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‘My heart is overflowing with joy’: Thousands celebrate Nagar Kirtan in Winnipeg

Thousands gathered in downtown Winnipeg Sunday for the annual Sikh celebration of Nagar Kirtan.

Organizers estimate close to 20,000 people took part in the parade through the city’s core, many dressed in colourful clothing and carrying flags. The Sikh Society of Manitoba and other community organizations decorated floats, and there were musical and dancing performances throughout.

Members of the Sikh Motorcycle Club roared their Harleys through the downtown streets as thousands walked alongside them.

Russel Singh Khalsa was there demonstrating Gatka, a Sikh sword fighting technique that he says is a bit like fencing.

“I think Gatka’s just a little cooler,” said Khalsa. “The idea that you’re spinning a sword, you’re kind of creating a force field, its very Star Wars-y to me.”

Khalsa said the art of Gatka has become very meaningful to him, especially knowing that it is a real part of Sikh history.

“Gatka is spinning, movements. It’s a moving, flowing, fighting style,” he said.

Nagar Kirtan is celebrated by the Sikh community around the world. The event commemorates the anniversary of the installation of the Granth Sahib, or the Sikh scriptures.

After the parade, many remained downtown in Memorial Park to enjoy food, music, and more cultural celebration.

Khalsa said Sikhism has changed his life. “It’s a beautiful community, it’s a very warm community, it’s a very inviting community,” he said. “My heart is overflowing with joy.”

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