Sikh community celebrates Vaisakhi in 100 Mile

A mixture of milk and water is poured on the flagpole before hoisting the flat during the Vaisakhi celebration at the 100 Mile Gurdwara Sahib Saturday. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)A mixture of milk and water is poured on the flagpole before hoisting the flat during the Vaisakhi celebration at the 100 Mile Gurdwara Sahib Saturday. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Mewa Kula, left, along with Piara Singh Kular and Inderjit Bhogal prepare the flag pole at the 100 Mile Gurdwara Sahib during Vaisakhi celebrations. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)Mewa Kula, left, along with Piara Singh Kular and Inderjit Bhogal prepare the flag pole at the 100 Mile Gurdwara Sahib during Vaisakhi celebrations. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Women dry the flagpole ahead during Vaisakhi celebrations in 100 Mile House Saturday. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)Women dry the flagpole ahead during Vaisakhi celebrations in 100 Mile House Saturday. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Surinder Singh Chauhan prepares the flag pole at the 100 Mile Gurdwara Sahib. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)Surinder Singh Chauhan prepares the flag pole at the 100 Mile Gurdwara Sahib. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Participants enjoy traditional Indian food and pizza at the Vaisakhi celebration in 100 Mile House Saturday, May 7. (Kelly Sinoski photo -100 Mile Free Press).Participants enjoy traditional Indian food and pizza at the Vaisakhi celebration in 100 Mile House Saturday, May 7. (Kelly Sinoski photo -100 Mile Free Press).
Gurdip Singh Chauhan reads the Guru Granth Sahib Ji at the 100 Guru Nanak Sikh Temple Sunday (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)Gurdip Singh Chauhan reads the Guru Granth Sahib Ji at the 100 Guru Nanak Sikh Temple Sunday (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Sikhs gather at the 100 Guru Nanak Sikh Temple Sunday for the reading of the holy book. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)Sikhs gather at the 100 Guru Nanak Sikh Temple Sunday for the reading of the holy book. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Sikhs gather at the 100 Guru Nanak Sikh Temple Sunday for the reading of the holy book. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)Sikhs gather at the 100 Guru Nanak Sikh Temple Sunday for the reading of the holy book. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Sukdev Singh. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)Sukdev Singh. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Gurdip Singh Chauhan reads the Guru Granth Sahib Ji at the 100 Guru Nanak Sikh Temple Sunday while two others change the cloth. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)Gurdip Singh Chauhan reads the Guru Granth Sahib Ji at the 100 Guru Nanak Sikh Temple Sunday while two others change the cloth. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Mehar Singh, left, Anand Singh and Hammet Singh sang during the raising of the flag at the Guru Nanak Sikh Temple in 100 Mile House Saturday. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)Mehar Singh, left, Anand Singh and Hammet Singh sang during the raising of the flag at the Guru Nanak Sikh Temple in 100 Mile House Saturday. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Gurdip Singh Chauhan reads the Guru Granth Sahib Ji at the 100 Mile Gurdwara Sahib Sunday (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)Gurdip Singh Chauhan reads the Guru Granth Sahib Ji at the 100 Mile Gurdwara Sahib Sunday (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Gurdip Singh Chauhan reads the Guru Granth Sahib Ji at the 100 Guru Nanak Sikh Temple Sunday (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)Gurdip Singh Chauhan reads the Guru Granth Sahib Ji at the 100 Guru Nanak Sikh Temple Sunday (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Surinder Singh Chauhan cleans the flag pole at the 100 Mile Guru Nanak Sikh Temple. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)Surinder Singh Chauhan cleans the flag pole at the 100 Mile Guru Nanak Sikh Temple. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Rani Mudhar, left, and Sawarn Kamoh wrap the flag pole with orange cloth. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)Rani Mudhar, left, and Sawarn Kamoh wrap the flag pole with orange cloth. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Local politicians celebrated Vaisakhi Saturday with local Sikhs at the 100 Mile temple on Blackstock Road. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)Local politicians celebrated Vaisakhi Saturday with local Sikhs at the 100 Mile temple on Blackstock Road. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Jaswinder Singh Panu helps wrap the flagpole in orange cloth. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)Jaswinder Singh Panu helps wrap the flagpole in orange cloth. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
