Yuba-Sutter’s largest single event – the annual Nagar Kirtan or Sikh parade and festival – has been called off due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The event that draws as many as 100,000 spectators and participants was scheduled for the weekend of Nov. 1.
Jaswant S. Bains, president of the Sikh Temple on Tierra Buena Road in Yuba City, referred questions about the event to their attorney, Michael Barrette, who had composed a letter explaining the Temple’s position.
He wrote in the letter that the decision was made due to their inability to maintain such large crowds at acceptable social distances.
“The Temple faces the potential for great liability, both criminally and civilly, if it disobeys orders designed by health officials to protect the general population,” Barrette wrote in the letter. “Rest assured, this decision is not made lightly. Nagar Kirtan is one of our most treasured opportunities for the Temple to share its wonderful religion with our city and the rest of the world.
“The community outreach of united dedication to peaceful times and brotherhood of all, across all religious beliefs, are ideas the Temple holds central to its faith.”
He noted that social distancing was vital in preventing the further spread of the disease and that could not be accomplished except by the voluntary cooperation of all persons involved.
“Sikh Temple, Gurdwara, Yuba City is dedicated to the concept of freedom of religion and sharing of religious dogmas and ideologies with others,” Barrette wrote. “In whatever manner we choose to carry out our message, we must remember that religious freedom is always subject to the necessities of a situation that dictate and guide our response.
“A large gathering with potentially over 100,000 people along a very crowded parade route is the very thing our health officials tell us endangers too many lives and causes us to bear too great a risk.”
He wrote that they remain committed to keeping the tradition alive next year when the pandemic is hopefully resolved.