Prince Albert hosts first Vaisakhi Mela to recognize Sikh festival

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald Dancers kicked off the first Vaisakhi Mela in Prince Albert at the EA Rawlinson Centre on Friday night.

For the first time in Prince Albert’s history, residents gather to celebrate a significant festival for Sikh culture.

Hundreds of people from around the province gathered at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre on Friday to celebrate Vaisakhi Mela—a spring harvest festival celebrated in Punjab and parts of Northern India that is traditionally marked on April 14.

According to event host Hargun Singh of Akaal Entertainment, the festival marks a change of season and the beginning of new crops and turns the calendar on another year.

“It’s a kind of new year for our Sikh community and one for the 10th Guru, Guru Gobind Singh. He invented a new culture called Khalsa for us and it’s a kind of a change of a season in our province, Punjab,” Singh explained.

“We’ll try to continue (celebrating) Vaisakhi every year in Prince Albert so everyone in Prince Albert knows what Vaisakhi means,” Singh added.

Traditionally, the festival marks the time farmers in northern India change the type of crops they grow. During the summer, rice is the dominant plant.

As well, Vaisakhi also observes many significant events in the history of Sikhism, including the birth of the Khalsa order by Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru of Sikhism in 1699. Gobind Singh was the last human guru of the Sikh faith as he passed on the religion’s

teachings to the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh scriptures.

“It’s a really big festival for the community, and in Canada, all of April is considered a Sikh Heritage Month by the Government of Canada,” Singh explained. “They celebrate it everywhere like in Vancouver and Toronto, big cities, so this is the first time we are celebrating in Saskatchewan and a small city Prince Albert.”

Singh said that they expected people from all over Saskatchewan to attend.

“We have already got people from Saskatoon, Regina, Meadow Lake, Melfort, everywhere,” he said.

He added that the Sikh community is growing and this allows them all to meet under one roof.

“That’s a good thing that we interact with everyone,” Singh said.

The event opened with greetings from Prince Albert Mayor Greg Dionne, Prince Albert Northcote MLA Alana Ross and Prince Albert Police Chief Patrick Nogier. They then presented plaques to the numerous sponsors of the event.

The event opened with a traditional dance performance before the main act. Singh said they were also excited to have Indian pop music start Prabh Gill perform.

He explained that an event like this also been good for Prince Albert.

“It’s a kind of good boon for businesses as well. People coming from all over the province,

they’re going to spend money here, right? They going to eat food…. We’re contributing to the economy.”

Singh said as far as future events go they had no solid plans.

“It is all because of sponsors like all the businesses from Prince Albert and Saskatoon and Regina sponsors,” he said.

Hargun Singh and partner Parmaveer Singh of Akaal Entertainment hosted similar events under their old company name. The list includes Diwali Mela, the Hindu festival of lights, which was held for the first time in Prince Albert in October 2023. The company has changed names because it is now officially registered.

“In future, we’re going to do more events,” he said.