One of the world’s largest Vaisakhi celebrations will be returning to Handsworth Park later today (April 25)
The celebrations, which mark the Sikh nation’s collective birthday, start at 10am as two huge processions set off from Gurdwaras (Sikh temples) in Hockley and Smethwick. Led by five Sikhs in traditional dress they will be followed by thousands of other Sikhs from local congregations and at the head of each procession will be the Holy Scriptures of Revelation – referred to as the living Guru Granth Sahib.
There will be a fantastic festive atmosphere at Handsworth Park from 11am, with live music, entertainment, Punjabi food and craft stalls. For the hungry, a delicious Langar – free vegetarian feast – will also be on offer.
As one of the largest outdoor Vaisakhi celebrations in the world, last year’s festival attracted over 80,000 people from the Midlands and beyond. The event marks the formation of the Sikh nation or Khalsa Panth in 1699. The five Sikhs leading each procession represent the original Panj Pyare (Beloved Ones) who were the first to join the Sikh order over 300 years ago.
Cllr Martin Mullaney, Cabinet Member for Leisure, Sport & Culture said: “Birmingham’s vibrant Vaisakhi festival shows how people come together in the city to celebrate their cultural identity. As part of a calendar of diverse community events it is a great example of why Birmingham has been shortlisted for UK City of Culture 2013.”
Ranjit Singh Dhanda, Chair of the Council of Sikh Gurdwaras said: “Vaisakhi is a very important event in the Sikh calendar. The Sikh community, Birmingham City Council and our sponsors have all given tremendous support for the celebrations in Handsworth Park. The event’s theme of ‘Proud to be Sikh, Proud to be British’ continues to celebrate the richness and diversity of Brummies, and we would like to welcome everyone, Sikh and non-Sikh, to join in and share the festivities.”
Russell Atkinson, Managing Director for Lebara Mobile UK, said: “As one of the most symbolic dates in the Sikh Calendar, we are extremely proud to be one of the main sponsors of the hugely popular Vaisakhi Birmingham. Lebara Mobile’s success is built on its commitment to provide services which bring our customers closer to their friends, family and community – being associated with such a celebratory event allows us to connect with the communities we serve. We wish all our Sikh customers a very special Vaisakhi and look forward to celebrating with them at Vaisakhi Birmingham.”
The event is alcohol free and no smoking, and visitors will not be allowed to bring dogs into the festival area. Roads around the park will be closed for the day and residents in the local area have been sent a letter advising of the details.
For more information call 0121 303 3008 or go to www.birmingham.gov.uk/vaisakhi.
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