Last week, hundreds of Regina-based Sikhs held its first ever Sikh parade which received a lot of publicity and interest. It was truly a spectacle few residents of the city had seen before. The main parade float, decorated in rose petals, carried the Guru Granth Sahib and the crowds sang kirtans during the two-kilometre walk to the Legislature.
Speaking to Can-India from Regina, Nirmal Maur, President of the Sikh Society of Regina said the Sikh and the general South Asian community has been growing phenomenally over the past few years. “I have been in Regina since 1992 when there were no more than 60 families in the city. Today there are close to 600 families and hundreds of students who have moved here to study and work,” he said.
Up until 2013, prayers happened in people’s homes or in rented premises. The Sikh Society of Regina then purchased a decommissioned school building sitting on a 5 acre plot which they refurbished at considerable expense.
“We purchased the property for $2.5 million, had to replace the roof, spend a lot to make a commercial kitchen and extend the langar hall. But still it doesn’t seem to be enough for a growing congregation,” he said.
Today the biggest challenge facing the Sikh Society of Regina is fund-raising to create more facilities in order to expand the number of activities for the community. At the top of the agenda is creating a proper parking lot and possibly a residential option for senior Sikhs. “We would like to also create space for seniors who would like to spend the day here. For children, we already hold classes to teach them Punjabi and acquaint them with the faith,” he says.
But even before a small residential complex for seniors is drawn up, an immediate need is converting part of the open grounds into a proper parking lot. And funds are expected to start flowing as Regina with its plentiful jobs and reasonably priced homes is attracting a growing number of Toronto transplants. – CINEWS