Stockton (USA) - Thousands of Sikhs from across the United States took part in a religious procession as part of the harvest festival celebrations in Stockton, California on Sunday.
The procession comprised of a huge truck, which was turned into a chariot to carry the Guru Granth Sahib. In the procession, also called the Nagar Kirtan, people were dressed in traditional attire and acrobats performed various stunts, including the Gatka (style of stick fighting, with wooden sticks intended to simulate swords).
Devotees said the procession was organised to celebrate100 years of the gurudwara in Stockton and was also dedicated to the "Ghadar Movement" which was started from here to free India from the clutches of Britishers.
"This Gurudwara holds historical significance, Gadri Baba (Gadri Baba Mangu Ram Muggowalia), who established the Gurdwara in 1912, he also fought for the freedom struggle of India. The 100 years of the Gurdwara would be celebrated in October and the celebrations will continue for a year. This procession is also being taken out to celebrate 100 years of this Gurdwara. In October 2012 a big programme would be organised on the east and the west coast. The final programme is dedicated to the Gadri Baba," said Hardeep Singh, a Sikh devotee.
He informed that the century celebrations would be observe on October 14 this year.
Sikh men and women sang devotional songs as they walked in the procession and went around the city.
Devotees believed that it was important to undertake such processions as it would make the new generation aware about their culture and tradition.
"Such procession will spread knowledge and the new generation will become aware about the Sikh culture and traditions. The political and religious leaders, participating in the procession, express their views about the Sikh religion, and the new generation comes to know about the roots of the Sikh culture," said Kuljeet Singh, another Sikh devotee.
Before the procession, various Sikh leaders addressed a gathering inside the Gurudwara hall.
The Sikh religion, the fifth largest religion in the world, was founded by Guru Nanak (1469-1539 A.D.) who was succeeded by nine other Sikh Gurus, with Guru Gobind Singh (1666-1708 A.D.) being the last.
There are more than 20 million followers of the Sikh religion across the world.
Sikhs form only about two percent of the Indian population. However, the Sikhs made their presence felt in Canada, UK, USA, Western Europe and Australia as they migrated since the early nineteenth century.