By Colleen Flanagan, The Maple Ridge – Pitt Meadows News
The Indian harvest festival of Vaisakhi was celebrated at a Maple Ridge elementary school with a display of bhangra dancing.
Nine students at Fairview Elementary got up in front of the school last week and demonstrated the dance – some dancing it for the first time – while teaching the students gathered for the assembly about the holiday celebrated April 13 or 14, depending on the solar calendar.
“Vaisakhi is a harvesting spring celebration,” explained Grade 3 student Keerath Narwal.
“At home we celebrate by eating roti at night time or we sometimes do a dance,” continued Manjot Dulay, a Grade 6 student at the school.
“And we do some fireworks probably,” added Narwal, almost overtop.
The students were excited to show off their culture, explained English Language Learner teacher Harjit Chauhan.
Similar to Thanksgiving, Chauhan noted, Vaisakhi is a time to enjoy the season’s long harvest and celebrate with family and community by visiting the gurdwara or Sikh temple, and joining a community parade – the largest locally can be found in Surrey or Vancouver.
All celebrations have energetic bhangra dancing, continued Chauhan. The traditional folk dance originated from farmers in Punjab, India centuries ago when they celebrated the end of the winter harvest, and welcomed in the the spring. It was during these times that people would play the dhol – a two-sided Indian drum that is played with sticks.