Sikhs celebrate Vaisakhi
PUBLISHED: 16:42 16 April 2008 | UPDATED: 09:39 23 August 2010
THOUSANDS of Sikhs took to the streets at the weekend to celebrate the colourful and spectacular Vaisakhi festival. The parade in Gravesend is the second largest in the south east attracting people from north Kent and south east London. Held to celebrat
THOUSANDS of Sikhs took to the streets at the weekend to celebrate the colourful and spectacular Vaisakhi festival.
The parade in Gravesend is the second largest in the south east attracting people from north Kent and south east London.
Held to celebrate one of the most important dates in the Sikh calendar it represents the Sikh new year and 1699, the day Sikhism was officially born.
The celebrations, also attended by hundreds of Sikhs from Dartford, were vibrant, colourful and heaped with pride and tradition. It was echoed in similar festivities across the country.
Gurvinder Sandher, 34, assistant director of North West Kent Racial Equality Council said: "The Vaisakhi celebrations have evolved greatly over the years, so that it is a celebration not just for the Sikh community but a celebration of the excellent community relations that we enjoy here in Gravesham.
"I feel that much credit needs to be given to the Guru Nanak Darbar Management Committee and our partners Kent Police and Gravesham Borough Council for all their hard work and commitment in putting this fantastic event together."
He added: "Vaisakhi is always popular and once again it was great event at the weekend. I have lived in Gravesend for over 30 years and I am extremely proud of the community and you really can see that during events like this."
The Naggar Kirtan procession attracted not only members of the Sikh community but also those from other communities in the county.
Led by the Panj Piary, the five beloved, who were dressed in saffron coloured robes and turbans, the procession was followed by the Sikh's holy book the Guru Granth Sahib in a special model of the Golden Temple. It started at the Sikh Gurdwara in Clarence Place before going past the New Gurdwara site in Khalsa Avenue, where thousands of pounds were raised for the new Gurdwara from donations and special prayers were said. From there it stopped in Arthur Street at the Guru Ravi Dass Gurdwara the procession climaxed where it started back at Clarence Place.
In addition to the floats, community projects such as Lethal Soundz, Four by Four Bhangra Youth Club, Jugnu Bhangra Group and The Asian Welfare Society were represented.
Jaspal Singh Dhesi, president of Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara said: "A lot of hard work has gone into planning this event. I was very pleased with how it all went. Vaisakhi is an important religious festival for the Sikh community and it was pleasing to see how it was respected and enjoyed by all the members of the community in Gravesham both Sikh and non-Sikh. "This just underlines the positive community relations enjoyed in this borough."
Marni Dhinsa, from Four By Four Bhangra Youth Club, who took part in the Naggar Kirtan said: "I was especially impressed with the number of young people who played an active role on the floats and as volunteers on the day. We had over 70 of our youth club members taking part and they greatly enjoyed it and did not want the procession to end.