By Velena Jones

YUBA CITY (CBS13) — Tens of thousands of people are converging on Yuba City this weekend for the 42nd Nagar Kirtan, one of the region’s biggest events for the Sikh community.

Prayers among tens of thousands of people is a sound the Sikh community has been waiting to hear.

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Last year’s celebrations were canceled due to the pandemic, making this weekend’s occurrence of the festival mean even more.

“When everyone gathers together, it feels like we are at home with everyone. And because of COVID this year, it just feels so special and different,” explained Harlen Sidhu from Yuba City.

COVID precautions include dozens of tents spaced out, large monitors to watch prayers from outside to avoid overcrowding, sanitation stations and a health clinic offering vaccinations.

“We are keeping it open, we are spreading it out, it’s over 4.5 miles,” explained Sarbjit Singh Thiara, the Sikh Temple board president in the city.

The three-day event celebrates religion, culture and community with 72 hours of continuous prayer, traditional shops and free food — all in the hope to share love with others.

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“We are inviting everyone to come. The world we are living in right now, that way we can all heal and move forward,” said

For parents like Manjid Maheru, it’s a tradition he is passing on to his son.

“We come here so we can stay with our roots,” said Maheru. “I’m born in India and he is born here and I want him to adopt Sikhism so he can learn what it is.”

Day one ended in fireworks, sparking joy in families already planning for next year.

“It’s just really nice to be here. You kind of miss it and you already look forward to next year,” said Gurjit Mann.

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Saturday, the festival will have a flag ceremony. Sunday, 100,000 people alone are expected for the parade that will start at the temple and travel through Yuba City.