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Los Angeles Sikh NRIs showcase culture in 2016 Rose Parade float

Los Angeles, Jan 01, 2015
NRIpress.Club/Gary Singh/Ramesh

The Rose Parade, also known as the Tournament of Roses and the Rose Parade presented by Honda, is part of “America’s New Year Celebration” held in Pasadena, California each year on New Year’s Day. Originally started on January 1, 1890, the Rose Parade is watched in person by hundreds of thousands of spectators on the parade route, and is broadcast on multiple television networks in the United States

The 127th Rose Parade 2016 is being presented by Honda and in addition to the floral floats, viewers will be dazzled by the marching bands, equestrian units and other performers along the 5 1/2 mile route down Colorado Boulevard. Forty floats participated in the Rose Parade, that themed “Find Your Adventure.”

NRI Sikhs’s entry in the Rose Parade second year is called Vasakhi, named after a harvest festival in India. The float is designed to raise awareness of Sikh contributions and culture.

The float features an observant Sikh man with a beard and a bright yellow turban, sitting atop a white horse, on his way to participate in Vasakhi festivities.

The center of the float shows cultural games; an ethnic bazaar; embroideries; foods; and two peacocks, the state bird of Punjab.
“The purpose of Sikh float at the Rose Parade is to spread more public awareness about Sikh Americans and the Sikh faith, which began in India,” according to Rashpal Singh Dhindsa, founder and president of the United Sikh Mission.

The front of the float pictures a group of Sikh-Americans celebrating the harvest festival set below an iconic bejeweled decorated white horse ridden by a member of the Sikh-American community. A floral ferris wheel is set among traditional Punjabi Urns placed between the peacocks, Pakhi Traditional embroided hand held fans, Phulkari traditional embroidery of Punjab, trays of traditional candy. The rear of the float features a map of India detailing the Punjab region framed by stalks of grain and dual American & Sikh flags.

An estimated 22,900 flowers were used to decorate this float.

Sikhism is the fifth largest religion in the world with a population of upwards of 30 million worldwide. Sikhism is a monotheistic religion, and the basic Sikh belief is represented in the phrase Ik Onkar meaning “One God.” Sikhism preaches a message of Devotion and remembrance of God at all times, truthful living, equality of mankind and denounces superstitions and blind rituals.

Despite being one of the world’s largest world religions, Sikhism remains one of the most unknown traditions in America,” Dr. Sukhdarshan Singh told NRIpress. “The lack of understanding has led to serious consequences, including discriminatory policies, bigoted stereotypes, traumatic school bullying and violent hate crimes.”

Sikhs have a long history of standing for justice- Guru Tegh Bahadur, observed Mughal state authorities forcefully converting its Hindu constituents. Although this oppression targeted a religious community to which he did not belong and whose beliefs he did not share, Guru Tegh Bahadur stood up firmly for their right to practice religion freely — and the state responded by publicly executing Guru Tegh Bahadur