It is commonly thought that Diwali is the time all Asians in Kenya celebrate their new year. However, Asians profess different faiths so there’s always a religious celebration every now and then. Sikhs will be celebrating 313 years of Vaisakhi this weekend and this is actually my favourite festival.
Ever since childhood, my siblings and I would really look forward to this day. We’d get new clothes to wear to the Gurudwara (temple) and Dad would dish out crisp blue Sh20 notes to us (yes, I’m that old!). Then, off we would go to the Sikh Temple Pangani and watch the Nishaan Sahib ceremony where the mast is lowered and the pole that is covered with orange fabric is freed of the old fabric, washed with milk and with great aplomb raised back to its regal height with a new orange Nishaan Sahib and a flag with a Khanda on it. It would stand tall and proud, a sight that is very common at any Gurudwara in any part of the world.
Langar (communal meal) has always been like nectar. As a child I hated eating brinjals but for some reason the ones cooked at the temple always seemed to taste so nice and the best part about Vaisakhi every year was the kheer (Indian rice pudding). Then Mum and Dad would treat us to ice cream from the many vendors who would park their ice cream carts within the temple premises to watch the colourful ceremonies that would be going on.
As I grew up, the ritual of going to the temple didn’t change. Every year it would be even more wonderful than the previous year. I must say a big kudos to the East Africa Ramgarhia Board who handle the entire celebration with the Ramgarhia Youth Association and not forgetting the backbone of them all, the Istri Sabhah. Together, this wonderful team of volunteers put together a spectacular and memorable Vaisakhi celebration every year.
The current chair, Manjit Sethi, is a man with a lot of vision for progress and in his tenure he has made huge improvements to the temple together with his very solid team. Keeping up with technology, we now get a text message to inform the congregation of any forthcoming events at the temple, even notifications like which gate to use because of the ongoing road construction on Murang’a Road are well appreciated.
This week, the Gurudwara has been a sight to behold. The floral arrangements inside the hall where the Guru Granth Sahib is being recited are awe-inspiring. I’ve not been able to go daily but have been there a few times and I have been transported into a different world altogether. The décor is so lovely and it is no wonder that Vaisakhi is my favourite celebration of all time. Here’s wishing you and your loved ones a fabulous start to the new beginning and a very Happy Vaisakhi.