YUBA CITY -- After a month’s worth of preparation, the Sikh community in Sutter County is putting the finishing touches on its annual parade and festival that will draw up to 100,000 visitors to Yuba City.
The Sikh temple on Tierra Buena Road was awash in activity and temporary tents on the eve of one of the biggest gatherings of Sikhs outside Asia.
On the first Sunday in November, the religious group, which originated in the state of Punjab in India, will celebrate the first installation of the religion’s scriptures with a grand parade.
Local Sikhs settled in the area at the turn of the century and the festival was first held in Yuba City 39 years ago. Now thousands from far and wide attend the event.
"A lot of people come from England, Chicago, Canada, all over the world. This is the big one right here in California," said event volunteer Santokh Sandher.
Dr. Harjinder Singh brought the staff from his medical office to the temple Thursday for a sneak preview before the big crowds came. He said the event is managed well, considering crowds of up to 100,000 for the Sunday parade.
"They keep on improving, every time they see a problem they try to improve every year," Singh said.
Acres of vendor tents were being prepared for the marketplace on the grounds and hundreds of restrooms were at the ready along Sunday’s 4-mile parade route.
While it is primarily a religious celebration for the Sikh community, it is also one in which hospitality and food play a major role.
Half a dozen large kitchens were set up and people have been preparing food for the past week. The entire community chips in to help with the fare.
"Friends, everybody, relatives, all the community coming together to support us. That’s why we do that," Sandher said.
Whether it’s volunteer labor or donations that bring in tons of food and supplies, the Sikh community was determined to honor their tradition of hospitality, even it means feeding tens of thousands of festival visitors.
"It’s all free," said volunteer Narinder Singh. "Everybody, it doesn’t matter, it isn’t only for the Sikh community, it's for everyone."
Part of the festival is educational and includes tours of the temple and lectures that explain the Sikh religion.
A large part of the festival is just getting together and having a good time with friends and neighbors.
Festivalgoers began arriving Thursday. Friday night a fireworks display is scheduled. The festival’s highlight will be the parade on Sunday, which will draw the biggest crowds.