A.J. Singh , left, chats with Lorne Doerkson, while Mayor Mitch Campsall and Coun. Ralph Fossum look wait for the flag-raising. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)A.J. Singh , left, chats with Lorne Doerkson, while Mayor Mitch Campsall and Coun. Ralph Fossum look wait for the flag-raising. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
L-r: Gurlal Mudhar, Jairaj Bali, Wyatt Caouette, Sonam Nijjar, Pawan Nijjar, Karina Nijjar and Amaryn Nijjar said they enjoyed the Vaisakhi celebrations. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press).L-r: Gurlal Mudhar, Jairaj Bali, Wyatt Caouette, Sonam Nijjar, Pawan Nijjar, Karina Nijjar and Amaryn Nijjar said they enjoyed the Vaisakhi celebrations. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press).
Rani Mudhar, front left, Jasvair Nijjar, Sundeep Kaur, Kulvir Nijjar, Jyoti Bali, Harpreet Kaur, Brab Chhina and Rajveeer Kaur (back left). (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)Rani Mudhar, front left, Jasvair Nijjar, Sundeep Kaur, Kulvir Nijjar, Jyoti Bali, Harpreet Kaur, Brab Chhina and Rajveeer Kaur (back left). (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Evelyn Flora, left, and Sargun Maan at the 100 Mile Vaisakhi celebrations. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Evelyn Flora, left, and Sargun Maan at the 100 Mile Vaisakhi celebrations. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)Evelyn Flora, left, and Sargun Maan at the 100 Mile Vaisakhi celebrations. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press) Evelyn Flora, left, and Sargun Maan at the 100 Mile Vaisakhi celebrations. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Hammet Singh Chauhan, Anand Kaur Chauhan, Sevak Singh Chauhan, and Mehar Singh Chauhan, of Surrey, performed “Kirtan” which is singing holy hymns alongside musical instruments. (A.J. Singh photo - submitted).Hammet Singh Chauhan, Anand Kaur Chauhan, Sevak Singh Chauhan, and Mehar Singh Chauhan, of Surrey, performed “Kirtan” which is singing holy hymns alongside musical instruments. (A.J. Singh photo - submitted).
Women dry the flagpole ahead during Vaisakhi celebrations in 100 Mile House Saturday. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)Women dry the flagpole ahead during Vaisakhi celebrations in 100 Mile House Saturday. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Women dry the flagpole ahead during Vaisakhi celebrations in 100 Mile House Saturday. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Women dry the flagpole ahead during Vaisakhi celebrations in 100 Mile House Saturday. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)Women dry the flagpole ahead during Vaisakhi celebrations in 100 Mile House Saturday. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press) Women dry the flagpole ahead during Vaisakhi celebrations in 100 Mile House Saturday. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Mewa Kula, left, along with Piara Singh Kular prepare the flag pole at the 100 Mile Gurdwara Sahib during Vaisakhi celebrations. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)Mewa Kula, left, along with Piara Singh Kular prepare the flag pole at the 100 Mile Gurdwara Sahib during Vaisakhi celebrations. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
A mixture of milk and water is poured on the flagpole before hoisting the flat during the Vaisakhi celebration at the 100 Mile Gurdwara Sahib Saturday. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)A mixture of milk and water is poured on the flagpole before hoisting the flat during the Vaisakhi celebration at the 100 Mile Gurdwara Sahib Saturday. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Women dry the flagpole ahead during Vaisakhi celebrations in 100 Mile House Saturday. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)Women dry the flagpole ahead during Vaisakhi celebrations in 100 Mile House Saturday. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Women clean the flagpole ahead during Vaisakhi celebrations in 100 Mile House Saturday. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)Women clean the flagpole ahead during Vaisakhi celebrations in 100 Mile House Saturday. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

