahota kicked off the celebration in Ottawa with continuous recitation of the Sikh’s holy book Guru Granth Sahib.
“This was the first time Vaisakhi was celebrated here in the Canadian Parliament on such a large scale and it is an extremely proud moment for Canadian Sikhs,” said Sahota. “I look forward to this becoming an annual event so that we can continue to share our culture, traditions and language with all Canadians.”
She also gave a Vaisakhi cultural reception featuring music, bhangra and dance.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended both events and announced that his government will make a formal apology (May 18) in the House of Commons for the Komagata Maru. The incident, which occurred 102 years ago, had the government of the day turning away more than 300 Indians seeking a better life in Canada.