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Celebrating Sikh beginnings.

Thousands of members of Calgary's Sikh community united yesterday to celebrate the 309th anniversary of their relig...

Thousands of members of Calgary's Sikh community united yesterday to celebrate the 309th anniversary of their religion.

Between 15,000 and 20,000 people and six floats weaved through the northeast neighbourhoods of Castleridge, Martindale and Falconridge as part of the annual Nagar Kirtan Parade.

The revellers also marked Vaisakhi, a festival commemorating freedom and well being, said Mohinder Singh Manhas, chairman of the Dashmesh Culture Centre, 135 Martindale Blvd. N.E.

The festival also promotes equality among all people, regardless of caste, creed, gender, religion, age or affiliation and expresses peace throughout the shared community.

"It's a peaceful walk to praise God," he said."This year was a record crowd." The event also incorporated the third annual Langar: Walking Away Hunger campaign, which raised more than $14,000 to collect about 40 boxes of food for the Calgary Interfaith Food Bank.

"There are three basic principles of our religion. The first is everyone should work hard, the second is everybody should meditate ... and the third is to donate one-tenth of your earnings to the needy," he said.
"It was a really nice day and the weather co-operated and lots of people donated lots of food."

In the past, the local Sikh community has raised $1 million for the Alberta Children's hospital.

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