Sikhs gathered at the 100 Mile Gurdwara Sahib last weekend to hoist their flag and celebrate Vaisakhi for the first time in two years.

Dozens of people came from the South Cariboo, Surrey and Vancouver for the event, which marks the Sikh new year and the birth of Khalsa under Guru Gobind Singh in 1699.

“Everyone was waiting for this day,” said Jyoti Bali, who previously lived in 103 Mile but now lives in Langley. “It’s exciting. After two years, we are getting together. Before, our temple was closed.”

The celebrations began Friday with the reading of the Guru Granth Sahib Jiholy book, which continued in two-hour increments throughout the weekend. On Saturday, women had been bustling since 5 a.m. making special Pakora – deep-fried Indian fritters – and constantly refilling trays of sweets and treats and urns of rich, creamy Chai tea.

Other people sat cross-legged on the floor, eating and catching up. At one point, pizza arrived – courtesy of the Indian owners of Canadian 2-for-1.

“We got lots to eat. It’s a free kitchen,” said Sonny Mudhar, president of the 100 Mile House Sikh Society since 1972. “Everybody is invited.”

In the afternoon, people sang and prayed, as others purified the flagpole with milk and water as a sign of respect before wrapping it in orange silk cloth and hoisting the Nishan Sahib, a triangular orange flag that signifies the temple is open as a safe haven.

Palvinder Kular, who grew up in 100 Mile House but left in 2009 for Vancouver, said the temple has a special place in his heart.

“You can’t always find a place to worship in such a small community and we’re lucky to have this,” he said, adding the community is like family. “It’s not just within the Sikh community, the whole town of 100 Mile is like a family, too, if you live here long enough. It’s like a family within a family. It’s very uplifting.”

Mudhar said he was happy to see the crowds Saturday. Built in 1979, the temple on Blackstock Road had once hosted 60 families, and was instrumental in setting up the World Sikh Organization. The numbers had declined to just 13 a few years ago but have since risen to 30 families and individuals.

The increasing population, due in part to more Indian people coming to the area to study or buy businesses, means more money for the temple, which also received a new sign last weekend – the last one was misspelled – and a live-in caretaker.

Mudhar noted that for years they didn’t even raise a flag – they just painted the pole – because they were worried someone would light it on fire. The temple had been vandalized in the 1990s.

“I think we feel safe now,” Mudhar said. “I’m really glad we restarted it, and we are in a really good position. Before it was a struggle. With no members, where are you going to get the money from?”

AJ Singh, who started a trucking company in 70 Mile House a few years ago, said many people from the Punjabi Indian community are moving to 100 Mile “from all over the place,” including Thailand, Australia and New Zealand “because they love the small-town vibe.

“It’s more affordable than larger cities and it’s a close-knit community, everyone knows each other.”

He said renovations are now underway at the temple, including new windows, doors, paint, LED lighting, heating systems, a new kitchen and cabinets, and new flooring, among other things. The work is estimated to cost $75,000.

Harkamal Maan, who has several businesses in town, said the temple – and events like Vaisakhi – provide great exposure for their children.

“We live in 100 Mile so there is not a lot of Sikh community, there is only a handful of us,” he said. “We’re trying to revive this temple so the kids can come here, know what the history is.”

100 Mile Mayor Mitch Campsall, who attended the celebration with Couns. Maureen Pinkney and Ralph Fossum and MLA Lorne Doerkson, said it was the first time he had been at a Vaisakhi celebration. He particularly liked the information about the Sikhs’ contributions in the first and second world wars.

“They’ve been very welcoming,” he said. “I’m enjoying it.”

Bali, who still has a home in 103 Mile, said they all worked together to provide the celebrations. Local women had been making sweets since Monday, and she joined them at 5 a.m. every day after she arrived.

“We like the people here and we like the place here,” she said. “We miss it so much. This is our family here.”

The temple is open every day, from 6 a.m. and Sundays 10 a.m.-12 p.m. Food is served on Sundays and special events, but anyone who drops by will be offered something to eat. The temple also has a YouTube link for livestreaming special events.



kelly.sinoski@100milefreepress.net

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