Sikhs march to promote a message of faith and equality in D.C.

May 7 saw the second annual Vaisakhi Sikh Day Parade take place in Washington D.C. The Sikh community from across Virginia, Pennsylvania, and D.C. itself came together to celebrate their shared heritage, culminating in a large procession down Constitution Avenue.

There was a distinct message of Americanness within the parade, as messages proclaiming the Sikhs faith were interspersed with American flags to show how they form an often unnoticed, but integral part of the nation. At the front of the parade, several Sikhs carried a large banner which read: “One God, One Human Family, Respect All Religions.” This message seems to have struck a chord with D.C. residents, many of whom could be seen taking pictures of this banner.

The parade was also a chance for Sikhs to declare solidarity with those struggling for equality, as they carried banners sporting such messages as “Sikhs stand for Gender Equality” and “Sikhs for Racial Equality.”

The parade was made possible by the cooperation of many smaller groups of Sikhs across the region pooling their resources. Every Gurdwara, or congregation, had held fundraising efforts to go towards the organization of the parade, and many amenities, from food and drink to sound systems, were provided by Sikh-owned companies wanting to give something back to their community.

And for those not part of the Sikh faith, a specially put together flyer explaining various aspects of the religion was made available, so that everyone could join in the celebrations and bring increased awareness to this often marginalized group.

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