YUBA CITY: Thousands of Sikhs converged on the Yuba Sutter area ‘on Sunday for a colorful celebration of the Coronation Anniversary of Guru Granth Sahib culminating in a 7 mile parade through Yuba City.

Eminent American political leaders including Congressman Wally Herger; Assemblyman Chris Chandler, San Francisco Mayor Art Agnor, Sutter County Board Chairman Tom Peffer and city Mayor Larry Mark joined the procession.

A fascinating mix of traditional Sikh elements and modernity, the religious procession left at 11 a.m. from the blue and white domed Sikh Temple Gurdwara in the orchards of Tierra Buena. It wound 3 1/2 miles into Yuba City and back again to the temple by 3:30 p.m. for a vegetarian feast.

Leading the parade—Yuba City’s biggest of the year—a truck loaded with Sikh priests carried their bible, known as Guru Granth Sahib.

The float was covered with white cloth, blue and red decorations and a banner reading, “God Is One.”

It was followed by other floats, pickup trucks, and sports cars with representatives from Sikh Temples as far away as Seattle, New York, and Toronto Canada. At least 10 California cities including Fresno, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Jose and Stockton were represented.

Many of the men had swords and daggers while the women wore salwar kameezes clothing of brilliant oranges, yellows, reds and greens. The electronically amplified sounds of the tablahs, electronic synthesizers and religious chanting carried for miles. A helicopter carrying Sikh dignitaries would swoop down and drop flowers on the crowd.

It was the ninth annual Sikh parade in the Yuba-Sutter area, which has a population of between. 8,000-9,000 Sikhs, The Tierra Buena Temple received the first holy book in Northern California.

Held on the first Sunday of November the parade commemorates Oct 6, 1708, when the 10th and last of the Sikh’s leaders Guru Gobind Singh, declared the sacred book to be the immortal Guru of the Sikhs after the last of his four sons died, leaving him without a successor.

Sikhs revere the book as a living teacher, and have surrounded it with rituals befitting a person. For example, the book is covered with blankets when not being read, placed on pillows, fanned and stored in a “bedroom” at night.

“We take care of the book like i is a human being,” said Balvinder Singh Brar, a grape farmer who travelled from Fresno with other members of his temple.

Harpal Chahal, honorary Secretary of the Sikh Temple estimated that between 10,000 and 11,000 people came to the temple in the morning when devotees worshiped the sacred book and ate morsels of a sacrament called parshad, made of flour, butter and sugar

“Sikhs from all over the United States think of the Yuba-Sutter area as the spiritual center in this country,” said Chahal. It looks a great deal like Punjab which is also farming country, except that there’s fog here and no monsoons. Sikhs here have also preserved their cultural heritage more than in most other places.”

In addition to the parade, Sikh priest’s continuously read the Guru Granth Sahib from Friday to Saturday, when convention of Sikhs met to discuss issues of concern to Sikhs,

The most pressing issue was the political turmoil in the Indian State of Punjab, where the majority of the population is Sikhs. The Sikhs there want to expand Punjab to include neighboring Sikh dominated lands and form a nation called Khalistan.

Throughout the parade priests and others shouted slogans in Punjabi calling for Punjab’ liberation from Indian rule.

Article extracted from this publication >> November 11, 1988