Ever heard of Nagar Kirtan? This Punjabi term loosely translates into singing holy hymns in the neighbourhood. The concept is to bring the message of God to the community’s doorstep and events of this nature are especially popular during the month of Vaisakhi (Sikh New Year).
Nagar Kirtan involves a procession led by the Panj Pyare (a collective name for five beloved Sikh men) and a float carrying the Guru Granth Sahib (Sikh holy book) surrounded by sewadars (volunteers) attending to them and singing holy hymns. Big celebrations like this take place around the world and BC’s own Nagar Kirtan events in Surrey always stand out as the largest gathering of their kind outside of India.
In 2019, Surrey’s Vaisakhi event drew over 500,000 people including visitors from across Canada and the USA. With half a million people in the streets enjoying the procession of floats, musicians, dancers, and food, traffic management is complicated and cannot be taken lightly. Luckily, the Universal Group is always up for the task of managing traffic for special events.
Most recently, a Nagar Kirtan event took place in Surrey on November 9th. The procession began and ended at the Gurdwara Dukh Nivaran Sahib temple on 68th Avenue initially heading west on 68th Avenue to 148th Street, north on 148th Street to 71A Avenue, east on 71A Avenue to 150th Street, and south on 150 Street to 68th Avenue before turning east on 68th Avenue to head back to the temple.
Anyone familiar with the City of Surrey understands that these are not the easiest roads on which to implement traffic restrictions for an event that lasts from about 9 AM to about 3 PM. Road closures, traffic disruptions, restricted access, and temporary parking restrictions can all be expected. In fact, traffic management plans detailing these are usually started six months before in order to ensure site access points remain as safe as possible; residential access and egress during the procession are safely mitigated; pedestrian safety is maintained along the roadways; event impacts are minimized.
Universal Group’s traffic management planning department estimates the most recent event necessitated that around 80 traffic management plans be submitted to the City. They included eight stages of street closures on four major intersections. Universal traffic services designated over 40 flaggers, three supervisors, and two traffic managers to implement the traffic management plans. The traffic managers joined police, fire, medics, security, and City staff (including event, engineering, bylaws, and risk analysis staff) at an event command post where they monitored live footage of each intersection on TVs.
Temporary advisory signage was installed five days prior to the event and Universal’s flaggers followed detailed sectional directions as traffic control needs varied depending on the procession’s position. Instructions also included cultural considerations in order to maintain a respectful atmosphere during the event. For example, flaggers were advised on proper radio etiquette, prohibited from smoking, and asked to cover their heads as mandated by Sikh values.
The event went on without a glitch and Universal Group’s traffic services were proud to contribute to its success.
Until next time!