Vaisakhi is a dual event for Sikhs worldwide: a harvest festival along with the commemoration of 17th-century events that gave shape to the birth of the Sikh identity. This year, the event is expected to attract over 100,000 people and is supposed to be a cultural celebration.
However, the temple trustee, Satinderpal Singh Gill states that the temple would pay tribute to "shaheeds," or "martyrs." Some of those they intend to honour are the assassins of Indira Gandhi and two other killers dubbed Jinda and Sukha, who gunned down a retired Indian army general. Photos of these killers have already been on display at the stage put up in the temple parking lot in readiness for Vaisakhi.
Also, a tent has been erected containing photos of mutilated bodies said to be victims of Indian government "Sikh genocide."
The temple's president, Sudager Singh Sandhu has openly defended portraying Air India bombing mastermind Talwinder Singh Parmar as a marty with the excuse that it's no different from Christians putting up a picture of Jesus Christ in a church.
At last year's event, some in the crowd wore clothing bearing the logo of the terrorist group ISYF (The International Sikh Youth Federation), which has been listed by the US State Dept's annual Patterns of Global Terrorism, in 1999, as an active terrorist organization that aspires to carve out of Indian territory an independent Sikh state called Khalistan.
MLA Dave Hayer stated that "we should not be showing any support for any criminal, any terrorist, any person that promotes hate or violence."...We can celebrate peace, harmony, respect and democracy in our culture and our religion without showing killers as heroes." (Vancouver Sun, Apr.11, pgA7)
Other parades being held in Abbotsford (April 13) and Vancouver (April 19) will not include these controversial images. I wonder why the organizers in Surrey insist on making this cultural event a political statement.