Vaisakhi Celebrations in San Antonio


SAN ANTONIO, TX: The San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro joined thousands of Sikhs on Saturday, May 3 for Vaisakhi celebrations. Welcoming about 1,000 participants in the Vaisakhi Parade, the Mayor addressed the Sikh and Non-Sikh crowd highlighting the importance of diversity for all communities. The mayor specifically mentioned the Oak Creek Wisconsin tragedy and called for greater appreciation for heritage that creates a richer community for all.


The Mayor was also recognized by the local Sikh community for his outstanding leadership, commitment to education and continued support of the Sikh Community. Juspreet Kaur said, “Community service and charity are important to many world religions and cultures. But for followers of the Sikh Faith, Seva goes beyond just service, it is an act of Love. There is a long standing Sikh tradition of recognizing members of the community who are particularly active and dedicated to the needs of the underserved by giving them a saffron colored cloth called a siropa.  Siropa in its native Panjabi means Sir tho lakey pao takh, which is literally translated as head to feet. Figuratively it describes the complete commitment within a person’s actions. Today, we would like to bestow this honor on Mayor Julian Castro.”


The Parade was led by the Panj Piarey who are members of the local community who are also baptized leaders of faith. They walked along the streets of San Antonio symbolically clearing the way for the procession of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh scripture in a beautifully decorated float. Sikh crowds marched behind the float chanting prayers of peach and carrying banners that read “Recognize all of humankind as one race.”  Along the long procession, Sikhs from all over the Texas, dressed in colorful clothes marched to drum beats as loudspeakers blared music in the city’s unique little village of La Villita. Leaders of local area churches, the Chamber of Commerce, the Indian Association and many local government organizations also joined the Vaisakhi parade which traveled briefly along the famous Riverwalk of San Antonio not far from the Alamo, a historical monument of the state of Texas. The parade ended at the historic La Villita, which was filled with stalls and tents for additional festivities for parade goers and tourists alike. From learning to Tie a Turban to face painting, and even a station which allowed visitors to learn to write their names in native languages, booths attracted crowds of visitors to the activities.  “We really appreciate you doing it here in the heart of city of San Antonio.  It has really opened our eyes about Sikhism” said one visitor.

In a large tent at the center of the square, Sikhs were singing hyms and listening to speeches. Amarjit Singh Taan led the congregation on a reflection of Vaiskahi for the Sikhs and there was a Martial Arts Demonstration of Gatka by young Sikhs. Members of the Sikh Youth also presented speeches on the importance of  Justice and Human Right and the need to abolish social or class divisions amongst the people.  Harjot Kaur said “Sabhey eykai pehchanbo: Recognize the human race as One, Realize that beneath the names, the titles, the class, the gender, the skin color, the nationality — beneath everything, realize that we are all infinitely connected into One Eternal Being. Realize that we are all individual drops within an infinitely large ocean.”  Dilawal Singh, a high school students, said “As Sikhs, we are obligated to help anyone in need and that means anyone and everyone.”

Local Area Sikhs definitely took this message to heart as they featured two community service projects during the celebration.  Visitors brought gently used books for a book drive to benefit San Antonio Youth Literacy. There was also a Food and Fund Drive coordinated with the San Antonio Food Bank. Chief Development Officer, Michael Guerra of the San Antonio Food Bank was there to accept the donations. While thanking the Sikh Community, Guerra highlighted that the generous $5,000 donation would bring food to over 35,000 Texans.

The event concluded with a lively martial arts demonstration in the square and attendees enjoying the free food, cold drinks and snow-cones offered at the event. Attendee Susie Livesay said “This tradition of serving and distributing food is part of the Sikh way of life so it makes perfect sense to do it here and show San Antonio how much Sikhs care about the greater community.”