Outside the Gurdwara Singh Sabha Sikh Temple in Victoria, preparations are underway for a religious celebration that is expected to draw thousands to the city this weekend.

“Vaisakhi is one of the most important celebrations for us as Sikhs,” said Jatinder Singh with Gurdwara Singh Sabha Victoria. “Vaisakhi and the Khalsa is about the community and the Sikh people.”

Singh says Khalsa Day celebrations haven’t taken place in Victoria in more than a century.

“Surrey has a big celebration every year and now we want one here,” Singh said.

Sikhs celebrate Vaisakhi, which typically occurs in mid-April, as the day on which the tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, created the order of the Khalsa, the collective body of observant Sikhs in 1699.

Sikhism is the fifth largest religion in the world with approximately 30 million followers around the world.

“Most people in Victoria have crossed paths with a Sikh or have a Sikh neighbour,” Singh explained. “But they may not know too much about us as a community or our history.”

The always colourful festivities top headlines every year in Surrey, now the biggest Vaisakhi celebration outside of India.

Victoria’s festivities which include free food, martial arts demonstrations, song and dance will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday at 470 Cecilia Road.

The parade, which runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., will begin and end on Cecilia Road.

“It’s going to be very colourful, very loud and very happy,” Singh explained.

Ceilidh Millar