Different sectors of the Abbotsford community will gather to celebrate and learn about Vaisakhi at the Fraser Valley Indo-Canadian Business Association Vaisakhi annual luncheon on Thursday.
Hundreds of individuals from Abbotsford's community service, business and faith based organizations will attend the popular intercultural event at the Abbotsford Banquet Centre to gain insights into the Sikh faith and to participate in the holiday, said FVICBA vice president Balbir Kambo.
"It's a way for us to say thanks and give back to the community of Abbotsford that gives us great support each year," said Kambo.
Vaisakhi, which falls on Saturday, April 14, is a key holiday for the Sikh faith.
The festival traditionally celebrates the harvest season in the Punjab region, the approach of spring and new beginnings and the day the Sikh's last guru established the tenets of the faith.
Abbotsford's Sikh temples, or gurdwaras, also host Vaisakhi events including prayer sessions, community meals and marital arts demonstrations.
But before that, members of each congregation gather to clean the gurdwara until it shines.
They also gather for a ceremonial flag washing at the temple.
Each congregation lowers their temple's flagpole bearing the Sikh flag, or Khanda, and reverently washes the post and the triangular, saffron-coloured flag before raising it again.
The name of the flag is the result of its symbol, the Khanda, or double-edged sword, an image that confirms the Sikh belief in one God. Last year the FVICBA and its host partner Vancity Credit Union hosted an extra large Vaisakhi celebration at the Khalsa Diwan Society gurdwara on South Fraser Way to celebrate the centennial of the historic temple across the street.
Though the celebration will be scaled down a bit from last year, it will still be a big event serving up to 300 people, said Kambo.
It's a lot of work for the FVICBA, staffed entirely by volunteers, but worth the effort, she said.
"It's another way of showing we have a diverse business community," she said, adding the association also develops scholarships and helps other non-profits fundraise.
"It's a really great way for the entire Abbotsford community to network with each other."
This year's guest speaker at the Vaisakhi lunch will be Gurinder Singh Mann, a professor of religious studies with the University of California. Mann's research focuses on the evolution of Sikh institutions and the community both in their country of origin and abroad.
"He spoke on diversity at a UFV [University of the Fraser Valley] conference and got some positive feedback so we invited him up," said Kambo.
For more information on the FVICBA e-mail balbir.kambo@rbc. com.