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More than 75,000 attend Sikh New Year parade

More than 75,000 Sikhs marched through the streets of Toronto Sunday afternoon, organizers said, for the 27th annual Khalsa Day parade and celebration.

The event — which marks Vaisakhi, the Sikh New Year, with traditional music, hymns, prayers, and food served from the langar, a communal kitchen — kicked off at 9 a.m. at Exhibition Place.

The parade followed at 1:15 p.m., heading east on Lake Shore Boulevard West and north on York Street and University Avenue to Nathan Phillips Square for closing ceremonies.

“People come from all over the GTA [and] outside all the way to Windsor, Montreal, Ottawa, some of the bordering towns across New York,” an organizer told 680News. “People come from wide and far.”

Federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak, and Premier Dalton McGuinty are among the government dignitaries attending.

“Every year this square and our streets come alive with brilliant colours, lively music and energy. And the best part of this Khalsa Day celebration is how it brings so many people together. We have thousands marching, praying and celebrating together,” said McGuinty.

“For Ontarians of all faiths, this is a great opportunity to learn a little bit more about the Sikh faith and your rich culture.”

The event has grown since 1986, its inaugural year, when 2,000 people turned out.

Participants were asked to bring non-perishable food for a Daily Bread Food Bank drive.

With files from 680News