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Vaisakhi Celebrations At Queenborough Middle School Where Punjabi Is Taught By Deep Singh Sangra

By Balwant Sanghera

NEW WESTMINSTER – April/May are the months of Vaisakhi celebration around the globe. Here in the Metro Vancouver area, Vaisakhi as well as the birth of the Khalsa are some of the major highlights for the Indo-Canadian community. Every year, Vaisakhi and birth of the Khalsa are celebrated in Vancouver and Surrey with great enthusiasm. These celebrations are a great reflection of our community’s growth and generosity.

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In addition to these two major celebrations, Vaisakhi is also celebrated around the Metro Vancouver area by various Gurdwaras, organizations and schools. Take for example the Queeensborough Middle School (QMS) in New Westminster.

 

As a result of efforts by the Punjabi Language Education Association (PLEA) Punjabi classes have been under way at QMS for many years. Under the capable leadership of their veteran Punjabi teacher, Mr. Deep Singh Sangra, the students of the Punjabi classes at QMS have been celebrating Vaisakhi for the past several years. This year again they did an excellent job in celebrating Vaisakhi in school on Wednesday, April 11. The whole school was buzzing with Vaisakhi related activities. It was great to see the students greet guests with “Happy Vaisakhi” at the main entrance to the school.

The Punjabi class students did a marvelous job in explaining the significance of Vaisakhi and birth of the Khalsa. They also put on impressive cultural performances before the students, teachers and invited guests. It is always an honour for this writer to be invited to this celebration. This year again the occasion was graced by a number of prominent members of the community including Dr. Gurnam Singh  Sanghera, Rajinder Singh Pandher, Harbhajan Singh Athwal (President of Khalsa Diwan Society, New West) and a large number of parents. Parents and the local Sikh community provided mouthwatering Indo-Canadian refreshments-samosas and sweets- to the invited guests, students and teachers. They also raised $480 to help needy students at the school.

In order to honour the First Nations, the celebration was opened with a prayer and blessings by Mrs. Swanson. MCs Eshnoor and Yasmine did a great job in keeping things flowing smoothly. Jaiden and Mehr took good care of the music. Gurnoor’s tabla performance was excellent. Vaisakhi presentation by Harj, Jovan, Sartaj, Indervir and Harman was quite impressive. So was speech about Vaisakhi by Mansimran. Gunjot, Khushpreet, Harveen, Kajal, Avneet and Jasleen entertained the audience with their Bhangra performance-Patake.They were followed by Peepa Bhangra performance by Harveen, Jasleen, and Zeenat. Neha and Priya recited very lovely poems about Vaisakhi. Gidda performance by Gurveen, Aeshpari, Zeenat, Jasleen, Harveen and Avneet reminded one about Punjab and its very rich folk songs and culture .All in all, the students did an excellent job in emphasizing the importance of Vaisakhi and birthday of the Khalsa.

On their part, the parents did a great job in helping with the refreshments and other related activities. The students and teachers enjoyed delicious samosa and sweets donated by and served by parents. On behalf of Punjabi Language Education Association (PLEA) I would like to congratulate them all for a wonderful celebration.

It is a commendable way of creating more pride amongst students about their cultural heritage in the Canadian context. Programs, activities and gestures like these go a long way in creating a positive image of our community and enhancing opportunities for cross-cultural understanding. The organizers, QMS and the New Westminster School District must be commended for promoting Punjabi and celebrations like this.

 

Balwant Sanghera is the President, Punjabi Language Education Association (PLEA).

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