DENVER: The capital of Colorado, Denver city will be hosting its first ever Sikh parade on May 22, in celebration of the culture of the growing population of Sikhs in the area. Around 1,000 people are expected to attend the event, including 500 Sikh families in the Denver area, Christian and Jewish Pastors and seven other Sikh groups from the areas of Colorado Springs, Boulder, New Mexico, California and Utah.
Sponsored by the Colorado Singh Sabha temple in Commerce City, the celebrations for the Sikh parade would begin from 9:30 am and culminate at 4 pm at the Denver East High School while free vegetarian food will be available throughout the day. The morning would begin with prayers and music with the parade starting at 1:15 pm.
Organizers Paul and Gurpreet Juneja were inspired to increase awareness and celebrate their culture, specially after their kids faced bullying at school after being mistaken for Muslims.
“We hope it will bring more awareness and be well received,” Gurpeet Juneja said to Denver Post. “Our kids don’t feel different than other kids until they are treated badly at school.”
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Despite Gurpreet Juneja immigrating to the United States and Paul Juneja and their two children having been born in US itself, Gurpreet said she and her family had still faced circumstances where they were insulted and told to leave the country.
According to Paul, “This whole thing is being done because of our kids,” adding that “We’re through being a victim and want to take the lead.”
When the Junejas approached Denver city officials about holding an event to increase awareness about Sikhism, a parade seemed the best option.
A spokesperson of the city’s office of special events, said “We work closely with city agencies to promote events that bring greater awareness to cultures in our communities.”
In New York the Sikh Cultural Society celebrates the cultural identity of Sikhs through the annual Sikh Day Parade, bringing together believers from gurudwara congregations across the state. The largest procession of Sikhs outside India however, can be seen in Canada, during the annual Khalsa Day Parade.
Although the adherents of the Sikh faith are often identified as those wearing turbans, Sikhism is the 7th largest religion of the world with around 23 million followers, according to United Sikhs, an UN-affiliated international non-profit organization. The largest concentration of Sikhs is located in India, from where the religion originated, followed by United Kingdom and then United States.
What: Denver’s first Sikh parade
When: 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. Sunday, May 22
Where: Denver East High School, 1600 City Park Esplanade