YUBA CITY, California—This year Sikh Temple, Yuba City celebrated its 31st annual Nagar Kirtan to commemorate the Gurta-Gaddi of Guru Granth Sahib Ji. It is one of the most widely anticipated Nagar Kirtans in North America. Sangat from all over America comes to this event. The event lasts for three days during which sangat gets to enjoy kirtan done by various famous jathas from around the world. This year Hazoori Ragi Bhai Sarabjit Singh Ji Laadi came from Punjab to do Kirtan, along with many other jathas. Other well-known Sikh personalities were also present at the event.
Even though it was cold and wet over this Nagar Kirtan weekend, it seemed to have had no effect on the amount of Sangat. Cars were parked miles away and people were given shuttles to Gurdwara sahib. Due to the wet weather some cars got stuck in the mud. The rain created a huge problem for parking since most of the parking lots, which are near the Gurdwara, are actually just dirt fields.
There were huge line-ups in front of the main Diwaan hall to do ‘Matha-Tek’. Some Sangat waited in the line for a couple hours to get Darshan of Guru Maharaj. It was around 10 AM that the actual Nagar Kirtan procession started. Guru Granth Sahib Ji was seated on the main float and to begin, gatka demonstrations by the California Gatka Dal were performed. Soon after, the main float exited the Gurdwara and it went around Yuba City, while glorious hymns were being sung by the Ragis.
There were free stalls for Langar throughout the whole Gurdwara parking lot and free food was provided throughout the nagar kirtan route. There was also a bazaar in which vendors from all over America and Canada came to sell paintings, t-shirts, sweatshirts, suits, CDs, and other gurmat related items. As the main float, came back to the Gurdwara, the sangat started departing to their homes and some waited hours to get out of town because their cars were being blocked by other cars and the traffic was extremely heavy.
Although the nagar kirtan was positive to the most part, as with every year’s parade, there were complaints about lack of Sikhi parchaar. The Gurdwara Management invited speakers from across the world to take part in the procession, but it failed to cater to the youth. Like with every year, there was loud music being played on several floats which overshadowed the singing of kirtan—the true purpose of a Nagar Kirtan.
Every year, members of other religions also come out on the streets of Yuba City to hand out pamphlets about their religions and faiths. The Sikh community however, fails to make proper use of the opportunity to spread the message of the Sikh Gurus to the attending desi community as well as the wider world. The loud music and distribution of free food that leads to waste throughout the streets of Yuba City fails to create a positive image of the Sikh community to the American people.