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Winnipeg Sikhs hold religious procession

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WINNIPEG - Thousands of Winnipeg Sikhs took to the streets downtown for an annual religious parade today.

Last year, police estimated a crowd of 8,800 people attended Nagar Kirtan, a religious procession led by a float carrying the Sikh holy scriptures.

This afternoon, as many as 10,000 of the Sikh faithful were expected to attend, said Amarjeet Warraich, president of the Manitoba Sikh and Cultural Seniors Centre Inc.

The Sikh custom involves the processional singing of hymns.

Police closed the streets as the float carrying the Sikh scriptures wound its way around Memorial Park.

Following the religious procession, a feast and speeches were held, with greetings from Manitoba Progressive Conservative leader Hugh McFadyen.

He said in an interview it was a celebration of peace and an opportunity to acknowledge the role the Sikh community plays in Manitoba.

There are an estimated 20,000 Sikhs in Manitoba, said Warraich.

Sunday’s parade is part of Vaisakhi, an ancient harvest festival usually celebrated in April across the North Indian states.

Traditionally, members of the procession don’t wear shoes in deference to the scripture. Many cover their heads and wear orange or saffron. Bystanders bow their heads to the scripture.

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