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Sikh Parade scheduled this weekend

LIVINGSTON — Sikh residents are preparing for the annual parade that celebrates their heritage and teaches those unfamiliar with it.

Who will show up and what’ll be on exhibit Sunday is anyone’s guess.

“It’s organized chaos,” said Gurpal Samra, the event’s coordinator and the city’s mayor. “I don’t know what we’ll get until the night before.”

Last year, a Los Angeles temple for non-India-born Sikhs entered a float. Also, sword fighters showed up from the Bay Area.

The event, beginning at noon Sunday, draws more than 3,000 people from the Central Valley and Bay Area.

Livingston’s tenth Hola Mohalla parade celebrates the Sikh religion, a tradition that helps other residents become more familiar with their culture.

“It’s a learning affair,” Samra said. “We have quite a few people who have attended and never have turned away or been unhappy.”

Hola Mahala, which translates to mock fight, dates back to the 1700s, when Sikhs would march town to town, demonstrating their fighting skills.

The parade will start at the Sikh Temple at 2765 Peach St., weave along Main Street to the Guru Nanak Temple on B Street. It will then turn around and head back to the start.

Featured will be music, floats and free vegetarian food, such as fried vegetables and India tortillas,n as well as drinks provided to the participants and spectators, Samra noted.

The custom originated in the time of Guru Gobind Singh who held the first mock fights at Anandpur Sahib in 1701.

The parade is led by the Merced County Sheriff’s horses unit, reminiscent of Granth Sahib, a Sikh guru often portrayed on horseback.

A group of Sikhs sweeps the streets in front of the procession for their Bible, called Shri Guru Granth Sahib, so that it will pass over clean ground in a sign of honor.

For more information call Samra at (209) 756-7114.