The parade today is the headline event for the 37th annual Yuba City Sikh Festival and Parade, but thousands of people spent Saturday immersed in the Sikh community at the Yuba City Sikh Temple on Tierra Buena Road.

Speakers attracted large crowds to the temple's Dasmesh Hall to listen to prayers, sermons and presentations aimed at educating young Sikhs and non-Sikhs about the religion's history and core beliefs.

The themes touched on community and service, both of which were clear to see out on the temple grounds, across True Road where people shopped in a large bazaar, and along Tierra Buena Road where tents served free food to the people walking from the makeshift parking lot in a nearby field to the temple.

Temple Board of Directors President Jaswant Bains presented plaques to dignitaries who attended the event, including Congressman John Garamendi, Sutter County Sheriff's Deputy Amandeep Singh and elected officials from the Yuba-Sutter area.

Bains thanked them for their work in the community and encouraged them to reach out and listen to the Sikh community and their needs.

Outside Dasmesh Hall, hundreds of Sikhs spent the day in service. Some peeled onions, others served food, and many donated blood.

Volunteers with the Dastaar Project wrapped turbans throughout the day using four different colors of cloth shipped from India. Some turbans were a more traditional religious style, others had more personality.

"We put a turban on kids to let them feel the holiness of wearing the turban inside the temple," said Live Oak Mayor Lakhvir Ghag, whose daughter, Tejinder Ghag, founded the Dastaar Project.

Tejinder Ghag was busy throughout the day managing the constant stream of people filling the five stools at the booth inside the temple grounds. "It's a joyful time," she said. They will be wrapping turbans again today at a booth just southeast of the temple's main hall.

Vannypaul Dhillon, 12, of Yuba City sat on a stool with one end of a six-foot length of cloth in his mouth as Gagandeep Singh meticulously covered his head. Singh is an international student at San Francisco State who is from Ludhiana, Punjab, India.

Long lines emanated from Langar tents distributing free food nearby. Some served traditional dishes from the Punjabi region, others served up French fries. People gathered in dining areas around long plywood tables.

Across True Road from the temple, the large colorful bazaar drew a dense crowd.

Vendors sold religious items, such as the Kara, a metal bracelet that is one of the "Five Ks" items that Sikhs are called to wear. Others had stalls filled with colorful Indian clothing and accessories. Children flocked to tables covered in toys.

Due to the parade, roads around the temple will close around 7 a.m. today. Free shuttle rides from River Valley High to the temple will begin at 8 a.m. and run continuously until 6 p.m., when the roads reopen.

The parade itself will begin at 11 a.m. in front of the temple's main hall. A helicopter will drop flower petals as floats begin to move along the 41⁄2-mile route. One of the floats will hold the Sikh's holy scripture, Guru Granth Sahib.

Due to the large number of people attending, a number often estimated at more than 80,000, anyone planning on attending should plan on heavy traffic.

CONTACT Reporter Kirk Barron at 749-4796.

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