Downstairs, mothers adjusted small girls' head scarves. In the kitchen, people lined up to fill plates with food from steaming aluminum pans.
In another room, families sat on the floor to eat along rugs set in rows parallel to the walls -- except for the oldest guests, who sat on benches, nodding to greet each person who entered.
Upstairs, people prayed. They made an offering of small bills at the front of the room. They bowed, head down, arms stretched forward. Children watched their parents for guidance. People talked softly.
Sunday was Vaisakhi Day, an annual sacred celebration for the Sikhs. Hundreds of people went to the Sikh Centre of Seattle in Bothell, just north of where I-405 crosses the Bothell-Everett Highway. Children played outside. People hugged and ate.
"This is a pure place of God. This is a temple. Every wish is fulfilled here," center spokesman Harjinder Sandhawalia said.
Everyone is welcome, Vice President Manmohan Dhillon said. The kitchen is open around-the-clock, he said.
"The food is always good, you know," he said.
Vaisakhi Day celebrates a message given to the Sikhs in 1699, temple president Jaswinder Singh said.
The message was to be compassionate above all, he said. The people were told that compassion leads to faith and courage.
"They can become one with God," he said. "That was a special message."
The Sikhs are a people of peace, Dhillon said. Men and women are equal.
Children are taught classes at the center in the native language, Punjabi.
Jasmine Banga, 15, of Bothell, came to Vaisakhi Day with her mother and sisters. She and her friend Simran Daind, 13, knew almost everyone there, they said.
"It's just really fun coming and spending time with friends and family," Banga said. "You get to listen to the prayers and everything. It's a big thing, and you get to be a part of it. It feels good to be part of a big family."
Each Sikh temple has its own way of celebrating Vaisakhi Day, Daind said. Each way is accepted.
Her friend nodded in agreement. "People should come and watch and see how everything's done," Banga said.
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; email@example.com.
Sikh Centre of Seattle in Bothell, 20412 Bothell-Everett Highway. 425-487-4878, www.sikhcentreofseattle.org/, firstname.lastname@example.org. Construction on a large-scale addition is almost complete.
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