LIVINGSTON, California, USA—Sikh Sangat from Livingston, Tracy, Fresno and other parts of California gathered in Livingston to partake in the annual Nagar Kirtan to commemorate the festival of Hola Mahalla. As per a statement by Livingston Mayor Gurpal Samra, over 3,500 Sikhs took part in the procession.
The procession included various floats with a display of Sikh and Punjabi heritage. The California Gatka Dal thrilled the attendees with display of the Sikh martial arts which included sword fighting. Sikh devotees served langar (free food) to the attendees, Sikhs and non-Sikhs alike. The free food is always a big attraction for the non-Sikhs who come and enjoy the procession and learn about the rich Sikh history.
The nagar kirtan in Livingston is held annually and this year was the 15th anniversary of the event. Similar events are held all over California, including the major parade in Yuba that is organized annually in November. Los Angeles, Bakersfield, Stockton, Fresno and Selma are some of the other towns that also organize yearly parades.
Although the main motive of these events is for the Sikh congregation to get together, they also help raise awareness of the Sikh religion to non-Sikhs. Sikhs have been a target of hate crimes, especially after the attack of 9/11. This past year, a white supremacist opened fire a Sikh Gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin claiming life of six.