Event organizers and volunteers estimated over 200,000 people attended the 40th Sikh Festival and parade over the course of last week, describing it as the largest event in its history.
Board member Karm Bains said he met people from Greece, Germany and all over the country all week.
The parade known as Nagar Kirtan, or Holy Stroll, Bains said, brings everyone in the community together.
“This is not just for the Sikhs, it’s for the Yuba-Sutter community,” Bains said. “We’re a hospitable group (Sikh culture) and we instill that in everybody that participates.”
There were a number of volunteers, including many children out early Monday morning, cleaning up for the largest festival of all-time.
The clean-up phase can take up to eight to 10 hours and is broken down into different phases. There were volunteers under the tents in the kitchen washing dishes, as well as individuals hauling stuff away on folk lifts, and children sweeping trash out from under big rig truck trailers.
Bains called the cleaning phase of the festival “sewa,” which is a selfless service in the Sikh or Hindu practice.
“Everybody is volunteering to clean-up the mess,” Bains said. “It’s a collaborative effort with everyone working together to put Yuba City on the map. It’s beautiful to see.”
As predicted, Bains said all the hotels were booked so he met individuals staying as far as south of Sacramento just to come to the Sikh Festival and parade.
This year’s event had special meaning given that it was the 40th year of the parade, 50th anniversary of the temple and 550th birthday of Guru Nanak, who was the founder of Sikhism.
“This is the big one,” Santokh Sandher said.
Sandher was stationed under the tents most of the morning on Monday working to clean the dishes. He said they started about 8 a.m. and would take about 8-10 hours to fully clean everything.
Due to the circumstances of this year’s Sikh Festival, Sandher said he and his family went all out to prepare for the festivities.
“We’re serving the people,” Daljit Singh said. “It’s our duty and responsibility to be focused on what to do ... We have to clean and pack.”
Following the festival, organizers say the temple will remain open 24 hours a day for the general public.