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Experience Culture in Yuba-Sutter

by Abbey Anderson

Sikh Festival History

Nagar Kirtan is a Sikh festival and religious procession that is celebrated by Sikh communities around the world. In 1980, after seeing a Sikh march in Canada, Didar Singh Bains decided to organize a Sikh parade in his hometown of Yuba City. After some initial pushback, his dream came true, and now the three-day festival held in Yuba City is known for hosting one of the largest Nagar Kirtan celebrations outside of India, regularly drawing crowds of over 100,000 people yearly from all over the United States and as far away as Canada, England, and India. 

Day 1 - November 3rd

The first day of the Sikh festival, when fireworks illuminate the night sky, is a thrilling kickstart to the festivities as the sun sets and families and friends gather in eager anticipation. The night sky erupts in a mesmerizing display of vibrant colors and dazzling lights, creating a breathtaking spectacle that reflects the joy and enthusiasm of the community. The fireworks serve as a joyous symbol of celebration, marking the beginning of a multi-day cultural and spiritual journey. It's a time when the community unites to not only celebrate Sikh traditions but also to create lasting memories, setting the stage for the vibrant and inclusive celebrations that lie ahead.

Day 2 - November 4th

The bazaar at the Sikh Festival in Yuba City is a vibrant and bustling marketplace that adds a delightful touch of tradition and diversity to the festivities. This lively marketplace offers a kaleidoscope of colors, aromas, and unique wares. Visitors can explore a wide array of stalls and vendors, each offering a treasure trove of items that reflect the rich tapestry of Sikh culture. The bazaar is a sensory delight, from intricately designed textiles and traditional Punjabi clothing to exquisite jewelry, handicrafts, and a delectable assortment of Punjabi cuisine. Members of the Sikh community give away between 200,000 and 250,000 free meals to the attendees every year. 
It's a place where one can immerse oneself in the sights, sounds, and flavors of Sikh culture while enjoying the warm hospitality and camaraderie of the Sikh community, making it a memorable part of the Yuba City Sikh Festival experience.

Day 3 - November 5th

The festival ends with a 4.5-mile parade through Yuba City with a float in support of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib leading a procession of floats. The Sikh parade is the dazzling centerpiece of the annual festival, a magnificent display of devotion, unity, and cultural pride. Thousands gather to witness the awe-inspiring spectacle as the Guru Granth Sahib, the sacred scripture of Sikhism, is carried in a resplendent float, gracefully winding its way through the city streets. The atmosphere is electric, filled with the melodious sounds of hymns and prayers, martial arts demonstrations, and vibrant traditional attire. 

Participants, young and old, from all walks of life, come together to celebrate their faith and share its beauty with the broader community. The parade symbolizes Sikh values such as inclusivity, service, and promoting peace and understanding, making it a heartwarming and culturally enriching experience for all who attend.

The Yuba City Sikh Festival is a multi-day event combining spirituality, culture, and community. It's a beautiful celebration of Sikhism and an opportunity for people from all backgrounds to come together and experience the rich traditions and values of the Sikh community.

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