Nathan Phillips Square was abuzz with colorful attire on Sunday as the Sikh community gathered to celebrate Khalsa Day.
Manjh Parmar, secretary of the Sikh New Year celebration, said members of the community hold their main event at a temple and gather at Nathan Phillips to share their values with others.
“We are all part of society. Our main principles are sharing, living honestly and remembering God,” said Parmar.
There were concerns that the celebration would be small, as it was the first since COVID hit the city two years ago. But thousands of people turned out.
“We have buses that come from everywhere. The day is going well, and it is a beautiful day. God has been good to us,” Parmar said.
Khalsa Day marks the founding of the Sikh Order in 1699.
“Toronto is home to a large and diverse Sikh community, and today we recognize the contributions they make to our city,” said Mayor John Tory.
Betty Calabuese said she came to the celebration from Scarborough to enjoy a “different cultural experience.
“It’s fun because people have come up to us and told us about the celebration,” said Calabuese, as he ate a traditional Sikh lunch, which was free for all at food shops.
There were also information booths on donating blood, autism, drug awareness and one for what is a Sikh.
“This is so special. Everyone getting along. It makes me happy and I love learning about a new culture,” said Sandy Seymore.
One big group that stood out was the Sikh Motorcycle Club of Ontario, with their turbans and biker jackets.
“We use motorcycles to start a conversation,” said Jagdeep Singh, adding that it has been four years since the law allowed Sikhs to drive without helmets.
The group uses the club to raise money for Diabetes Canada, as well as Renos for Heroes, a support organization for veterans.
“If a Canadian veteran comes home and lost a leg or an eye, we make sure they get the renovations they need for their home,” Singh said.
The Khalsa Day celebration has grown from 2,000 people since 1978 to become one of the largest events in the city.