Los Angeles mayor dons turban at Baisakhi celebration

April 8th, 2008 - 1:07 pm ICT by admin  

Los Angeles, April 8 (IANS) The Hispanic mayor of Los Angeles donned a colourful turban as he joined about 15,000 Sikhs in Southern California to celebrate the 309th anniversary of the Khalsa. “When I first put on a turban (during the Baisakhi celebration) so many years ago, I did it as a sign of great respect for the Sikh community. Today, we acknowledge and celebrate the (Sikh) spiritual nation,” Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said at the annual Baisakhi celebrations at the Los Angeles Convention Center here Sunday.

Shwait Malik, mayor of the Sikh holy city of Amritsar - which has a sister-city relationship with Bakersfield city here, had specially flown in for the occasion.

California State Assembly member Mike Eng, California State Board of Equalization Chair Judy Chu, California State Senator Mark Ridley-Thomas, Los Angeles City Councilman Bernard C. Parks, Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich were among those who joined the Sikhs in celebrating Baisakhi.

The celebrations began with a kirtan programme by Sikh schoolchildren and jathas. It also featured a joint performance by five groups.

The day ended with a colourful parade, comprising highly decorated floats, wending its way through downtown Los Angeles.

The hand-made floats, which carry Mul Mantra (the central theme of the faith) to educate the Los Angeles community about the Sikh identity, have become the most attractive feature of the parade over the years.

The organizers, comprising about two-dozen gurdwaras, also conferred the Mai Bhago Spirit of Baisakhi Award on those Sikh women who have made a significant contribution to promoting the Sikh message.

The awardees included Canadian doctor and filmmaker Harjot Kaur Singh, Inni Kaur Dhingra, Penny Yogiraj Sandhu, Valarie Kaur, and Shanti Kaur Khalsa.

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