Thousands Attend Annual Sikh Celebration in Livingston

March 26, 2007

Author: Scott Jason

Source: Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund/Merced Sun

LIVINGSTON -- Punit Kaur Khalsa marched along Main Street, carrying two polished swords called kirchans to honor the Sikhs who fought for religious freedom.

"I feel that this is my history, and I'm trying to keep it up," said the 17-year-old Hayward resident. "Sikhism is a nonviolent religion, but when it's time to raise the sword, we will."

Khalsa, with thousands of other Sikhs throughout California, marched in Livingston's ninth annual Hola Mohalla parade Sunday afternoon to celebrate their religion with the hope that residents will become more familiar with their culture.

"We aren't Muslims and we aren't terrorists," Khalsa said. "We believe in equality in men and women. We respect everybody."

Hola Mahala, which translates to mock fight, dates back to 1700s, when Sikhs would march town to town demonstrating their fighting skills. Khalsa came with the Bay Area group called Guru Tegh Bahadur Shastar Vidya Dal, which paused through the parade to have mock fights to the beat of war drums.