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World Sikh New Year Celebrations Continue All Month


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
Sikh New Year celebrations continue all month

InsideToronto Article: Sikh New Year celebrations continue all month

Desi Dialogues

As I checked my grocery flyers this week, I was pleasantly surprised to see that all the major supermarkets had wished their customers a Happy Baisakhi Vaisakhi.

The Sikh New Year, celebrated on April 13, is the most important festival for the Sikh community, here in Toronto and abroad. Canadian Punjabis and Sikhs celebrate the New Spring Year, and celebrate the exuberant harvest festival, which takes place in the northern home state of Punjab, India.

Vaisakhi is also more then just a New Year. It's a time to celebrate a historic date - 1699 - when the guiding principles of the Sikh faith were forged. Sikhs also celebrate the birthday of their revered priest, the tenth Sikh, Guru Gobind Singh. The festival is celebrated throughout April and is marked by celebrations, music and prayers within the Sikh world.

An annual ritual in Toronto is the three-hour procession April 25. Beginning at 1 p.m., thousands of Sikhs will congregate at the Better Living Centre near Exhibition Place to take part in a colourful procession. Sikhs in colourful attire will dance and pray while walking around Toronto's downtown. The huge procession will wind its way to Queen's Park where it will end at around 4 p.m.

While mainstream marketers such as supermarkets have understood the importance of Vaisakhi, and have acknowledged the festival, it has also been refreshing to see other service providers customizing their marketing mix to fit the true needs of this huge community.

Bobby Sahni of Rogers Communicaitons says "acknowledging the community" is no longer just sufficient.

"There is a lot of clutter in the market, and we need to break that by customizing our content to fit the needs of the community," he said.
Sahni, for instance, talks of the importance of prayers and the need to listen to them from their temples by the members of the Sikh community.

Due to that important need, says Sahni, Rogers Cable, now beams prayers from the Sikhs' holiest gurudwara (temple) - the Golden Temple - in Amritsar, India.

These prayers are beamed directly into the living rooms of Sikh Canadians here, via a newly launched digital channel, PTC Punjabi (Ch 853). The channel offers the morning and evening prayers from the Indian temple seven days a week.

Sikhs can also listen to the prayers from their local gurudwara in Malton and Mississaugua by accessing the recently launched MH1 (ch 852) on Rogers digital cable.

For Vaisakhi, the company has provided free access to its digital customers, to watch free previews of the Punjabi Package on channels such as ATN Alpha Punjabi (Channel 850) and SSTV (Channel 851). During Vaisakhi viewers can also access free Punjabi content round the clock with Multicultural On Demand (on Channel 800).

As for me, I am glad that I now get some of my South Asian groceries at a mainstream supermarket and don't have to go all the way to a local Indian store to get my favourite Indian Paneer (cottage cheese).



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