Toronto, April 19 (IANS) Top leaders in Canada’s Ontario province led by Premier Kathleen Wynne joined the Sikh community in celebrating Baisakhi at the Ontario legislative assembly.
For the first time, the Sikh holy book Guru Granth Sahib was brought to the assembly here on Monday to celebrate Baisakhi and the Sikh Heritage Month.
Wynne and her cabinet ministers joined the Sikhs as ‘kirtan’ was performed and prayers recited to mark the birthday of the Khalsa in April 1699.
The Sikh community’s saffron flag Nishan Sahib was also hoisted outside the assembly building to mark the day.
“It is the first time in the history of Ontario that the holy Guru Granth Sahib has been brought inside the legislative assembly building, and the Sikh flag Nishan Sahib installed to mark Baisakhi day.
“It is a proud day for Sikhs in Canada,” said Indian-Canadian politician and former Ontario transportation minister Harinder Takhar at the Baisakhi reception at the assembly building Queen’s Park.
Baisakhi is the harvest festival of Punjab, which also marks the Punjabi new year.
Dressed in salwar-kameez and with her head covered, Premier Wynne praised the Sikh community for integrating into Canada’s multicultural society while still maintaining its rich heritage.
She said she was very happy that the Sikh holy scripture was brought to the assembly for the first time and it created an atmosphere of peace inside the house.
Such events “should happen more often” to create an atmosphere of peace and harmony so that more productive work can be done by assembly members.
Wynne, who visited India in February, stressed that her visit was as much about promoting business as connecting with people.
She lauded the hospitality and warmth extended to her wherever she went in India.
Recalling her visit to the Golden Temple in Amritsar, she said it was a very beautiful and serene place.
She said she was overwhelmed by the sense of volunteerism at the Golden Temple.
In a lighter vein, she said India was a place where so much news happens and travels very quickly.
“There are so many newspapers I wonder how they read them all,” she said.
As her picture of making chapatis at the langar (community kitchen) at the Golden Temple was splashed in the media across India, she said wherever she went after that, people would say: “You were the one who was making chapatis.”
The Ontario premier praised the decision of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to apologise for the Komagata Maru event of 1914 to rectify past mistakes.
She said her own party legislator Vic Dhillon will move a motion in the Ontario assembly on the Komagata Maru apology and ensure that no future immigrants are ever discriminated against in Canada.
(Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at [email protected])