Sikh Community In New York City Celebrates Vaisakhi

Tuesday is Vaisakhi, the Sikh New Year festival marked around the world. CBS2's Kiran Dhillon reports on how the community in New York City is celebrating.

Video Transcript

- Today is Vaisakhi, the Sikh New Year festival marked around the world.

- CBS 2's Karen Dillon reports on how the community here is celebrating.

KIRAN DHILLON: On one of the holiest days of the year, hundreds of Sikhs are gathering at this church, also known as a Gurdwara, in South Richmond Hill to mark Vaisakhi.

The holiday, an opportunity for Sikhs everywhere to come together, to celebrate their faith, and collective history.

- For the Sikh, Vaisakhi is so important.

KIRAN DHILLON: Vaisakhi originally began centuries ago as a harvest festival in the Punjab region of India. In 1699, it took on extra meaning for Sikhs, when their 10th guru, Guru Gobind Singh, chose the day to establish the Khalsa, the name given to Sikhs who have been baptized.

- And the Guru Gobind Singh decided that, OK, you know this is the day when I will declare the Khalsa as a pomp. Pomp actually means as a group.

- To celebrate what's also the beginning of their new year, the community gathers in solidarity. We come to Gurdwara with the families, with the kids, pray there, pray for the whole community. We eat [INAUDIBLE], make sweets.

KIRAN DHILLON: A highlight of the festival is the annual parade that's taken place every year in Manhattan since the 1980s, one that's been canceled for two years due to the pandemic.

Even though COVID restrictions have changed how Sikh celebrate Vaisakhi, many say the spirit of the festival remains, and will not be lost.

- It's a real proud moment for us, because we learn what Sikh is. What the braveness is.

- It makes me feel extremely proud that I'm part of a religion that treats boys and girls with equality, and I have the same exact rights as men.

KIRAN DHILLON: Even if it's on a smaller scale, these devotees say they'll use the day to give thanks and pray for the year ahead. Meantime, they're wishing us all a Happy Vaisakhi. In South Richmond Hill, Queens, Kiran Dhillon, CBS 2 News.